We recently attended a birthday celebration where the party fare included, among other things, tater tots with ketchup. Ah, sweet nostalgia! It had been years since I'd eaten tater tots and they were so tasty. My husband in particular was excited to be reminded of those bites of fried potato goodness and said "You should make these!"
So, I added tater tots to my list. (Yes, there is an actual list.) Between that time and now, though, the shape the tots would take (figuratively) changed a lot. I swapped out the potatoes for sweet potatoes and decided I'd bake rather than fry them. Happily, though, the end result was as crispy and satisfying as its inspiration.
I made a couple versions - one polenta-crusted and the other coated in sprouted quinoa. For the latter, I first sprouted the quinoa then dried it out in an oven at 170 degrees F for an hour. Both variations were delightfully crunchy and just salty enough to contrast perfectly with the sweet potato.
For the sweet potato itself, I wanted the interior to be soft but with a little structure and substance, so I shredded it using the medium holes on my box grater. The grated sweet potato is mixed with just enough egg and flour to hold it together before being shaped into tots. These come together quickly except that I did find shaping the sweet tater tots to be a bit tedious. This could be a good opportunity to enlist the help of older children; otherwise, if you're not invested in the "tot" shape and want to speed up the process, feel free to make balls or patties instead.
One thing I kept the same? The ketchup. Mmm...ketchup.
Crispy Baked Sweet Tater Tots
2-3 medium sweet potatoes (about 1 1/2 lbs)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 c flour
1/2 c medium grind cornmeal (polenta) or quinoa, rinsed and dried or sprouted, dried quinoa
1 tsp salt
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Peel the sweet potatoes and shred them using a grater with medium or small holes. Placed the shredded sweet potato in a kitchen towel, twist to close, and squeeze out excess liquid. Set aside this sweet potato juice for a separate use.*
2. Place the shredded, strained sweet potato in a large bowl, add the egg and flour, and stir to evenly coat the sweet potato. In a small bowl, stir together the polenta or quinoa with the salt. Form small pieces of the sweet potato mixture into "tots" (or whatever shape you'd like) and roll each, one at a time, in the quinoa/polenta to coat. Place the tots in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet.
3. Bake until the sweet potato mixture is cooked through and the coating is crispy and just turning golden, about 30 minutes for the polenta and 20 minutes for the quinoa. My oven cooks unevenly so I also rotated the pan halfway through baking. Allow to cool before serving plain or with ketchup.
*I love the sweet potato juice on its own, but you can also search the internet for juice combinations including sweet potato. There are some particularly yummy-sounding ones that include ginger. I think it would also be great stirred into oatmeal.