Sweet Potatoes with Collards and Aduki Beans

If I had to pick one dish that I’ve cooked so far this year that I like best it would be this one.  Slightly bitter collards contrasted by chunks of soft, slightly caramelized sweet potato.  Add the crunchy texture and nutty flavor of toasted sunflower seeds, and the sweet and tangy pop! of freshly squeezed lime and my mouth simply does cartwheels.  I honestly wished, after eating this for dinner, that I had doubled the recipe and had left-overs for the days following.

This dish is packed with so many good-for-you ingredients that it’s almost over the top.  The collard greens help to lower your cholesterol.  The sweet potatoes are loaded with beta-carotene.  The red bell peppers are rich in vitamins C and A.  And the aduki beans lend fiber, protein and iron.  This could certainly be eaten as a meat-free entree or as a side.  I opted to serve it as a side to lentil loaf and, boy, did it ever steal the show!

Ingredients:

2 medium sweet potatoes, cut into 1-inch chunks

1 cup chicken or vegetable broth, divided

4 scallions, sliced

1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped

1 bunch collard greens, sliced to 1 inch wide

1 (15 oz.) can aduki beans, drained and rinsed

4 teaspoons toasted sunflower seeds

1 lime, cut into 4 wedges

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 400°F
  • Spritz sweet potatoes with olive oil and roast on a baking sheet until tender , 25 minutes or so

roasted sweet potatoes

  • Meanwhile, in a large skillet, bring 1/2 cup broth to a simmer over medium high heat. Add white and light green parts of green onions and red bell pepper and cook about 5 minutes or until onions are translucent

chopped collards, red bell pepper, and scallions

  • Reduce heat to medium and add remaining 1/2 cup broth, collards and beans. Cover and cook 10 to 12 minutes or until collards are wilted and tender, stirring occasionally

rinsed & drained aduki beans

  • Plate the greens. Top with potatoes, sliced scallion, sunflower seeds and lime wedges

sweet potatoes with collards and aduki beans

J

Recipe adapted from this post on Whole Foods Market’s site.

Sweet Potato & Kidney Bean Chili

This chili is a thing of beauty.  By beauty I mean that the flavor of the green bell pepper transforms from an underripe, sharp, crisp bite to something soft and sweet.  The ancho chili & crushed red pepper are balanced by the sweet potato and carrots.  The mushrooms provide a welcome texture contrast.  There is nothing boring about this dish.  Served with bread and, yes, a little butter (as there is almost zero fat in the entire pot) it is wonderful.  The bread is almost necessary to sop up the nice broth left in the bottom of the bowl.  You just can’t leave it there to be washed down the drain….

sweet potato & kidney bean chili

Ingredients:

1 medium onion, chopped

4 medium cloves garlic, chopped

1 TBS fresh ginger, chopped

1 medium carrot, sliced

1 medium green pepper, cut in 1-inch squares

2 cups sweet potatoes, cut in 1-inch cubes

2 cups portobello mushrooms, quartered

½ teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon ancho chili powder

1 teaspoon paprika

½ teaspoon crushed red pepper

1 TBS tomato paste

1 TBS + 2 cups chicken (or vegetable) broth

1 15 oz can kidney beans, drained

salt & black pepper to taste

Directions:

  • Chop the garlic and onions and let them sit for about  5 minutes while you chop all of the other veggies

chopped onion, garlic, sweet potato, green bell pepper and carrot

quartered portobello mushrooms

  • Heat 1 TBS of broth in a soup pot. Sauté the onion in broth over medium heat for 4-5 minutes, stirring frequently, until translucent
  • Add garlic, ginger, carrot, pepper, sweet potatoes, and mushrooms. Continue to sauté for another 5 minutes, stirring frequently

veggies sauteeing in a soup pot

  • Add spices and mix thoroughly
  • Mix tomato paste and broth together, then pour over spiced vegetables. Cover and simmer on low for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally
  • Add beans, salt, pepper, and continue to cook for another 5 minutes on medium heat uncovered

cholesterol-lowering, fiber-packed kidney beans

J

Recipe adapted from a post on the world’s healthiest foods

Honey-Soy-Glazed Root Vegetables

If you’ve never eaten a cooked radish then you’re missing out.  If you’ve only ever had them raw and disliked radishes and written them off, again, you’re missing out.  When a peppery & crunchy radish is cooked its flavor and texture transform into something wonderful.  Something buttery.  Something smooth.  Something yummy.  Radishes are roastable, steamable, fryable, but I would start here where they’re incorporated with other flavors so that if, for some reason, you don’t care for them- you still have other tasty vegetables to eat.

Ingredients

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 pound medium turnips, cut into 3/4-inch wedges

1 pound medium radishes, quartered

½ medium sweet potato, quartered & sliced

1 large carrot, sliced

1/4 cup honey

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1/2 pound Swiss chard, bottoms of stems discarded and leaves chopped

2 tablespoons molasses

2 tablespoons water

Salt

6 large shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and caps quartered

1/2 pound rice crackers, pulverized

Pulverizing rice crackers. Need I say more?

Directions

  • In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of oil. Add the turnips and radishes, sweet potatoes and carrots and cook over medium-high heat, stirring, until lightly browned and crisp-tender, 10 minutes
  • Add the honey and cook over medium heat, stirring, until the vegetables are glazed.
  • Add the soy sauce and cook until syrupy
  • Add the lemon juice and the Swiss chard; cook until the chard is wilted. Raise the heat to high and cook until all of the liquid has evaporated; keep warm.

Chopped Swiss chard & quartered shitake

  • In a medium bowl, whisk the molasses with the water and season with salt. Add the shiitake and toss to coat.
  • Drain the mushrooms, squeezing out most of the excess liquid.
  • In a separate bowl, toss the mushrooms with the rice cracker crumbs to create a crunchy coating

Shitake coated in rice crackers

  • In a large skillet, heat the remaining oil. Add the mushrooms and cook over a high heat, until golden and crisp

Crisping the shitake

  • Transfer to paper towels to blot off oil. Top the vegetables with the mushrooms and serve

We had our glazed root vegetables with some Asian pork tenderloin.  They would side well to almost any meat though, or could be eaten alone or over rice as a vegetarian dish.

Glazed root vegetables with pork tenderloin

J

Recipe adapted from an article in Food & Wine, recipe by David Chang

Creamy Sesame Greens

I am frequently surprised by the fact that I’m not yet sick of eating hearty winter greens.  It’s true, I’m not, although I make no promises that I won’t be in another few weeks when I begin to pine for the fresh pole beans and beets and spinach of spring which I will have to continue to wait for.  Then I’ll move on to wanting fresh, juicy summer tomatoes and squashes, basil and dill.  Until then, I’ll keep on trying new recipes for my winter veggies, and working on the layout of my garden for the spring.  I’m thinking that raised boxes may be in order this year, if I can just get my act together and build them.

While looking through some recipes on Whole Foods’ website I came across this one and thought that it would make for a great side to some simple white fish.  Then I did my usual and got carried away trying to pair flavors & themes in foods and ended up marinating  the simple piece of haddock in a store-bought ginger-garlic-soy sauce before baking it.  And I kept going from there….

Ingredients

2 tablespoons chicken or vegetable broth

2 tablespoons water

6 cups chopped kale, chard and/or collard greens

2 tablespoons tahini

2 tablespoons orange juice

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

Directions

  • Heat the broth in a large skillet over medium heat. Add greens and cook, tossing occasionally, until wilted, about 5 minutes.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together tahini, orange juice, water and garlic. Add hot greens, toss to combine and serve.

On this particular evening I also steamed up some fingerling potatoes and sliced sweet potato.  I took the steamed starches and tossed them in non-fat sour cream which had been mixed with Chinese 5-spice .   This made for an interesting flavor combination (as Chinese 5-spice includes cinnamon, fennel, licorice root, white pepper, etc.)

What I would not suggest is the pairing of all three of these (marinated fish, dressed greens, and spiced creamy potatoes) together.  It was a little busy on the palette.

J

Slow simmer beef stew

Who ever said that beef stew needs to be made the same way every time?  I’m a big fan of finding a recipe that I love and adding to it, changing it up a little, playing with it- if you will.  So when it came time to throw some beef, potatoes and carrots into the crock pot yesterday I also decided to add: onion, garlic, green beans, peas, sweet potato, rutabaga, and butternut squash.  What a tasty and well-rounded stew that was!  A wee bit of tomato paste and some dried herbs and it was complete.  Of course, I had also run into Bakery Normand in Northampton to grab a peasant loaf of whole wheat bread to go with.  Damned if that wasn’t the best thing to scoop up gravy with.

J