16 January, 2012

sweet potatoes and greens

It's been a while. Okay, so it hasn't been that long, but it feels like a very, very long time. It can all be blamed on this. But that's over now. It was a huge success and incredibly rewarding to see all that planning pay off. It's been quite the distraction from life - please, don't even ask me how my studies are coming along. Somehow I did manage to find a bit of a routine that involved waking up before the sun, doing yoga, and having an hour of sanity all to myself.

I also managed to maintain a reasonable diet, thanks to Ian. He keeps things simple: spinach salads, scrambled eggs, hummus veggie wraps, leftovers. That's about it, but it certainly does the trick. I, on the other hand, crave creative meals and time spent in the kitchen. In the last 2 weeks this only happened once, but it was a good one, and I'm glad I get to share it with you now. The meal was somewhat inspired by this recipe. Plus the fact that I didn't want to deal with any grains, had two sweet potatoes that needed to be eaten, and really wanted to use my new mandolin. (Thanks, Aunt Vera!)

Part of what makes this so tasty is the oil-cured olives. Have you tried those before? If not, you should add them to your grocery list. Or maybe even take an extra trip to the store. Most grocers carry them in the deli section where you can scoop out your own olives and pay by weight. They are a beautiful addition to just about any dish I have tried them with, or on a cheese plate, of course. They have a strong, earthy flavor and saltiness that is a bit much when eaten plain, but oh so complimentary to other sweet and savory foods. Like sweet potatoes, or a mellow, creamy cheese. I love them on a salad of mixed greens, feta cheese, and sunflower seeds. So, even if you don't want to go for the whole recipe, at least give the olives a try. I'm pretty sure you will love them.

Sweet Potatoes & Greens Recipe:

2 sweet potatoes
zest of 1 lemon
1 handful of walnuts
1 bunch kale, or other leafy greens
2 cloves garlic
olive oil
red pepper flakes
salt & pepper
oil cured olives, pits removed & quarter

Preheat oven to 350

For the sweet potatoes:
Wash and peel. Thinly and evenly slice. (You can use a mandolin if you have one.)
Coat a casserole dish with a bit of olive oil.
Layer the potatoes in a casserole dish, sprinkling each layer with a bit of lemon zest, salt, and pepper. Sprinkle walnuts on top. Cook, covered for about 45 minutes.

In the meantime, prepare the greens:
Wash, remove thick stems, and coarsely chop.
Heat olive oil on med-low heat. Mince or press the garlic and add to the warm oil.
When that becomes fragrant add the greens. You may have to do this a bit at a time, allowing them to cook down a bit before you can fit them all into your pan.
Stir occasionally. Add in salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste.
Add the lid so that they will steam and cook for about 5 minutes longer.

When both are ready, assemble on your plate with potatoes on bottom, greens on top, and garnish with the olives.

[optional: feta cheese or a dash of lemon juice can also be good additions]

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