I love it when a meal isn’t terribly complex to put together, but when you eat it, the flavor combination is just heaven. That was tonight’s dinner.
I started with Alanna’s sweet potato salad, which would let me use local sweet potatoes and local lettuce. You know how it seems like salad should be a summer dish? Not in the South. It’s most successfully grown here in the winter and early spring. And it’s heavenly–it’s really very little like the week-or-two-old, prewashed salad greens you buy at the grocery store. Butter lettuce is the favorite for both me and my husband. He was singing an ode to butter lettuce as he washed it to add it to our mixed greens tonight.
Anyway, I started with Alanna’s salad recipe, which is a simple, vegan celebration of Southwestern or Mexican flavors. Then I took it a little further.
I followed Alanna’s steps, except that I cut my sweet potatoes into 1″ pieces . . . and unlike Alanna, I had no trouble finding dried guajillo peppers (got ‘em at Whole Foods). They smelled and tasted sweet and rich–I prefer sweet and rich to hot! I put a plastic bag between me and the pepper while I cut it; I’ve been burned before (literally) by putting my fingers in my eyes after cutting dried or spicy peppers. But if you’re a spice wimp like I am (I don’t go much past poblano), please don’t let the guajillo peppers scare you off. I was surprised how mild yet full of flavor they were.
With this recipe, you definitely do want to let your sweet potatoes cook until they’re a bit caramelized on the outside with dressing mixed in, by the way. Taste after 10 minutes, then 15 minutes, etc., if you aren’t sure when they’re done; they should be a lot firmer than baked sweet potato filling but not hard to bite into.
My additions: I sliced raw corn off of the cob (also local!) and rinsed a can of black beans ( . . . not local). I tossed those into my sweet potatoes to let them cook, covered, for 2-3 minutes. Then I tossed in a bit more dressing and salt, and I served the veggie mix over salad greens.
It was so simple and so tasty. It wasn’t low in calories (see Alanna’s counts to get an idea), but for a whole meal, it was reasonable calorically speaking, and it was full of healthy, enriching foods.
One note: Unfortunately, mixing the salad dressing in my (admittedly crappy) blender left a pile of pepper/garlic mixture in the bottom. I might use the food processor to make the dressing next time, or at least transfer the dressing to a glass jar with a lid to shake it up manually before using.
One more note: Have you ever noticed that homemade dressings really elevate simple foods? I love this dressing, so I’m happy to have a small jar of it left over. I think my husband and I are going to try tossing the leftover dressing with buckwheat or rice noodles; the tangy, garlicky, sweet taste of the dressing reminds me a bit of the table-side P.F. Chang’s sauce.
(By the way, I’m at 37,600 words now on the book. 2/3 of the way towards winning NaNoWriMo!)