My quest for healthy recipes continue. I want to enjoy food that doesn’t sacrifice flavor in the name of “eating better”. I don’t know what it is, but so often healthy eating is synonymous with flavorless, insipid food. I want delicious food darn it, and I want that food to also do my body good.
This weekend I finally had some time to spend in the kitchen and try out some new ideas. Honestly, some were just huge flops. Total flounders… like right-into-the-garbage fails. Some, however, were real winners, including the Spaghetti Squash with Roasted Broccoli and Parmesan I just posted and a couple other real doozies that I’m excited to share with you throughout the next week.
Enter sweet potatoes. They are ridiculously good and can be prepared a multitude of different ways, all with amazing results. Baked, mashed, roasted, grilled, as french fries, in casseroles, au gratin, with brown sugar, pecans… I feel like Bubba from Forrest Gump. Sweet Potatoes are basically vegetable candy. And a huge side benefit: they are full of Vitamins B6, C, and D, as well as iron, magnesium, potassium, and beta carotene. Basically, it helps keep bad stuff out and good stuff in.
My new favorite way to prepare sweet potatoes? Roasting them. It’s crazy easy to roast vegetables, and it makes them taste like 10 times better. That’s not a proven scientific fact, but it should be. The roasting process draws out moisture from the vegetable, intensifying its flavor, while at the same time transforming its natural sugars into caramelized goodness.
Peel one large sweet potato and then give it a rough chop, doing your best to make them all around the same size (that way they all finish cooking at the same time). You want approximately 1″ cubes.
Drizzle the chopped sweet potatoes with about 1 tablespoon of olive oil and give it a generous sprinkling of Kosher salt and a dash of freshly ground black pepper. Use your hands to rub the oil, salt, and pepper all over the potatoes and arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet.
Roast the potatoes in a pre-heated 375°F oven for about 35 minutes (more or less depending upon the size of your chopped sweet potatoes), until they are tender and easily pierced through with a knife. I also like to open up the oven once or twice during the roasting process to give the baking sheet a little shake. Not sure if that’s necessary, but it sure is fun.
Let the sweet potatoes cool. In your food processor, combine the sweet potatoes with one 15.5 ounce can of garbanzo beans (chickpeas), 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, 3 tablespoons tahini, the juice from 1/2 lemon, 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, and season with Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Feel free to add in a pinch of cayenne pepper for a little kick if that’s how you roll.
Pulse in the food processor until smooth. Give the hummus a quick taste, and season with additional salt and pepper as needed, and if you want it to have a brighter taste (a bigger flavor pop), add in the juice from the other half of lemon.
Top with a little fresh parsley and serve with assorted vegetables, pita chips, crackers… anything really. If you plan on refrigerating it and serving it at a later time, just make sure you pull it out of the fridge a little before serving to let it soften up a bit and give it a quick stir.
My personal favorite way to enjoy this hummus is on a cracker (crostini would be great as well) topped with slices of Honeycrisp apples and finely sliced shallots.
If you don’t have honeycrisp apples, fuji or pink lady would work great as well. And here’s a great tip I learned when serving raw shallots or onions: let the slices of shallot/onion either soak in ice water for at least 10 minutes or put the slices a colander and run hot water over them for about a minute. This will take the strong bite out of them, giving them a more pleasant, mellow taste.