Vegetarian Family Dinner Time
As an almost (but not quite) vegetarian (I just love bacon too much), I am always on the look out for recipes that are quick, easy, meatless, and that my family will eat (without faces or grumbles). When I make dinner, it is usually (but not always) meatless (I do love Jamie Oliver’s Roasted Chicken). This is not the case when my husband makes dinner. Last fall, I was gone 3 nights a week and dinner fell mainly to him; this means more meat on the menu for the kids. When my break started, I resumed many of the dinner duties. After about 4 weeks, we were having pasta (meatless), and my son says, “But where’s the meat?”. It took him a while, but I guess he finally noticed the change in head chef.
Well, I didn’t rush to add in meat for him, but I did happen to find a meatless recipe he enjoyed in The Bon Appetit Cookboook. This large, orange, door stopper of a cookbook, was actually on its way out of my house when I found this recipe by chance. I’d had this cookbook for a year or two and hadn’t cracked it open more than once or twice. In my kitchen, this is not a good sign. I think it suffered from having too many recipes and not enough pictures. Every-time I opened it, I just saw recipe after recipe, nothing ever catching my eye enough to take it off the page and onto our table. So, it was headed for another kitchen, where it could be loved more, when I happen to flip it open to see if it had a chili recipe. I found one under a section called “Meatless Main Dishes”, but it was a little unique in that it serves the chili over sweet potatoes (of which I had about 6 languishing in my kitchen).
This recipe was great because it uses canned beans. I know, I’m lazy. I grew up with a father who always made his beans from dried beans, but honestly, I usually just can’t plan that far ahead. It also was quick and easy to prepare (as long as you remember to get your sweet pototoes in the oven an hour before dinner time). Best of all my children ate it up.
To make it more palatable to them, I omitted the jalepeno, as my children can’t handle any spice (who am I kidding, I can’t either). We ate it two nights in a row. No complaining. No wondering where the meat was.
I should note that this recipe hasn’t saved the cookbook from my giveaway pile. There is just too much in there. I think it will find a happier home in a kitchen with less cookbook competition. There is lots of good stuff in there, but I need pictures!
Chili Topped Sweet Potatoes
adapted from The Bon Appetit Cookbook (pg. 258)
4-6 large sweet potatoes or garnet yams (I used yams the 1st night, sweet potatoes the next–both worked well)
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 cups diced bell pepper (red, green, or yellow– I used about 1 cup red/1 cup green)
1 medium or large onion, chopped
3 garlic cloved, minced
1 scant Tbsp chili powder
2 tsps ground cumin
1 15 oz can diced tomatoes in juice
2 15 oz cans black beans, rinsed thoroughly, drained
1 medium zucchini, diced
1 small can V-8 or other tomato juice/sauce or broth as needed
4 lime wedges
Plain nonfat yogurt
chopped fresh cilantro
Preheat oven to 400. Place seet potatoes on a baking tray . Pierce with a fork and bake until tender (40 minutes to 1 + hours depending on size).
While the potatoes are cooking, heat the oil in a large skillet (I used a 12 inch cast iron) over medium low heat. Saute bellpepper and onion until golden (about 10 min). Add garlic and stir for 2 minutes. Stir in chilipowder and cumin, then tomatoes with juice and beans; bring mixture to simmer. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook 10 minutes (because I upped the beans in this recipe to stretch it for leftovers, I had to add the additional tomato juice liquid during this simmering period). Add squash and cook for about 10-15 minutes longer.
On each plate squash a sweet potato/yam. For the kids I served them 1/2 a yam each. Cover with chili. Squeeze a bit of lime juice over each, and then drizzle some plain yogurt on top. Garnish with a bit of chopped cilantro. I served this with a winter greens salad (water cress, arugula, etc with a light vinaigrette) that complemented it well.