Our corner of the world becomes pretty bleak at this time of year with bare trees, plowed under gardens and occasional winter storms that blow through.
Ever on the lookout for new recipes, this one for sweet potato, roasted chickpeas and creamy hummus sauce caught our eye: tasty, colorful and with flavors that evoke a warmer time and place, this proved to be a great way to beat the winter blues! We’ve adapted it to our tastes and feel free to do the same. Filling–and meatless–this recipe will most likely find its way back on the table right into spring.
Baked Sweet Potato with Roasted Chickpeas and Creamy Hummus Sauce
- Preheat oven to 400. Line 2 metal cookie sheets with baking paper.
- Place the sweet potato halves on one cookie sheet and set aside.
- Place 1 cup of chickpeas in a bowl and lightly drizzle with olive oil. Dust with salt and pepper and gently toss until lightly coated. Pour in a single layer on the second cookie sheet.
- Put the potatoes and the chickpeas in the oven for roasting. Roast the chickpeas until they become a medium shade of brown, about 15 minutes. The sweet potatoes should be cooked until they are fork tender, about 45 minutes.
- While the potatoes and chickpeas are roasting, prepare the hummus sauce.
- Place remaining 2 cups of chickpeas in a food processor.
- Place remaining 2 cups of chickpeas in a food processor and begin to process while pouring in a thin stream of olive oil. Once the chickpeas begin to become a paste, add milk, lemon juice, zest, garlic, salt and pepper. The consistency should be thin enough to drizzle on the potatoes, but still be visible (not watery).
- Once the potatoes and chickpeas have finished in the oven, top the potatoes with the roasted chickpeas and drizzle them generously with the hummus sauce. For added color, garnish with fresh parsley or feta cheese and serve warm or room temperature.
We are so fortunate to have a good friend and neighbor who grows vegetables for a nearby upscale restaurant. Whenever he has a surplus of a particular vegetable, we’re the happy benefactors. Yesterday morning, I cheered when walking into the Convent kitchen. I found three large flats of fresh, happy looking Baby Bok Choy on the counter. In no time at all, it was in and out of the sink and into the skillet for our noon meal. What a blessing!
Simple (and delicious!) Bok Choy
Great anytime in the week, this easy recipe will turn a side dish into the star of the show on any table!
- Heat broth, butter, and garlic in a deep skillet, cast iron is preferred.
- Arrange the bok choy evenly in the skillet and simmer until tender--about 5 minutes.
- Remove the bok choy onto a serving dish and cover to keep warm.
- Return to the skillet and reduce the broth by half. Add sesame oil, salt, and pepper.
- Pour the broth reduction over the bok choy and enjoy!
“Spring is on the way!” the kitchen sister sings. Outside the convent door the crocuses agree and now tonight’s evening meal reflects the happy thought by bringing a touch of Spring to the dinner table. During this Lenten season we have been serving lighter meals which have included a wide variety of new soups — mostly vegetable-based and surprisingly successful and satisfying. Our brand new fresh green pea soup is making its debut tonight and we shall see how it tastes.
Today in the bush outside my window I saw a baby robin and now there’s not a doubt that Spring is on its way!
- Sautee onion, celery and garlic in a large pot.
- Dissolve the vegetable stock in the water and add to pot with onion, celery and garlic.
- Add the peas and stir occasionally, bringing everything to a boil.
- Cover and reduce the heat. Simmer for about 10 minutes.
- When peas are tender, remove from heat and let cool.
- Add mint leaves to the soup and blend with either an immersion blender, or in batches in a counter-top blender.
- Serve either warm or cold and garnish with fresh mint leaves if desired.
I have been exploring “superfoods” for a while now, wanting to incorporate some healthier eating habits into our Convent diet. We live a very active life-style within our Benedictine motto: Ora et Labora (Pray and Work). My task is to make sure we are all eating well and taking care of our bodies (since we are called to be temples of the Holy Spirit).
In my research, I learned about the wonderful nutty grain-like seed quinoa. Quinoa is native to Bolivia and a relative of swiss chard, spinach and beets. We usually think of quinoa as a grain, but it is actually the seed of a plant. It’s also a complete protein, which means it provides all nine essential amino acids necessary for good health, hence the name “essential.” Your body can’t produce these nutrients itself, so you have to get them frequently through food. Quinoa’s slow-releasing carbohydrates help to maintain blood sugar levels. It can be eaten on its own as a side dish, with a bit of butter or oil, salt and pepper, or other seasonings. Quinoa also makes a great breakfast dish mixed with dried fruit, cinnamon, milk, and maple syrup or honey. A healthy substitute for rice, it also makes a tasty pilaf.
I found and adapted this flavorful and surprising salad side dish recipe for the Sisters and everyone loved it. Last weekend we served it to our Oblates who were here on retreat, and promised that we’d share it with all of you. Enjoy!
Quinoa Salad with Pears, Bacon and Baby Spinach
- Prepare the quinoa according to the package directions. 1 cup dry quinoa should yield over 4 cups of cooked quinoa. Cool quinoa.
- In a large bowl add the cooled quinoa, diced pears, green onions, spinach and bell pepper. Reserve the crumbled bacon and toasted almonds for later.
- For the dressing: Combine all of the dressing ingredients in a small bowl and pour over quinoa mixture. Toss gently. You might not want to use all of the dressing depending on how wet you want your salad so add a little at a time. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour before serving so that the flavors can meld.
- Mix the crumbled bacon and toasted almonds into the salad just before serving, reserving a bit to garnish the top as well.
Note: To toast almonds, brown them for a couple of minutes in a skillet over medium high heat. To roast them, bake them in the oven for 8-10 minutes at 350 degrees. When you smell them, they are done!