It’s been sort of a whirlwind… Barack Obama
On Fridays I work from home doing paperwork, phone calls and the myriad of the other things that didn’t get done during the week. It’s usually a pretty relaxed day and often it includes a long run in the woods or an hour of ice hockey with the Mother Puckers. I look forward to a quiet Friday as a much-needed time to rejuvenate, catch my breath and clear my desk.
Last Friday, however, was not one of those chill days. Oh no. It was back-to-back meetings followed by two school performances—one of which required a pot-luck dish that I had no time to plan and less time to prepare…
What could have been a recipe for disaster wound up becoming a new favorite dish that I have decided to call: Sweet Barackoli-Obeana…a nutritional stimulus package.
Elegant and simple, yet packed with nutrition in the form of roasted sweet potatoes and steamed broccoli topped with white beans sautéed in olive oil and garlic.
I love it because it fits all of my criteria: it is colorful and delicious, it is really, really easy to make, it is seasonal, and it is inexpensive. Even better: it is nutritionally complete as a vegetarian dish yet with the addition of some grilled sausages, supersizes into a hearty winter meal to satisfy a family with perpetually hungry growing boys.
The foundation of the meal is roasted sweet potatoes. These guys have been shown to have significant antioxidant effects, and are a good source of vitamins C and B6 manganese, copper and dietary fiber. Contrary to the name, sweet potatoes actually stabilize blood sugar levels and improve insulin response. They come in many sizes shapes and colors and vary in flavor and texture… the darker the variety, the higher the concentration of carotenes.
Broccoli happens to be one of the most nutrient-dense foods going. It’s got tons of vitamin C, as well as K, A, B6, E, folic acid, phosphorus, potassium and magnesium. Broccoli also contains anti-cancer compounds that are specifically linked to the prevention of breast cancer.
Add to that the fiber in the beans, and the incredible benefits of olive oil and garlic (simply too numerous to list) and you’ve got just about everything one could ask for in a meal.
Here’s what to do:
Grab a few organic sweet potatoes, scrub and cut into bite-sized chunks. Toss with olive oil, sea salt and some chopped rosemary or thyme. Bake on a cookie sheet in a 400 degree oven until tender; about 35 minutes. Be sure not to crowd the potatoes on the baking sheet… if you are making a big batch, it’s worth it to use two pans so that the bottoms of the potatoes caramelize for added sweetness and depth of flavor.
Next, peel and chop several cloves of garlic and sauté in a small skillet with olive oil, a few chopped herbs such as fresh thyme or rosemary, and a shake of red pepper flakes. When the garlic is sizzling but not brown, add about a cup of cooked beans (I used one can of cannellini beans—a white Italian kidney bean—but any bean would do just fine) and heat through. Just before removing from the heat, stir in a splash of soy sauce or tamari.
While this is going on, cut your washed, organic broccoli into florets and slice the stems (peel the outer layer of the stems to make them more tender). Steam for about 3-5 minutes until bright green.
To assemble: lay the roasted sweet potatoes on a large platter, arrange the steamed broccoli and top with the garlic/bean sauté. Voila!
If you are going for the gusto, consider a combination of chicken sausages grilled and sliced on the diagonal. Our co-op carries a wide variety of amazing sausages; we chose three varieties for this meal: spinach/fontina cheese, sweet Italian, and white wine/parsley.