Crop Chef: Climb Out of your Roast-and-Serve Rut

Sweet Potatoes

Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes need to cure in hot, humid weather to develop sugars after they are harvested.

Photo by: Debbie Wolfe

Debbie Wolfe

We didn’t want to have to tell you this, but your fall vegetables are totally talking behind your back. Yes, even the sweet potatoes. They’re saying you did exciting and inventive things with all the summer vegetables you brought in from the backyard, but you’re giving them the short shrift.

Shhhh…don’t try to deny it. There’s nothing to be ashamed of—everyone falls into a fall vegetable roast-and-serve rut. And when we do, we use these recipes to climb out and show that squash what we’re made of.

Moroccan Sweet Potatoes

Could there be a cuter, more Thanksgiving-esque restaurant name than Claire’s Corner Copia? We think not. This vegetarian spot in New Haven, Connecticut is run by chef and registered nurse Claire Criscuolo, who knows how to make dishes good and good for you. Here’s her spiced-up spin on roasted sweet potatoes, which are loaded with beta-carotine and fiber:

  • 6 medium sweet potatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 3 medium carrots, cut on the diagonal into ½ inch slices
  • 1 large yellow onion, slice into ¼-inch rings
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup golden raisins
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • 1/3 cup water
  • One 16-ounce can chickpeas
  • ¼ cup chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, combine the sweet potatoes, carrots, onion, olive oil, cinnamon, brown sugar, vanilla extract and raisins. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper; toss well. Pour the water into a rectangular glass baking dish, turn the potato mixture into the dish, cover tightly with foil and bake for 1 hour.  Remove the foil and stir in the chickpeas and walnuts. Continue cooking, uncovered, for 10 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.

Kale, Avocado, Grapefruit, Almond and Quinoa Salad

What can you do with kale that you haven’t done 1,000 times before? Stop hiding it in soups and let its leafy light shine in this salad, created by John Brand, executive chef at Ostra restaurant at the Mokara Hotel & Spa in San Antonio, Texas.

  • 6 ounces young kale greens, washed and hand torn
  • 1 whole avocado
  • 1 ruby red grapefruit, peeled and segmented, save the core of the grapefruit
  • 2 ounces red quinoa, cooked
  • 1 ounce shaved almonds
  • Salt and pepper

Place washed greens in bowl, peel avocado and place in bowl, squeeze grapefruit core over greens and season with salt and pepper. With clean hands, work the ingredients together.  The combination of avocado and fresh grapefruit juice becomes your oil-free vinaigrette. When thoroughly mixed, add the quinoa, almonds and segments. Adjust seasoning if necessary. Can be made two hours ahead of time.

Balsamic Roasted Beets with Goat Cheese and Thyme

In their natural state, beets aren’t the sexiest root vegetables around. But when chef Chris Hill of the recipe-filled website Bachelor Kitchen adds a little balsamic vinegar and a solid smattering of goat cheese, they become a lot more attractive.

  • 1 bundle of beets, 5-6
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, picked from stems
  • ½ cup goat cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Snip ends off of beets—where the stem meets the body of beet—and discard the ends. Peel the skin and slice into ¼-inch discs. Reserve beet skin for chips. Toss beets in bowl with thyme, salt and pepper, olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil and lay flat and even on sheet pan. Roast in a preheated, 400-degree oven for 30-40 minutes until tender. Sprinkle with goat cheese and serve immediately.

If you reserved the beet skins, shallow fry them for 3-4 minutes, allowing them to crisp. Garnish your dish with them, providing a crispy finish to each bite.

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