The other night, after dinner and while Randy and I were watching TV, a fast food ad came on. Suddenly my husband’s eyes were glued to a hamburger. This was not just a hamburger, it was one that had several patties, bacon – you know, meat. And my husband, his belly full of plant-based goodness said, “Oh my god, that looks so good!” Which gave me pause. I mean, I know he eats meat, that he likes meat and I’m totally fine with that. But if that triple stacked burger looked good to him, how would, say, a sweet potato tian look?
As it turns out, really good. Randy loved this meal and so did I. In fact, because it makes a generous portion, he has eaten it three times – willingly! – in the past two days. And I think I finally got beyond Randy’s sweet potato prejudice. You know, that “sweet potato = mushy dish with marshmallows on top” thing. I use sweet potatoes often in my cooking and he always likes them but I do notice that his eyes glaze over a bit when I mention them. Not anymore. He declared this a “once a week” meal which is just about the highest praise I can expect from him. He suggested that I tell you all that this dish is “addictive”. Wow. But it is pretty darn good.
You may look at the ingredients and think – really? But the magic of the vegetable combination, the heat of the oven, and a fresh breadcrumb topping can do wonders. I added to the recipe by using some herbs and some Parmesan in the bread crumbs and I think those are necessary additions. I always have some kind of bread in my freezer and this time I was surprised to find my only option was one with kalamata olives. I thought it would make strange breadcrumbs but truthfully, I think it added to the overall goodness. And a hint of purple color.
Sweet Potatoes Previously on Dana Treat: Spicy Sweet Potatoes with Lime, Southwestern Sweet Potato Gratin
One Year Ago: Brownie Chunk Cookies and Honey Nut Squares
Two Years Ago: Smoky Cashews and Pappa al Pomodoro
Sweet Potato, White Bean, and Pepper Tian
Adapted from Vegetarian Classics
I’m not a huge green pepper fan, but it is very mellow after baking. Substitute with another red or a yellow one if you prefer. I tend to shy away from large amounts of garlic, but the heat is great here. I filed this under quick and easy. It does spend a fair amount of time in the oven but it is so quick to put together, I think it is a good weeknight meal. You could certainly make it ahead of time and just serve it room temperature.
3 medium-large sweet potatoes, peeled, quartered lengthwise, and sliced ¼-inch thick
1 15-ounce can white beans, rinsed and drained
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 green bell pepper, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 medium red onion, cut into 2-inch chunks and sections separated
6 ounces cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. dried sage
3 tbsp. olive oil
3 slices country bread
1 tbsp. olive oil
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat the oven to 375ºF.
Combine all the vegetables along with the garlic, beans, herbs, a large pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper in a large bowl. Drizzle with the 3 tablespoons of olive oil and toss well. (The vegetables can be prepared to this point up to 4 hours in advance.) Pack the mixture into a 2½ or 3 quart shallow baking dish and flatten the top surface. Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes. Uncover, give everything a good stir and bake for another 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the fresh breadcrumbs. Place the bread in a food processor and pulse until you have crumbs. Turn them out into a bowl and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Stir to coat the bread with the oil and then add the cheese. Combine well.
Remove the tian from the oven. Spread the crumbs all over the top. Return the tian to the oven and bake 15 minutes more, or until the topping is a rich golden color. Let sit 10 minutes before serving.