As most of you already know, we were blasted with an arctic storm this week. Schools and businesses all over our area were closed and state emergencies were declared. As a result, I had a snow day on Wednesday, and while it was lovely to have a day off midweek, I paid a hefty price the day before….
I feel like I’m copping out here today. Just a little bit.
This recipe is so insanely easy…it almost doesn’t count as a recipe. Bake a potato, make a stuffing, and then place said stuffing into said baked potato. I’m definitely not going to win any awards for complexity here.
And that’s OK….because who needs more complexity in life today? We all have enough on our plates (figuratively speaking)…so what LITERALLY goes onto our plates should be simple. Especially during a busy work week like the ones I’ve been having since the new year began. I love meals like this because (A) they can be prepared completely ahead, (B) they are healthy, and most importantly, (C) they are easy!
I’ve been on a sweet potato kick recently. Can’t get enough of them. I might be kind of weird, though… you guys can clear this up for me. Is it strange that I prefer them WITHOUT brown sugar and cinnamon? I think they get a little TOO sweet that way. I like them a bit more savory. I can’t be the only one. Right?
Don’t get me wrong. I love a sweet potato casserole at Thanksgiving. Sweet potato muffins. Yes. Sweet potato pie. Sure. But give me a baked sweet potato and stuff it with something salty…that’s going to be the one I always choose. This “recipe” came about in the height of my sweet potato obsession. I wanted to make a few for weeknight dinners, but wasn’t sure how to jazz them up without making them overly caloric.
Then it occurred to me…stuff ‘em with beans. Good ol’ beans. Love ‘em. The bean salad is bright and flavorful, but its savory notes play perfectly off the sweetness of the tater.
Plus, look at that color! Gorgeous. Pretty food = yummy food. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!
4 medium sweet potatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 shallots, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 (15-oz) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed well
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
Salt and pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 425°F. Prick sweet potatoes with a fork in several places.
Drizzle the outside of the potatoes with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place the potatoes in a baking dish and bake until tender all the way to the center, about 1 hour (cooking time will depend on the size of your potatoes – check after 45 minutes).
Heat oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add shallots and garlic and cook for a couple minutes.
Add the bell pepper and cook for another 5 minutes or until tender.
Add the beans, tomatoes, and balsamic vinegar and cook for just a couple minutes or until everything is warmed through. Remove from heat and toss in the fresh basil.
When just cool enough to handle, cut each sweet potato lengthwise, press open to make a well in the center and spoon the bean mixture into the well. Serve warm.
When I went to buy the ingredients for this dish, I thought I grabbed a pork tenderloin off the shelf. That’s the cut of meat I always use with this marinade (as do my parents) and what I’ve used for this specific dish in the past.
It wasn’t until I got home that I realized that I had grabbed a pork LOIN instead. After a mini temper tantrum (witnessed only by my dogs), I decided to make the best of it. I proceeded with the marinade as usual but knew I had to adjust my cooking method. Usually, I just grill pork tenderloin after it has been marinating for a few hours. It always comes out perfectly moist and tender. Pork loin, however, is not something I have made very often, and I was a bit intimidated by it. I realize there is not a HUGE difference between the two, but I feared I would mishandle the new-to-me cut of pork and would end up with something dry and flavorless. I ended up roasting it instead (which was probably the best choice anyway given the abysmal weather conditions outside). The result was fantastic! I managed to get a crispy crust on the outside of the roast without losing the amazing Asian flavors of the marinade or sacrificing the juicy tenderness of the meat itself. Hooray!
The marinade is one of my mom’s recipes…with the slightest twist. The original does not call for Sriracha, but I love the stuff and wanted to see how it would work with an extra spicy “punch.” It worked, alright. Delicious, spicy, and nutty. Absolute perfection. The marinated pork tenderloin I grew up with was reserved for special occasions. Along with my mom’s killer marinade for flank steak, it was up there in the rotation of family favs. And with good reason. It’s a cinch to throw together (most of the ingredients are probably in your pantry), and it yields a super flavorful cut of meat.
I love stir-fried noodles of any kind, and my husband and I LOVE the flavor of wasabi (like, to the point where it feels like someone kicked you in the nose)…so the wasabi noodles kinda just came together in my head naturally. The cucumber is nice addition because it’s fresh and cooling – it plays off the other flavors perfectly. I toyed around with some Asian flavors and ingredients, and I found that the combo listed below is what worked best for our tastes. The best thing about dishes like this is that they are completely customizable. Don’t love wasabi? Use less of it. Not a huge fan of sesame oil? Omit it. Want different veggies in your stir fry? Sure, throw them in! Do what works for you. There’s no right or wrong involved here…
Except if you buy the wrong type of meat. Hah. But I’m proof that even THAT isn’t really a wrong! See? Totally customizable.
Warm Wasabi Noodles with Asian Marinated Pork Loin (makes 6 servings)
For the Pork:
1 (2-lb) pork loin
½ cup soy sauce
¼ cup canola oil
½ cup sugar
1 jigger vodka
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon Sriracha hot sauce
2 garlic cloves, pressed
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, finely chopped or grated
For the Noodles:
1 lb whole-wheat spaghetti or buckwheat noodles (soba)
1 tablespoon canola oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
¼ cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
3 tablespoons prepared wasabi paste
1 English cucumber, sliced
Toasted sesame seeds, for garnish
Chopped scallions, for garnish
For the Pork:
Combine the soy sauce, oil, sugar, vodka, sesame oil, hot sauce, scallions, garlic, and ginger in a large resealable bag. Add the pork, submerge in the marinade, and refrigerate for 6-8 hours.
Remove the pork from the fridge and allow it to sit at room temperature for at least 15 minutes. Meanwhile, pour the marinade into a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer, and allow to cook for 15-20 minutes. It should thicken and cook down slightly (this also makes it safe to use again).
Preheat the oven to 450°F. Pat the pork dry with paper towels and place on a roasting rack in a shallow baking dish. Drizzle the pork lightly with canola oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 15 minutes (this will help the outside get a golden brown crust), then brush liberally with the boiled marinade, and reduce the oven temperature to 300°F. Roast for another 30 minutes, brushing with the marinade a couple times, or until the internal temperature reaches 135°F. Remove from oven, tent with tin foil, and allow the roast to rest for 10-15 minutes before slicing. The internal temperature of the roast should go up to around 140-145°F during this time. Thinly slice and keep warm (tent with foil) until you are ready to serve.
For the Noodles:
While the pork is roasting/resting, cook the noodles until el dente in salted boiling water. Drain completely and set aside.
Once the pork is rested and sliced, heat the oil in a large skillet or wok and when hot, add the garlic. Cook for 30 seconds and then add the noodles, soy sauce, oyster sauce, and sugar. Stir-fry everything for 1 minute. Whisk the wasabi paste with a couple tablespoons of water in a small bowl. Remove the pan from the heat, add the wasabi mixture and a drizzle of sesame oil (add amounts that work for your taste – as I say above, we LOVE wasabi, so I really went for it). Add in the sliced cucumber and half of the scallions and sesame seeds. Toss the noodles to coat and taste for seasonings (adjust as needed).
To serve, put the warm noodles in serving bowls, top with the thinly sliced pork, and then garnish everything with the remaining scallions and toasted sesame seeds. Serve immediately while warm.
Are you guys sick of the brussels yet?
I’m not. Clearly. I know I JUST shared a roasted brussels recipe with you a couple days ago, but I haven’t gotten them out of my system yet…and I’m not sure I ever will or even want to. I THINK it’s safe to say that currently they are my favorite veggie on earth. My 10-year-old self would never believe it.
Despite my obsession, I had never tried a raw version of brussels. The idea kinda scared me because I had only ever had them roasted, sautéed, in a fluffy and cheesy quiche, or tossed with bacon. Which is a veggie cheat, really. After all, anything tastes good doused in butter, oil, or bacon grease! I had confidence, though, that the good ol’ b-sprout would not let me down.
In keeping with the lighter theme on here as of late, I decided to make a salad out of my raw b-sprouts and to throw in some kale. I’d seen variations of this salad all over Pinterest, and I’d heard people rave about it. So, I went for it…and I’m so glad I did. The flavors of this salad kinda remind me of a Caesar salad but with a much healthier spin. Not only is kale an obvious “duh-this-is-good-for-you” food, but the b-sprout is no slacker in the nutrition department! Just Google it. They are loaded with fiber, vitamins, antioxidants, and even protein! Definitely a good green veggie to keep in your rotation…especially if you can come up with fun new ways to eat them. They are a nice departure from broccoli and leafy greens.
The fun thing about this salad is that the veg retains its raw crunch. Sure, that may not be for everyone, but I loved it. The dressing is like a punch of lemon (which you know I love) and the sharpness of the parmesan cheese and butteriness of the pine nuts round everything out. Love it. Best part? It comes together in no time and counts (for me) as a totally acceptable weekday dinner.
Raw Brussels Sprout & Kale Salad with Lemon Dressing (makes 4 servings)
4 cups brussels sprouts
1 bunch kale, stemmed
½ cup toasted pine nuts
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
For the Dressing:
Juice and zest of 2 lemons
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, minced
1 shallot, minced
1 tablespoon honey
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
1. Using the shredding blade in a food processor, shred the brussels sprouts (or slice very thinly with a sharp knife). Roll the kale leaves up into bundles and thinly slice. Toss the two together in a large bowl.
2. Make the dressing in the food processor by blending all ingredients together and streaming in the olive oil last. I like mine pretty smooth, so I processed the heck out of it. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper.
3. Toss the brussels and kale well with the dressing and allow to sit for 15-20 minutes so that the dressing is somewhat absorbed and the vegetables have softened just slightly. Garnish the salad with the toasted pine nuts and grated cheese.
Note: I had extra dressing. It’s good on a lot of things!
Adapted from here.