Cooking with K: Sweet Potato Gratin

We’ve been in a major rut with our meals in the Huang household.  It’s the same endless rotation of tacos, spaghetti, and chicken & rice every week.  We both work full time and by the time we pick K up from day care and rush home, we are looking for dinners that are quick and easy.  Unfortunately that doesn’t always equate to super healthy.

Food is emotional for me.  When I’m happy, sad, stressed, tired, or any other emotion, I tend to want to eat what I feel will compliment or remedy that feeling.  I often forget that food is fuel.  That every bite we put in our mouth has an effect.  Considering I often wonder if I’m on the fast track for Type 2 diabetes, it seems time to find ways to make healthier food taste good enough that I WANT to eat it.

My goals are to put higher quality meals on the table, spend time with my daughter, and expand my culinary horizons.   Luckily I have a kid who will try just about anything.  As long as it doesn’t have visible onions.  That’s a no go.  Everything else is fair game.  I can work with this.

I get few precious hours in the evening with K and I want to make the most of them.  She is a helper by nature and fascinated by the kitchen, so she has become my sous chef.  Yes, it takes some creativity to identify steps she can help with, but there is always something she can do.  Often, a lot of things she can do.  She stands on a chair pulled up to the counter and helps me measure, shred, arrange, season, whisk, and stir.  As I man the stovetop, I explain the steps to her and her abilities are gaining momentum.  At first I was nervous to let her crack an egg – who wants to clean up that mess?  But she is totally capable and cracks eggs like a pro now.  She takes pride in making meals and is excited to try what we make.  Involving K with meal prep means that I want to spend more time in the kitchen and am more willing to try meals that take a little more effort to produce. Cooking with K makes me unbelievably happy.

Finding new recipes is actually simple thanks to blogs like this one.  I scan through recipes that look or sound delicious. I especially enjoy reading how the food is described.  Phrases like, “small pools of olive oil” and “vanilla spiked yogurt” tend to suck me in.

This week we tried a new recipe: Chard, White Bean and Sweet Potato Gratin.  I came across this recipe on Sugar Loves Spices and the original recipe is linked below.  In addition to K being able to help me, this recipe met my goal of making each bite delicious and nutritious.  This was also a combination of flavors and textures I wouldn’t think to put together.  And guess what? It was AWESOME.  Even A who isn’t a huge fan of sweet potatoes went back for seconds.  It takes some time to bake, so this is not one for a weeknight.  This was my first time cooking with chard and it was a nice contrast to the sweet potatoes – an ingredient I happen to love.  Here’s what you need:

Chard, White Bean & Sweet Potato Gratin

  • 1/2 small onion, chopped
  • 1 bunch chard
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1 Tbsp flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and sliced
  • 1 cup white beans (I used canned cannellini beans.)
  • pinch of grated nutmeg (I omitted this ingredient.)
  • 1/2 cup Edam cheese (or Gruyère, Cheddar, or Gouda)  (I used Gruyère and it was delicious.)
  • olive oil

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and butter a small casserole dish.

Drizzle some olive oil in your pan over medium-high heat and cook the onion for a few minutes. Add the chard, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook until the chard wilts and there is no moisture left in the pan. This took about five minutes.  When done, move into a bowl so you can use the pan for the next step.

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Add the butter and flour to the pan and whisk together.  It’s important to cook for a little bit to get rid of the flour taste.  Whisk in the milk, then add the garlic and bring to a simmer. Boil for 2 minutes, whisking. Season with salt and pepper and remove from the heat.

Layer half the sweet potatoes on the bottom of your baking dish.  Then sprinkle half the beans.  If you are using nutmeg, you can add it now.  Then add half the chard/onion mixture, half the cheese and half the sauce.  Repeat with the remaining ingredients.

Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes.  Uncover and then bake another 15 minutes until it becomes golden brown.  It’s best to let it cool for 15 minutes before serving.

It’s incredibly filling and the original chef recommends it can also be served as a main dish.  I served this with pork, but I agree, it could easily be a main dish.

Here’s the original recipe:

http://www.sugarlovespices.com/chard-white-bean-sweet-potato-gratin/

This is a great dish for a rainy day.  Warm and satiating.  Happy cooking, friends!


 

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