Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Online Cooking Club Week Three – Component Meals...

image via the NYT -- suffice to say, my end result looking nothing like this, no, it was kinda ugly, not strikingly beautiful as Bittman promises (proof below), but it was still incredibly yummy...for what it's worth!

When it comes to food, my girlies are purists.

One of my biggest challenges in getting them to try new things is their squeamishness at dishes containing multiple ingredients, which as you can imagine is a pretty major hurdle. They (like my husband, the apple didn’t fall far from the tree on this one) prefer their food one flavor at a time…they don't even like the different foods touching on their plates, which is pretty much, well…the total and complete opposite of me. (I once concocted a dish of Thanksgiving leftovers aptly named “Bowl of Thanks” that was sublime if I do say so myself. As you can imagine, Bryan did not agree.)

I’ve learned to deal with this challenge by falling back on (for the girlies, Bryan thankfully has *mostly* grown out of this unfortunate affliction) “component meals.” My typical system is to make something with multiple ingredients for me and bryan (like the pasta with asparagus, goat cheese and sausage) and then set aside the things the girls will eat and make a more palatable (read fewer ingredients) meal for the girlies…

What I decided to try for this week’s cooking club easily fell into this category. I made Mark Bittman’s Roasted Sweet Potato salad for the grown-ups and separated out some of the black beans and roasted sweet potatoes for the girlies.

The salad was a major win, and I think it could easily stand on its own, as it’s hearty and incredibly satisfying. We ended up serving it with some sliced grilled chicken, but the chicken felt like the side dish and the salad the star, it was so flavorful.

The only complaint is that it didn’t save well. I packaged some up for lunch the next day and it was average at best. I would highly recommend eating this right away, slightly warm. I also didn't add the red bell peppers, as we didn't have any on hand, so the consistency was very soft -- like a true potato salad. I think the crunch would have made it even better (and far prettier)...so I'd highly suggest following Bittman's recipe below.

Maybe your kiddos will be more into it than mine ;-)

Roasted Sweet Potato Salad with Black Beans and Chili Dressing – adapted from Mark Bittman
  • 4 medium sweet potatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds), peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1 large red onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 minced jalapeño
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 2 cups cooked black beans, drained (canned are fine)
  • 1 red or yellow bell pepper, seeded and finely diced
  • 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro.
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Put sweet potatoes and onions on a large baking sheet, drizzle with 2 tablespoons oil, toss to coat and spread out in a single layer. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast, turning occasionally, until potatoes begin to brown on corners and are just tender inside, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from oven; keep on pan until ready to mix with dressing.

Put chilies in a blender or mini food processor along with garlic, lime juice, remaining olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Process until blended.

Put warm vegetables in a large bowl with beans and bell pepper; toss with dressing and cilantro. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.

Serve warm or at room temperature.


  1. I wish there was a "component cooking".

  2. ...cookbook. [pressed Post too soon]

  3. Oh, I'm so glad you tried this. I have sweet potatoes a-plenty but I wasn't sure how it would work. Don't know why I hesitated, as the sweet potato burrito was my very favorite meal near my old job.
    My post is up: http://memegrl.blogspot.com/2009/10/raising-foodies-mitigated-success.html

  4. So glad I stumbled upon this post! I tore out the recipe in the paper and have been intrigued. Isn't funny how different the real thing looks from the photographed thing?

  5. This looks so good! I love sweet potatoes! I think we've got some similarly picky eaters at our house (preferring their flavors separated). That can be a hard thing to work with, but I like your "component meals" approach.

  6. Mine is posted at http://countessofnc.blogspot.com/2009/10/eat-this-moroccan-chicken.html

    please add me to the list.

  7. i finally got one posted!