I’ve always disliked how, once the holidays are over, it feels like a bit of a letdown - like there’s such a long stretch of winter ahead without the distractions of holiday foods and gift-giving and seasonal traditions. This year, my resolution is to enjoy the shorter days, take things a bit slower, and to enjoy all of the awesome, warming winter foods that this season has to offer.
It’s at this time of year that we can really get creative with spices, sauces, and new and interesting flavors. We can make the most of those pantry and freezer staples, and fully embrace the comfort of a stew bubbling away on the stovetop, or a cozy casserole baking in the oven. We can’t rely on the simplicity of a freshly sliced heirloom tomato or a juicy berry to bring flavor to our meals like we do in the summer months, and I think that’s perfectly okay. Instead, we must get a little creative with staples like canned beans, jarred roasted red peppers, and storage vegetables like butternut squash and potatoes.
I also love the chance to get creative with lightening up some classic winter dishes. Perhaps, a lasagna bursting with vegetables and prepared with a low-calorie almond milk Bechamel. Or, maybe a beef chili lightened up and packed full of nutrients with the addition of pureed pumpkin. How about a baked sweet potato, topped with flavorful rice and chickpeas, topped with a lemon tahini sauce? I love the possibilities! (Scroll down for the sweet potato recipe.)
Join me in getting revved up about all this season has to offer: We’ll be posting warming and healthy recipes right here on this blog all season long. For those who want to dig a little deeper and make a promise to themselves to cook more at home and try new foods this winter, we’re offering our Seasonal Meal Planning Program. In this program, you will receive 10 new recipes each week from The Wildflower Chef kitchen, easy-to-follow grocery lists, plus a one-on-one consultation with me, Chef Emily. If you join us, you can expect to try things like Spiced Red Lentil, Tomato, and Kale Soup, Butternut Squash and Sausage Lasagna, and Baked Salmon with Pecan Crunch Coating. We’ll also share healthful and easy breakfast and lunch recipes such as Almond Flour Pancakes, Chia Pudding, and a Tzatziki Hummus Platter.
We’re offering this Seasonal Meal Planning Program, valued at $60, for just $30 through January 5th. Grab your spot now and don’t miss out!
Baked Sweet Potato with Herbed Chickpeas and Lemon Tahini Drizzle
For the Baked Sweet Potatoes:
Preheat oven to 400°F.
With a fork, pierce the skin of 4 sweet potatoes, 5-6 times.
Place on baking sheet lined with foil. Bake until tender, 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Herbed Rice and Chickpeas:
1 cup rice (any type will work)
2 cups homemade or low-sodium chicken broth
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
Olive oil, to taste
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Freshly chopped parsley
Freshly chopped chives
Combine rice, broth, and garlic in a medium sauce pot over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover, and cook until tender. (20-40 minutes depending on the type of rice.) Fluff rice with a fork, then stir in the chickpeas, a good drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper to taste, chopped parsley, and some chopped chives. Play with the seasoning until it tastes just right to you.
For the Lemon Tahini Drizzle:
1/2 cup sesame tahini
3 large cloves garlic
4 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
3-5 tablespoons water
Salt, to taste
Place the tahini, garlic, lemon juice, and 3 tablespoons water into the bowl of a food processor. Blend well, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed and adding enough additional water to create a sauce with a smooth, pourable consistency. Season to taste with salt.
Split baked potato in half and top with a generous scoop of the herbed rice. Finish it all off with a nice drizzle of lemon tahini sauce. Enjoy!