Thursday, October 30

Baked Sweet Potatoes with Molasses-Chile Butter

Hot baked sweet potatoes topped with a sweet and spicy compound butter

Baked Sweet Potatoes with Molasses Chile Butter

Baked potatoes are an easy and tasty side dish for any meal, but during the fall and winter I love swapping regular russets and yukon golds with sweet potatoes or yams. Sweet potatoes have a lot more flavor than regular potatoes and are also more nutritious (make sure to eat the skin, too, which contains a lot of fiber). I play up the sweetness by making a molasses-chile butter that melts into the hot potato and adds richness and contrast. Don't skip a sprinkle of finishing salt, which adds a light crunch and enhances all the inherent flavors of the potato. This recipe is a great side dish to any protein and would be a nice alternative to the traditional candied yams on a Thanksgiving table. Or stuff the potatoes with roasted veggies or beans and enjoy a filling vegetarian meal.

Related Recipes:
- Baked Sweet Potato Fries
- Sweet Potato Cakes with Creamy Herb Dip
- Baked Potato Bites

Baked Sweet Potatoes with Molasses-Chile Butter:
  • Preheat the oven to 425F.
  • Wash and dry 4 sweet potatoes and place in the hot oven.
  • Bake the potatoes for 35-45 minutes, or until tender.
  • In a small bowl, mix together 3-4 tbsp. room temperature butter, 2 tsp. molasses, and 1 tsp. chile powder.
  • When the potatoes are ready, slice a slit down the center of each potato and add in a spoonful of the molasses-chile butter. Sprinkle with coarse sea salt.

Serves four-eight (side dish)

Wednesday, October 29

Broccoli, Lemon, & Parmesan Soup

A healthy five-ingredient soup for the cold months ahead

Broccoli, Lemon, and Parmesan Soup

I used to make a lot of soup when I was working at my previous job because the leftovers made a great lunch the next day. Now that I get free meals at work (combined with the never-ending heat wave we've had since May), I've been missing the big batches of soup I used to cook nearly every week. I went on a bit of a cooking bender over the weekend and threw together a batch of this broccoli, lemon, and parmesan soup from Food52 in anticipation of a meatless Monday dinner. Unlike most soup recipes, the vegetables don't simmer in the broth for long at all. Instead, the broccoli is blanched and then very slowly cooked in garlic and olive oil until super soft before a quick simmer in chicken broth and a pulse in the food processor. I love the freshness that the lemon adds to the dish and suggest finishing each bowl with a fresh sprinkle of lemon zest to enhance the smell and flavor of the lemon in the dish. Serve this with some homemade croutons or a chunk of crusty bread and a salad for a filling and healthy meal.

Related Recipes:
- Cheddar Cauliflower Soup
- Chicken & Broccoli Stuffed Potatoes
- Asparagus Soup with Greek Yogurt

Broccoli, Lemon, & Parmesan Soup:
  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
  • Meanwhile, cut 2 lb. broccoli into florets and chop the stems into thin spears.
  • Cook the broccoli in boiling water for 5 minutes, then drain well.
  • In another large pot, heat 2 tbsp. olive oil and smash and peel 2-3 large garlic cloves.
  • Add the garlic to the hot oil and cook for a few minutes, until fragrant and lightly golden.
  • Add in the broccoli and a big pinch of salt and pepper, reduce the heat to lower, and cover the pot with a lid.
  • Cook the broccoli, stirring occasionally, for about 45 minutes, or until very tender.
  • Add in 4 c. low-sodium chicken broth, bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer and cook for another 10 minutes.
  • Stir in 2 tbsp. lemon juice and another pinch of salt and pepper.
  • Transfer soup to a food processor and pulse until smooth with some small chunks.
  • Add the soup back to the pot and stir in 1/2 c. grated parmesan cheese.
  • Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary.
  • To serve, ladle into bowls and top with a pinch of grated lemon zest and more grated parmesan.

Serves four-six

Tuesday, October 28

Pumpkin & Pancetta Baked Pasta

A creamy, cheesy baked pasta with roasted pumpkin and crispy pancetta

Pasta Al Forno with Pumpkin and Pancetta

I've had this baked pasta on my saved recipes list at Food52 for years and finally made it for our friends' Halloween party last weekend. It's everything that a baked pasta should be: rich and cheesy with crunchy brown bits at the top and lots of flavor surprises running through each bite. Pumpkin (or butternut squash) gets used twice in the pasta: blended with cream and cheese for the incredible pumpkin cream sauce and diced into chunks for bites of sweet roasted pieces mixed in with the noodles. Pumpkin is inherently sweet, but the mix of salty cheeses and crispy porky pancetta lardons keep the dish feeling savory. It's a great main course for a fall or winter night and travels well for a potluck. I imagine that it would be easy to reheat in the oven if you have leftovers, too.

Related Recipes:
- Baked Mac and Cheese
- Pasta Shells with Corn, Bacon, & Chard
- Baked Penne with Sausage & Broccoli Rabe

Baked Pasta with Pumpkin & Pancetta:
- 1 3-4 lb. cheese pumpkin or butternut squash
- 1 lb. pasta shells
- 1/2 lb. diced pancetta
- 2 c. heavy cream
- 1/2 c. grated mozzarella cheese
- 1/2 c. grated fontina cheese
- 1/2 c. grated parmesan cheese
- 1/4 c. crumbled gorgonzola cheese
- 2 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
- olive oil
- salt
- pepper

  • Preheat the oven to 400F.
  • Cut the pumpkin or butternut squash into quarters and drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper.
  • Roast the pumpkin for an hour, or until tender and caramelized in some places.
  • While the pumpkin is roasting, cook the pancetta in a skillet until crisp.
  • Scoop out 2 c. of cooked pumpkin and add to a food processor, then roughly chop another 1 1/2 c. of pumpkin. 
  • Add the heavy cream to the pumpkin in the food processor and blend to just combine.*
  • Increase the oven temperature to 500F.
  • Mix the pumpkin cream with the chopped pumpkin, crispy pancetta, mozzarella, fontina, parmesan, gorgonzola, thyme, and a big pinch of salt and pepper.
  • Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta for 8 minutes.
  • Drain the pasta, then mix with the other ingredients. Pour the pasta into a large baking dish.
  • Bake the pasta for another 10 minutes, or until bubbling and brown in some places.
  • Let cool slightly before serving.

Serves eight-ten
*Do not over-blend or the cream will whip.