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Friday, September 10, 2010

Balsamic Roasted Sweet Potatoes + A Chopped Salad w/ Roasted Beets

Randy has been working late a lot, so dinner around here has been a major afterthought. Think: cold cereal, Taco Time drive-thru, yogurts, and pb&j.....I should still be making good meals for the girls (well, one is nursing, but....well, you get the idea) and I, but I haven't. Tonight, Randy, had to pull another late one so I decided that I would make a real dinner (finally) and we would pack it up, take it to his work and eat it all together! When I told Randy that we were going to come up and bring dinner he got so excited....made me wish I would have done this sooner, like four days ago sooner....I'm a slow learner...

It turned out to be a lovely little meal. I came up with the Balsamic Roasted Sweet Potatoes after seeing a lot of fun recipes floating around the web using a variety of vegetables, glazing them with balsamic and oil and then roasting them. I can't wait to try other vegetable varieties in the future!

Here is the breakdown:

Side note: Roast the sweet potatoes and beets at the same time if you like on separate racks in the oven. Scroll down to see preparation of beets on Step 1.

Recipe for Balsamic Roasted Sweet Potatoes (will feed four):
3 sweet potatoes (gosh, you could use yams even!)
1 large yellow onion
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, minced (strip the leaves off the stems and mince leaves)
2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, minced (strip the needles off the stems and mince needles)
2 cloves garlic, minced
Kosher salt and pepper to taste.

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, pour in your 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar. Slowly whisk in extra virgin olive oil. Add thyme, rosemary and garlic. Whisk to combine. Set aside. Peel onion and cut into 1 inch size pieces. Take all the onion pieces and add them to the balsamic mixture. Mix around until all pieces are thoroughly coated. Using a slotted spoon, scoop the onion pieces out of the mixture and place them on a rimmed baking sheet (jelly roll pan). Don't discard the balsamic mixture- you will need it to coat the sweet potatoes. Peel sweet potatoes and cut into 1-2 inch pieces. Try and keep pieces uniform for even cooking. Add sweet potato pieces to the balsamic mixture. Mix around to thoroughly coat each piece. Using a slotted spoon, scoop all sweet potato pieces onto the rimmed baking sheet. Use the slotted spoon to incorporate the onion and sweet potatoes together and to evenly spread them across the surface of the rimmed baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper. Start with a tablespoon of both. You can always add more after roasting. Bake at 375 degrees for 35-40 minutes. Stir the onions and sweet potatoes a couple times during roasting. This helps brown them up evenly. When sweet potatoes are brown on the edges and fork tender, the mixture is done. Remove and season with salt and pepper to your liking. Serve and enjoy!

Recipe for Chopped Salad w/ Roasted Beets (will feed 4-6):
4 smallish-medium beets (any variety)
8 slices bacon
9 oz leafy lettuce such as baby arugula or spring greens
1 large granny smith apple, peeled and diced
Heaping 1/2 cup toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped
4 oz container crumbled gorgonzola cheese

Dressing: Newman's Own Balsamic Vinaigrette or you could use the Light version which is good as well.

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Wearing an apron to protect your clothes from the beet juices, wash and scrub beets thoroughly. When finished, trim the top (the long leafy parts) off all the way down to the actual beet. Now trim the squiggly little root off the bottom. Now you are ready to wrap them in foil for roasting. Wrap them like you would a potato for baking. Just before wrapping with beet and foil are in your hand sprinkle a little kosher salt over the beet with your free hand. When all beets are wrapped with foil place them on a rimmed baking sheet to contain beet juices that will surely leak. I also like to wrap the baking sheet with foil so I have one less thing to wash in the end. Place the baking sheet with beets in your pre-heated 375 degree oven and roast for 35 minutes or until tender. Remove from oven and set aside, allowing them to cool.

The little white bits are kosher salt.

2. In a large skillet, cook bacon over medium to low heat. When done, let bacon slices strain on paper towels.

3. If you were able to buy walnuts that were already toasted, GREAT! If not, here is what you'll need to do: In a small skillet, pour in your heaping 1/2 cup of coarsely chopped walnuts. Turn the heat on to medium. With a spoon or using some wrist coordination, keep the nuts constantly moving so they don't burn. You will smell a toasting smell though, which is what you want. The nuts should be done in a matter of minutes. Remove nuts from skillet and allow to cool on a plate.

4. Take your lettuce and pour it into a large serving bowl.

5. Take your diced apple and pour it over the top of your leafy lettuce.

6. Take cooled bacon slices and chop into large pieces on a cutting board. Add chopped bacon to the lettuce and apple.

7. Take cooled walnuts and add them as well.

8. Add your whole container of gorgonzola cheese.

9. The beets should be cool enough to handle now. Unwrap the beets on a cutting board and discard the foil. Slice beets into wedges (you'll be serving these on the side of the already dressed and tossed salad). Again, be careful as the beet juices are highly pigmented and could potentially stain clothing, etc.

10. You are now ready to toss and dress the salad. I tossed this particular salad with Newman's Own Balsamic Vinaigrette (you can find it on the dressing aisle). It's REALLY delicious and convenient. It also comes in a Light version, which I tried on a caprese salad my good friend, Kelli, made and it was really good as well. Toss the salad with just enough dressing to moisten. Plate and serve the chopped salad immediately with 4-5 beet wedges rested on top or to the side.

I love eating action shots.

Don't forget to enter the GIVEAWAY (click link or scroll down to find it) if you haven't already! Kara and I have loved reading through all your guys are the bees knees.

images by Briana
salad recipe inspired by one found in House Beautiful mag


(V.Kerr) School Time Adventures said...

Oh my heaven! I am really glad I am now your follower...this sounds so good! Plus I have fall because it's when I get excited to cook.

Kar said...

Your first pic reminds me of a pic you would see in Real Simple. Great photography Beez!!!!

Haley and Lance (but probably just Haley) said...

Surprising Dad at work with a gourmet meal? I would say you're the bees knees Bri. Randy is a lucky dude. P.S. Where have sweet potatoes been all my life? They're so good and there are so many ways to make them, but before a couple of years ago they just weren't on my radar.