Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Sweet Potato Casserole with Carmelized Onions and Cranberry Walnut Quinoa Salad

Boy, it's been so long since I posted! This is due to two big events happening at once...a wonderful visit from my dear friend Marenka and the IMac seizing up. Good thing I had Marenka to distract me from the loss of our 24" glowy friend!
After feeding M. her favorite meal upon her arrival Sunday (Thanksgiving turkey and my pared down version of trimmings), I put her to work the following 3 nights cooking us meals from the blog. Dishes we thought she'd be able to replicate easily at home with her newfound talents in the kitchen. :-) She made Curried Green Pea soup, Strawberry Crisp, Mediterranean Baked Tilapia, Tofu Chocolate Pudding and her second favorite next to Turkey Day dinner...Turkey Meatloaf.
This is all to say that the only new things I have to write about are the Sweet Potato Casserole and the Cranberry Walnut Quinoa Salad we had for our welcome to Texas Thanksgiving dinner for M. The casserole was just a spur of the moment dish. I'd made some roasted sweets the day before and mashed 'em with a little butter, salt and pepper. I'd also carmelized some onions the day before too, so added those to the mashed sweets. We'd bought some amazing brioche rolls from Central Market for our dinner and sure weren't going to eat 12 (so we thought!), so I grabbed a couple to buzz in the food processor. These were combined with some grated cave-aged Gruyere and a weenie bit of butter and used as a topping for the mashed sweets. Can I just say...SO GOOD! I'll be making these again soon. The quinoa dish was a stand-in for all of the following...cranberry sauce, green beans, and stuffing. It's one of our favorites that I know you'll love.

Cranberry Walnut Quinoa Salad: (adapted from Juan-Carlos Cruz recipe from foodtv)

1 cup quinoa
~3/4 cup dried cranberries
~3-4 cups cut green beans, boiled until crisp tender (the original recipe calls for 1 cup frozen, but I like a lot more green beans and don't care for the frozen ones)
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
1/4 cup green onions, sliced
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
~3 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Trim and cut your beans into ~2 inch pieces and boil until crisp tender, drain and place in a large bowl.

Add the cranberries, walnuts, and green onions to the beans.

Combine quinoa with 2 cups water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and continue cooking until all water is absorbed. Usually about 10-15 minutes. When water is absorbed, turn off the heat, fluff with a fork and recover the pot.

Heat olive oil in a small saute pan over medium heat. Add minced garlic and saute for 1-2 min. The original recipe calls for 4 cloves of minced raw garlic, but this is much friendlier. :-) When done, add balsamic, salt and pepper. This will be your dressing.

Add hot cooked quinoa to the cranberry, walnut, bean mixture. Toss with dressing until well mixed. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before serving. You can also make this the day before.

Sweet Potato Casserole with Carmelized Onions:

I'm not going to be able to give any firm amounts for the ingredients because I didn't type this up soon enough and I just made it up as I went along. Next time I make it, I'll be sure to take notes and amend this.

3 (or more) smallish roasted sweet potatoes, mashed (wrap each individually in foil and bake at 400 until soft (about an hour), peel and mash with a little butter, salt and pepper to taste)
~1/4-1/3? cup chopped carmelized onions (I used this method, only with sweet yellow onions, that were cut in half lengthwise, and then sliced horizontally into ~1/4" or less slices. Then you don't end up with skinny ends that tend to burn rather than carmelize)
2 brioche rolls or equivalent in a loaf form, buzzed briefly in a food processor
~1/4-1/3 cup grated aged Gruyere cheese
a pat of softened butter

Mix mashed sweets with onions then spread in a small (size will actually depend on how big a recipe you're making...my dish is a little over a quart).
Mix brioche crumbs with cheese and butter and spread over mashed sweets to cover.
This is the part I really don't remember...I think I baked it at 350 til warmed through. I can't remember if I covered it with foil for the better part of baking and then broiled uncovered for a minute or so...but, that sounds like a good idea. :-)


Mike said...

Welcome back to the web! Nice creativity on the potatoes - we'll have to try that some time! See you in about a week!!!!!!!!! (I haven't forgotten about the promised scones.)

James said...

New post! YAY!
I'm gonna keep pressing you on developing the stuffing "croutons" for the thx-gvn salad...
Or maybe I'll just do it me own self.