Weekly Winner:  An Odd (but tasty) Autumnal Salad

Things have been crazy around here with travel and work so not a lot of cooking “just for us” has happened.  However one of the highlights of my solo meals was this salad.  I’ve had the recipe from Cooking Light for quite a while and have pulled it out several times to make, but just never got around to it.  Until a few weeks ago.  Finally, it was time to try Sweet Potato Medallions with Almond Sauce and Chickpea Salad.

There really is nothing to this salad — it has very few ingredients. Most of them are in the tasty nut butter-based dressing (they call for almond butter but I had cashew butter on hand). But the few parts come together for a wonderful, season-appropriate lunch salad.  I like that the sweet potatoes are served warm which makes it perfect for a cool day and helps to wilt the arugula a bit as well.

Sweet Potato Medallions with Almond Sauce and Chickpea Salad

Ingredients:

4 small (4-oz.) sweet potatoes

1/4 cup creamy natural almond butter

3 1/2 tablespoons warm water

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, divided

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 (15-oz.) can unsalted chickpeas, rinsed and drained

5 ounces baby arugula

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

Procedure:

1.  Prick potatoes all over with a fork; place on a microwave-safe plate, and microwave at HIGH just until tender, about 5 minutes. Cut into 1/2-inch-thick rounds.

2.  Whisk together almond butter, water, and 1 tablespoon lemon juice in a bowl. Set aside.

3.  Brush potato slices on 1 side with 1 tablespoon oil. Heat a large skillet over medium-high. Working in batches, cook potato slices, oil side down, until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes.

4.  Combine chickpeas, arugula, salt, pepper, remaining 2 tablespoons juice, and 1 tablespoon oil in a large bowl. Divide chickpea mixture among 4 plates; top with sweet potato slices. Drizzle with almond butter sauce.

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Weekly Winner: A Bowl of Smoky Sunshine

Sweet Potato Soup Yes, I realize I have been shamefully absent lately.  It’s that time of year, you know.  Running around like crazy, traveling, making holiday plans.  Holiday plans??  How can it possibly be December?  I honestly don’t even remember October and I thought November had barely gotten started.  Oh well.  Tis the season for comfort and joy and all that stuff.  Which is exactly what this soup is … a bowl of comfort and joy….. and bacon!

There is not a potato or potato product that I don’t like.  And when you top it with cheese and bacon, really it can only get better.  Did I mention the bacon?  Anyway, the recipe is dead-simple which I think we can all use right around now and it is warm, creamy, healthy and amazingly low-calorie — all of which is definitely a good thing about now as well.  Oh yeah … and it has bacon.  Sorry.  I digress.

The recipe comes from Cooking Light Magazine.  Whip yourself up a bowl and ponder where in the world the time goes.

Creamy Sweet Potato Soup

Serves 6

Ingredients:

2 pounds sweet potatoes, halved lengthwise (about two large)

¼ cup water

2 tsp olive oil

1 cup chopped onion

½ tsp ground cumin

¼ tsp crushed red pepper

4 cups chicken stock

¼ tsp salt

6 bacon slices, cooked and crumbled

1 ounce fresh Parmesan cheese, shaved

2 Tbsp flat-leaf parsley, chopped

Preparation

Place potatoes, cut sides down, in an 11×7 inch microwave-safe baking dish.  Add ¼ cup water; cover with plastic wrap.  Microwave on HIGH 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender.  Cool slightly; discard potato skins.

Heat a saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add oil; swirl to coat.  Add onion; sauté 1 minute or until translucent.  Stir in cumin and red pepper.  Add stock to pan; bring to a boil.  Place half of sweet potato and half of stock mixture in a blender.  Remove center piece of blender lid; secure blender lid on blender.  Place a clean towel over opening in blender lid (to avoid splatters); blend until smooth.  Pour pureed soup into a large bowl.  Repeat procedure with remaining sweet potato and stock mixture.  Stir in salt.  Divide soup evenly among 6 bowls; sprinkle cooked bacon and parmesan over top.  Garnish with parsley.