Lentil & Sweet Potato Chili
Part one of a three-part series on flexible weeknight dinners - a spicy lentil chili you'll be able to use in all kinds of meals!
This is a recipe I used for our Thanksgiving dinner, but I think it would be great for any meal (and it would reheat beautifully for part of a work lunch). But that’s not even the best thing about it.
Besides salt, oil and pepper, there are two whole ingredients. Sweet potatoes/yams and Greek yogurt.
There has been so much debate online lately, in the New York Times, on prominent bloggers’ sites and on Twitter, about whether or not you *have* to cook, and whether it’s an unfair burden on women, etc.
I personally think that issue is way too nuanced for Twitter, but something that I think is one of the most important lessons from the debate is that cooking does not have to be crazy.
It’s still cooking – which is so much better than picking up a hamburger – even if you’re making a grilled cheese. It does not have to be a pot roast every night. It doesn’t have to include crazy ingredients or be a piece of meat and two sides. The very simplest recipes are still recipes, and people should give themselves credit for that. On days when we fire up the rice cooker and pile a bowl full of sautéed whatever-was-in-the-fridge, that still counts and cooking, and it’s just as good for us as making coq au vin. If you’re beating yourself up about not “cooking” enough, keep that in mind. Your intent matters, and you benefit for making food at home no matter how simple it is.
I am sure the debate will go on, but here’s my two cents: cooking should be fun. There are days when it’s not, and that is OK. And that’s when you make something super simple. Like these!
Note: in order to achieve a nice, full sweet potato half, we’ll use more filling than was originally in the potato. That means two of the potatoes are for filling only and the peels will be discarded.
5 medium sweet potatoes, scrubbed clean
3/4 cup Greek yogurt
more kosher salt
For the tops:
freshly ground black pepper
Finishing salt (recommended: Jacobsen Pinot Noir Flake Salt)
sprigs of thyme
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Placing a little bit of oil in your palm, rub the potatoes with oil all over and sprinkle liberally with salt. Wrap individually in foil and place on a baking sheet. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until fork tender. If they aren’t tender yet (the time may vary depending on your size of potato), try giving them another 10 minutes. If they still aren’t ready, test every 5 minutes after that. When they are done, remove them from the oven and allow to cool until they can be handled safely – for at least 15-20 minutes.
When cooled, slice the potatoes in half (the long way) and use a spoon to scrape out most of the insides, leaving a thin layer of potato on the peel for structural integrity. I recommend moving the skins back on to a clean baking sheet at this time, so you don’t have to move them after filling them.
Collect the insides in a glass bowl. Season with salt and add the Greek yogurt, then use a stick blender or a fork to mash to a consistently-textured pulp. Spoon the filling back into the potato skins, making sure to fill them generously.
Sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper, salt and thyme sprigs. At this point, the potatoes can be covered in foil and refrigerated to be baked later, or reheated immediately. Either way I recommend 20 minutes at 400 degrees to reheat, but check on them at 15 just to be safe.