I've been getting asked a lot recently how I come up with new recipes and where I get ideas from. Well, first things first, I think about food. A lot. Constantly. Probably more than the average person (but probably not much more than you, if you're taking the time to read this blog about food). Constantly thinking about food is a necessary starting point, but there are many outside influences, some obvious and others not so much.
I eat out a decent amount. It's hard not to living in NYC. I love to eat out just as much as I love to cook. It might be my biggest source of inspiration, and it's nice to have someone else do the cooking (and the dishes). Every new restaurant experience from the most casual to the most fancy has a way of getting the ideas flowing.
Even just wandering around the streets, walking by a restaurant and checking out their menu in the window will get me inspired. This city loves food, and sure does it well. I'm constantly being bombarded with awesome ideas.
It also helps that most of the people I know love food and love to talk about food, and if they have a good idea or a recipe or a restaurant to try they are always willing and excited to share it with me. These conversations are my favorite sources of inspiration.
Last week we had dinner with friends at the Fat Raddish in the lower east side (yum). I got a lot of inspiration that night, not only from the food from that restaurant but also from our friends. They're very into food, Andy is by far the most talented home cook I know, but they work late hours so home cooked meals on the week nights usually consist of something that can easily be throw together. Julie told me that she made stuffed baked sweet potatoes the other night, and it sounded so awesome ... I warned her I might be stealing her idea.
I couldn't stop thinking about baked potatoes. I love how easy it is to just throw one in the oven, but also how you can load it with all sort of healthy and delicious toppings. It quickly becomes an easy, tasty, complete meal.
I'm sure you've heard the expression "eat the rainbow", and that's easy to do when you're starting with a bright orange potato. Greens were of course my next color of choice to add. You can use any green you like, but I really like the taste of mustard greens. They're hearty and have a bit of an edge to them. White beans round out the protein and add another element of color. Lastly, I wanted an awesome sauce to finish this off, and cilantro has a way of balancing everything out.
I'll be making this many of the nights that I am not eating out. Thanks for the inspiration Julie.
baked sweet potato with mustard greens, leeks, white beans + a cilantro tahini
3 medium sweet potatoes
a drizzle of olive oil
5-6 mustard green leaves
1 small leek, diced
2 cloves of garlic, diced
I cup of cannellini beans (canned or cooked, drained)
for the cilantro tahini:
1 cup of loosly packed cilantro
2 tablespoons of tahini
1 clove of garlic
1/4 teaspoon of salt
pepper + a pinch of red pepper flakes
about 1/4 cup of water
Start by roasting the potatoes
- Pre-heat the oven to 400º.
- Using a fork, poke a bunch of holes in the skin of the potatoes. Then, drizzle lightly with olive oil. Place the potatoes on a parchment lined baking sheet, and bake for about 45 minutes (until they are cooked through).
While the potatoes are baking, make the tahini + sautée the greens
- To make the cilantro tahini, place all of the ingredients (besides the water) in a food processor and pulse until everything is combined. Then, while the food processor is running, add in the water slowly and continuously until you have your desired consistency. I like it to be a little runny so that it drizzles nicely over the potatoes. Set aside until you're ready to serve.
- Then, sautée the greens. Place a couple of tablespoons of high-heat oil in a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add in the garlic and the leeks and sautée for about a few minutes (until everything is soft but not browning). Then, add the mustard greens. Toss to coat with the leeks and garlic and cook for about 2-3 minutes. I like the greens to have wilted slightly but not completely so they still have a slight crunch to them. Remove from the the heat, add the beans and toss to combine everything.
Assemble the potatoes
- Using a small paring knife, make a slit across the top of the potato and open it up. Season lightly with salt and pepper and drizzle with some olive oil. Then spoon in the mustard green + bean mixture. I like to over-stuff them so the greens are scattered all overn the plate. Then drizzle the cilantro tahini over the top. These are best served immediately, and warm.