That’s all I have to say about this last month of summer. A good month for certain, but even more certainly, a fast one.
With just one (single!) day left of summer and one day till autumn, I have two words to say right now — s w e e t p o t a t o.
I don’t know about you, but it feels like I woke up one morning, and poof, out of thin, (brisk, leaves-falling-through-it) air, autumn suddenly appeared. Sundress weather turned to sweater weather practically overnight, and sundown hours setup fort before I even had time to tell them I’d prefer they wait a bit longer.
That is life. You turn into this thing called an “adult” — generally the same meaning, but just a shorter form of the word adolescent — and life begins to blur.
Summer, don’t leave me. Please.
On the bright side, fall brings with it an array of awesome qualities outside of just the dreaded onset of winter. Fall foliage, apple picking, apple pie, apple oatmeal, apple everything.
Like Bubba on shrimp, I could talk endlessly about the things you can do with apples. But instead, let’s talk sweet potatoes. After all, they define the warm color of this season, exemplifying its deepest shade at their best.
What am I looking forward to most this fall? Orange.
I’m not ready to jump ship from summer. Don’t let this recipe deceive you. However, I admit, I am ready for sweet potatoes. When the weather crisps up, their soft heat brings more warmth to the table than my favorite winter sweater. And you know I am always ready for kale on that table, too.
So, here it is, my first autumn recipe of the year. Even if you’re a weeping-for-summer-to-stay kind of person like me, one thing’s for sure, this meal won’t disappoint. I say that even if the first cool, can’t-eat-outside evening you consume it during does. (Okay, okay. I know. Chilly evenings aren’t as bad as I’m making them out to be.)
Here, garlicky kale and simply steamed sweet potatoes make for a classic pairing, yet an innovative, fall-feeling sushi. The ingredient combo also elevates an already healthy cuisine to a whole other level, which is exactly how I like to embrace the changing of seasons — on the right foot for my body.
You’ll find sweet potato sushi as an option on many vegetarian sections of sushi restaurants. Yet, it’s rarely an item I reach for, given it’s often just sweet potato rolled up in rice. Make it yourself, however, and add some sautéed kale to that equation, and you get an incredibly flavorful roll, with sweet-bitter and soft-chewy contrasts. Creamy avocado, a mainstay in all my sushi dreams, makes the whole thing complete, along with wasabi to offset the sweet potato.
Still a simple roll, no part of this is really complicated. Yet together, it all works so well.
Grab a sushi mat and get ready to roll. Even if you’re mat-less, a clean flat surface, and press from your hands can do the trick. Just don’t tell the sushi chef masters I ever suggested that.
- -3/4 cup short grain brown rice
- -1 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar + dash of salt
- -1 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil
- -7 cloves garlic, sliced
- -1 jumbo bunch of kale, chopped
- -1 Tbsp. soy sauce, or to taste
- -1 medium sweet potato, diced and steamed in a steamer basket for 10 minutes, or until soft
- -3 scallions, diced
- -1 avocado, diced
- -6-8 seaweed nori sushi sheets
- -Handful of walnuts, optional
- -Soy sauce with wasabi powder
- Bring 1 1/2 cups of water and rice to a boil. Add rice wine vinegar and a dash of salt, cover, and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for 45 minutes, or until rice is soft and sticky.
- Meanwhile, add oil to a large skillet. Saute garlic for 2 minutes, and then add 1/2 the kale. Use tongs to help it wilt, and then add the remaining kale to the pan. Saute 6-8 minutes, stirring frequently, or until kale is tender, adding soy sauce half way. Depending on how large of a bunch of kale you have, you may need to adjust the soy sauce seasoning, to taste.
- When rice is finished, let cool until warm to the touch. Using a large cutting board or flat clean surface, lay out a nori sheet. (Place on top of sushi mat, if using, lining up the long edge of the sheet with the edge closest to you.) Fill a large bowl with water and set nearby.
- Spread a thin, 3/4-inch wide layer of rice across nori sheet, lengthwise, leaving 1-inch border on side farthest from you. Add a single layer of sweet potato cubes, followed by a line of kale, sprinkle of scallions and avocado. Add walnuts, if using.
- Grab hold of edge of mat closest to you with your thumbs and use your remaining fingers to hold veggie fillings in place as you fold mat over so that the upper and lower edges of rice meet. (If not using a mat, just gently roll with your hands, giving a good press along the roll as you make the first seal.) Give the rolled mat a gentle squeeze, open the mat, and then continue rolling. Dampen fingertips and seal the outer edge of nori sheet to the roll.
- Place roll, seam side down, onto a cutting board. Using a sharp knife, roll in half. Cut each half in half. Finish by making a cut down the center of each individual piece of the roll. (It can help to wet the knife as you do this.)
- Add wasabi powder to a small dish of soy sauce. Serve.
Likely you will have extra kale leftover. Serve as a side and rejoice.