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Layered Leek, Bean, and Sweet Potato Gratin

Happy National Sweet Potato month! Yep, February marks a whole month in celebration of one of the world’s most nutrient-dense, and in my opinion, tastiest veggies. Nature’s orange candy is brimming with nutrients, like vitamins A & C, and potassium. It also ranks low on the glycemic index, unlike regular potatoes, helping to prevent those energy levels of yours from taking a roller coaster ride. (Unsure about what that means? Click here to learn more.)

All of this certainly merits a celebration (any time of the year), so of course I was happy to hop in the kitchen this month and shine a light on these sweet thangs. Fortunately, I still have some sweets leftover from my family’s late summer harvest. I decided to put a couple to use in a sweet potato gratin, combining them with flavorful, silky leeks and some buttery butter beans. The result: A healthy, hearty meal just in time for one of my newest favorite national holidays.

Layered Leek, Bean, and Sweet Potato Gratin

(Serves 4)

For the leeks:

  • -1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • -3 medium leeks, cleaned and sliced, discarding extra dark green ends (about 6 cups)
    -3 cloves garlic, minced
    -1 1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning
    -1 cup low-sodium vegetable stock
    -Salt and fresh ground pepper, pinch

For the beans:

  • -1 15 oz. can butter beans, rinsed and drained
    1 large onion, cut into 1-2 inch chunks
    -1 bell pepper, finely diced
    -Scant 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
    -1 tsp. salt
  • -2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

For the bread crumbs:

  • -3 pieces of whole grain bread, toasted
  • -1 1/2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • -Pinch of salt and pepper
  • -Scant 1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning

-2 medium sweet potatoes, sliced 1/4-inch thick

Preheat oven to 400F.

In a large non-stick skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high. Add garlic, leeks, and Italian seasoning and saute until leeks are tender, 8-10 minutes. Season with a pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper. Add vegetable stock and simmer until nearly all of the stock is evaporated, but leaving the leek mixture moist.

In a large bowl, toss beans, onions, peppers, cayenne, salt, and olive oil.

Coat 2 1/2 quart baking dish with cooking spray. Layer bottom of dish with sweet potato slices. Spread leek mixture on top. Spoon beans on top to create an additional layer. Top with remaining sweet potato slices, slightly overlapping if needed.

Cover, and bake for 45 minutes, or until sweet potatoes are tender.

Meanwhile, pulse bread in food processor. Toss crumbs with oil and pinch of salt and pepper.

Remove from oven and spread bread crumbs on top. Bake until bread crumbs are brown and crispy, about 10 minutes.

Roasted Butternut Squash and Leek Soup with Sauteed Portobellos

My mom made a really great potato and leek soup the other week while I was home for the holidays. I decided to make my own version, replacing the summer garden’s potatoes with the fall garden’s butternut squash. The results surpassed my expectations, creating a nutty, slightly sweet and velvety soup, perfect for the cold days that are progressively creeping in. The thing I love about pureed veggie soups is that they yield an extra creamy texture without one drop of heavy cream needed. All that cream will only weigh you down, so don’t bother adding it in. The rich flavors of the roasted veggies alone are more than enough to bolster this soup into a hearty dinnertime meal. Top it off with some sauteed portobellos to add a touch of texture and an extra veggie-derived heartiness. The soup is full of vegetables, but also incredibly full of flavor. No meat, no dairy, and no room to miss either. A perfect vegan-friendly fall/winter meal for any styled diet. Try using any leftovers as great dip for cooked broccoli.

Roasted Butternut Squash and Leek Soup with Sauteed Portobellos

(Serves 5)

-1 head garlic, unpeeled
-1 medium-large butternut squash, peeled and sliced into 1/2-inch semi-circles (about 4 cups)
-4 leeks
-2 cups vegetable broth
-2 cups water
-3 Tbsp. olive oil
-Parsley, chopped
-One batch of sauteed mushrooms (see recipe below)

Preheat oven 400F. Lightly grease a large baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Coat squash with 1 Tbsp. olive oil. Spread out on baking sheet, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Wrap entire head of garlic in aluminum foil and place next to squash. Slice leeks into 1/3 inch circles and place in strainer. Run through water to clean them, and then pat dry. Line a large rectangular cake pan with aluminum foil and lightly grease. Toss leeks with remaining 2 Tbsp. oil. Place in baking pan and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Place squash, garlic, and leeks in oven, and bake 45 minutes, or until squash are fork tender, flipping squash and stirring leeks halfway through. Remove from oven.

Place leeks and squash in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cut end of garlic head, and squeeze out roasted cloves into pan with squash. Add water and vegetable broth and bring to a simmer. Cook for 5 minutes. Remove from heat. In batches, place squash mixture into a blender or food processor, pureeing until smooth, and then returning contents to pan. Serve, topping each bowl with mushrooms and chopped parsley.

Sauteed Portobellos with Thyme

The following recipe can be made up to two days ahead of time.

-6 portobello mushrooms, sliced
-1/2 cup onion, diced
-2 tsp. dried thyme
-1/2 tsp. sugar
-1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
-Salt and pepper, to taste
-1 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil

In a large saute pan, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onions and portobellos. Saute 6 minutes. Whisk together thyme, sugar, vinegar, and generous pinch of salt and pepper. Add to mushrooms, and saute another 7-10 minutes, until mushrooms are tender. Remove from heat.