Parties to attend, gifts to wrap, flights to catch ... with all the busyness of the holidays, finding the time and energy to cook a proper, nourishing meal can be a challenge. But unless you intend to eat cookies for dinner (it's okay, we won't tell!), it can make all the difference to plan for a few simple and healthy dishes. Here's one of our go-tos: savory stuffed sweet potatoes with beans and greens. It can be a complete meal by itself, and is adaptable to what you have on hand.
Depending on your schedule and inclination, you can cook this all at once, make some of it beforehand, or make the entire thing ahead and warm it up before serving. (Eating it cold isn't so terrible, either.) In any case, it makes a satisfying meal full of colors and textures and the warm flavors of rosemary, garlic, and red pepper – and significantly more nutrients than a plate of cookies.
The sweet potatoes take about an hour to bake, but they're hands-off so you can use the time to write holiday cards or spend time with family or simply catch your breath. If you like, bake the sweet potatoes ahead, store them in the refrigerator for 3-5 days, and reheat.
If you're cooking the beans from scratch, you might simmer them with a bay leaf, a sprig of rosemary, and a sprig of sage. Of course, you can also use canned beans, which are quick and easy. Although we cooked with Great Northern beans and curly kale in these pictures, we encourage you to think of this recipe as a template and experiment with other varieties of beans and greens, from Tuscan kale to chard, cannellini beans to chickpeas.
Stuffed Sweet Potatoes with Beans and Greens
4 sweet potatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 shallot, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 (4-inch) sprig fresh rosemary
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 1/2 cups (or 1 can) cooked and drained white beans
6 cups kale, trimmed and sliced into ribbons
Juice of 1/4 lemon
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Scrub the sweet potatoes and prick them in a few places with a fork. Place them on a baking sheet and bake until soft all the way through, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Start the beans and greens about 15 to 20 minutes before the sweet potatoes are done.
In a wide, deep saucepan with a cover, heat the olive oil over low-moderate heat. Add the shallots and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, rosemary sprig, and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring, for about a minute. Add the beans and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the kale, cover the pan, and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes or until the kale is soft. Remove the rosemary sprig, stir in the lemon juice, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
To serve, slice each sweet potato lengthwise and push on the ends to open up the middle. Spoon the beans and greens into the center.
(Images: Emily Ho)