Thanksgiving has come and gone, but we still have a month of entertaining to look forward to. December brings lots of opportunities to feed the people we love, from Christmas cookie baking to formal sit-down dinners, and everything in between. But what about feeding ourselves?
Now is the time when I start to get pretty creative in the kitchen, trying out multitudes of new recipes in search of the real keepers. But with so much festive food coming out of my kitchen, I have a tendency to forget about all of the "regular" meals I need to eat in between. I often find myself in a dinner rut, throwing together a hodgepodge of ingredients just to make it to the next meal.
I realized what a shame this is, so I vowed to make some time this month to nourish myself in between all of the holiday cooking madness. This simple yet tasty bruschetta came about from that promise. I had a couple of sweet potatoes left over from Thanksgiving and wanted to use them in a new and creative way. After a little pantry raid, I came up with my new favorite fall lunch.
The quantities for this are really just guidelines here; you can adjust the recipe to your liking. The only real requirement is to use the highest-quality ingredients you can get your hands on. I prefer a dark Grade B maple syrup, the smoothest olive oil, and a tangy French goat cheese. Trust me, it truly makes a difference here.
I quietly enjoyed this luxurious snack yesterday, swaddled in a blanket on my porch watching the last of the bright leaves fall. It felt good to take a little time for myself, in a season often focused more on others. And while I think it is awesome to spend these days doting on those around us, don't forget to take a minute to dote on yourself, too.
1 1/2 to 2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and diced into 1/2-inch pieces
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
4 ounces goat cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds (roasted, salted, and shelled)
6 (1/2-inch) slices sourdough bread, cut on the diagonal
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Sea salt and olive oil, for garnish
Preheat oven to 375°F.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together maple syrup and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add diced sweet potatoes to the maple syrup mixture and season generously with salt and pepper; toss until well combined. Evenly spread the potatoes on a rimmed sheet pan. Bake, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are fork-tender, about 40 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat a grill pan over medium-high to high heat. Brush the bread slices on both sides with remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Grill the bread until grill marks begin to form and the bread is golden brown, about 4 to 5 minutes per side.
Toss the roasted sweet potatoes and pumpkin seeds. Spread a heaping tablespoon of goat cheese onto each slice of bread. Top with a pile of sweet potato mixture. Drizzle with good-quality olive oil (or a nut oil, such as hazelnut or pistachio) and sprinkle with sea salt. Serve warm or at room temperature. Enjoy with a napkin.
Recipe originally published November 2011.
(Images: Nealey Dozier)