My lovely friend Lise (who’s tasty veggie dip I posted a while back) is such a supportive advocate of my blog. So as the weeks and months go by where I’m too busy (read: lazy) to post as often as I used to, the pangs of guilt always make me think of her. (Thanks a lot, Lise)
We made dinner plans recently and she suggested making something tasty together and doing a blog post on it. So here I am, almost 2 months later, finally posting our delicious meal!
We adapted this recipe from one of Gwyneth Paltrow’s goop newsletters, where she talks about things like her recommended vacation spots and favorite clothing stores and new organic juice cleanses, all of which I can barely afford to read about. But she also features some great, healthy, simple recipes, including this one. It’s a vegetarian dish, but so hearty with the yams and black beans, and if you’re feeling extra cow-friendly you could even go vegan without the sour cream garnish.
- 2 yams, peeled
- 1 can black beans
- 2 big handfuls of kale, chopped small
- Juice of 1 lime, plus extra slices for the table
- 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- Olive oil
- 1-2 tablespoons sumac
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- Sea salt
- Cracked pepper
- 1 avocado
- Dollop of sour cream for garnish
The great thing about this dish is that you cook it all in one pan, skillet, pot, whatever you’ve got. It’s such an easy meal to make with almost no mess, and it was absolutely delicious. Lise and I improvised a little because it sounded a little bland, so we added the onion and garlic, and probably threw in about 5 times more spice than the recipe called for.
Now let’s talk about sumac. If you’ve tried it, then you’ll understand the importance of its flavour in a recipe.
My buddy Abdallah (who is not-so-secretly descended from Lebanese royalty NBD) gave me a pouch of this stuff that his parents brought back from Lebanon, so I had the real deal for this recipe.
I’ve never tried anything like it, and there really is no substitute. So I’m going to go ahead and be that annoying food blogger who includes obscure, hard-to-find ingredients in my post, but I promise this one is worth the hunt.
It’s a beautiful, dark red spice often found in Middle Eastern cooking, and has a completely unique, sour flavour. It’s quite lemony, and even a bit like cranberries. It’s so unexpected and just so delicious. It’s truly the star of this dish, so just stop rolling your eyes and me, go to your nearest Mediterranean grocer or pretentious health food store and find some. Or just make friends with a Lebanese prince like me, he’ll hook you up.
I can’t imagine why our dear Gwyneth would only call for a pinch of this stuff, but we threw in about a fistful. Or at least 5 or 6 pinches. Along with almost equal amounts of cumin. We were pretty reckless with our quantities and certainly didn’t use a measuring spoon, so don’t worry too much about portions.
So let’s begin.
Put a nice big pan or skillet over medium-high heat. While that’s heating up, peel your yams and cut them in half.
Lay the cut surface flat on your cutting board and slice into 4 lengthwise strips. Then slice into about 1/2 inch thick pieces.
Next chop your onion and peel your garlic clove. Drizzle your pan with a good glug of olive oil, throw in your chopped onions, and crush your garlic clove into the pan too.
Once your onions begin to turn translucent, add your yams and spices.
Cook for a few minutes, turning them to coat with oil and spices, until they start to brown. If they start looking dry, add a little more olive oil.
After another minute or so, put the lid on your pan, turn the heat down to medium, and let it cook for 5-8 minutes, stirring once or twice, until the yams soften up.
Naturally, this is the perfect time to catch up with your kitchen buddy. And if you’re good at multitasking, you can gossip while chopping your kale into small pieces and straining your can of black beans too.
Once the yams are slightly softened (but still slightly firm and holding their shape), add your black beans and stir to mix. Throw in your kale, mix together and cover for another minute or two.
For Lise and I, the garnish for this dish really wasn’t optional. All the toppings were equally as tasty and important as the main ingredients.
So serve this up in bowls and finish with a few slices of avocado, a dollop of sour cream, another squeeze of lime, a crack of salt and pepper, and another pinch of sumac for colour.
Once you’ve scraped your bowl clean, and maybe even had seconds, you should still have plenty of room in your separate stomach for dessert. (That’s not just me, right?)
I brought home a couple jars of Vancouver’s own seriously good Earnest Ice Cream in Vanilla Bean and Cardamom. The perfect, sweet finish to this simple dinner for 2.
Lise, you were lovely company and a great co-chef!
I’m even thinking about a second date.