Sweet Potato Lasagna Shells

For this month’s mindfulness challenge, I am doing Mindful Eating II: Meatless March. This is less an effort about specifically giving up meat since I don’t feel particularly dependent on it (especially when M is out of town), and more an effort to continue to venture into new recipe worlds and expand my go-to repertoire.

Last month I made a delicious sweet potato lasagna out of the fantastic cookbook I got for Christmas: Run Fast, Eat Slow. Although I would love to share these recipes with you, as the authors do not make them freely available online I don’t feel I should either. I can say that 100% of the recipes I’ve made from it are just absolutely fabulous, and I highly recommend you buy it. I’m not affiliated in any way, just a super huge fan!

In any case, inspired by the sweet potato ricotta mixture that made up one of the lasagna layers, I created a meatless dish with similar flavors. I’ve always been intrigued by those jumbo pasta shells and often see recipes in my Pinterest feed, but somehow have never actually made them. I determined now was a good a time as any and set out to make sweet potato lasagna shells.

Sweet potato, ricotta, and spinach make a glorious filling, surrounded by a typical but delightful spaghetti sauce. You can never have too much cheese so some shredded Parmesan graces the top of the dish. The finished product is creamy and a fun mix of sweet with just a little spice from the sauce, which makes it a great way to jazz up an otherwise traditional pairing.

I used a convenient jarred sauce as I was crunched for time, but this would be extra delightful with your favorite homemade version. Extra diced and sautéed veggies, a little crushed red pepper, a splash of red wine, and you’re good to go. I decided I didn’t want my shells to be drenched in sauce, but if you like alllll the sauce then definitely use the larger end of the range listed in the recipe.

My friends know I could eat sweet potatoes all day every day, but I have to stress this is probably one of my new favorite dishes. I split my recipe into two 8×8″ pans and placed one in the freezer to bake later, and I’m already excited to have it again. It reheats great for leftovers and goes excellent with a side salad or roasted veggies.

This is a slightly time-consuming meal since you have to cook the shells and stuff them before baking the whole shebang, but it can be made more weeknight friendly by making the filling and the sauce ahead of time, or even assembling the dish completely and refrigerating until you’re ready to bake it. This may increase the baking time a bit so make sure you check the shells are heated through.

And just in case the crew you’re feeding can’t possibly give up meat, this dish would be excellent with some diced bacon or your favorite ground meat in the sauce.

Sweet Potato Lasagna Shells

Inspired by Run Fast, Eat Slow
Serves 8-10

Ingredients

1 box jumbo pasta shells (40+ shells)

1 medium onion, diced
1 large bell pepper, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp olive oil

32-48 oz spaghetti sauce (use the larger amount if you like lots of sauce)
2-4 Tbsp red wine (optional)
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

1 cup shredded Parmesan  or mozzarella cheese
freshly ground pepper, to taste

2 cups cooked sweet potato puree
16 oz whole-fat ricotta cheese
1 cup (packed) finely chopped spinach
2 eggs, beaten

Directions

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions, 1 minute less than al dente. Drain, rinse in cool water, and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat.
  3. Add onion, bell pepper, and garlic and sauté until onions are softened and translucent.
  4. Add spaghetti sauce, red wine, and pepper flakes reduce heat to low, and simmer for at least 10 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, mix together sweet potato, ricotta, spinach, and eggs until completely combined.
  6. Transfer ricotta mixture to a large Ziploc bag and snip a 1/2″ slice off the tip.
  7. Stuff shells with the filling, about two tablespoons per shell.
  8. Spread about 1 cup of sauce on the bottom of a 9×13″ baking dish.
  9. Arrange the shells in a single layer in the dish. You should be able to squish about 40 shells into the pan. (I had a couple ripped shells, and a couple extra filled ones, which made a great mid-cooking snack.)
  10. Spread remaining sauce on top of the shells and sprinkle evenly with shredded cheese. Add freshly ground pepper, to taste.
  11. Cover pan with foil and bake until sauce is bubbly, about 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake an additional 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted and lightly browned.
  12. Serve hot with your favorite roasted vegetable (goes great with Brussels sprouts!)

Notes

If you’re feeling omnivorous, some bacon, pancetta, or Italian sausage would be great additions to the sauce.

If you’re vegetarian such that you don’t eat eggs, you can just leave these out. The texture will be a little different (a bit runnier) but the flavor will still be great.

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Sweet Potato Soup

As you may have noticed, I love me some sweet potatoes. Served with eggs for breakfast, in a salad for lunch, or as a side of fries for dinner, they are fantastic for any and every meal of the day. Even better, they are a pretty healthy option and low on the glycemic index, which is great for those of you that care about things like that.

Sweet Potato Soup {{Baking Bytes}}

A few months ago I started meal prepping for my work lunches. Each weekend I make a meal and portion into lunch-sized servings to eat throughout the week. I try to change it up each week with salads, quinoa bowls, spaghetti squash, etc, so I don’t get bored. It has helped a lot to have healthy meals ready to go and in correct portions for each day of the week, as well as given me the opportunity to try lots of new recipes that wouldn’t be particularly appealing to M.

Sweet Potato Soup {{Baking Bytes}}

One of the new recipes I’ve tried is this sweet potato soup. I made a few changes to the original, by substituting zucchini for celery and nixing the nutmeg in favor of chipotle. It’s light but filling, vegetarian (vegan if you want), and makes a great lunch for chilly days, especially when served with a side of roasted Brussels sprouts. This soup reheats perfectly and is nice and thick, which I personally think makes it feel more filling. I like mine extra thick but you can use 1 less potato or add a little extra stock/water to thin yours down if you prefer.

Sweet Potato Soup {{Baking Bytes}}

Smooth and creamy and with great sweet potato flavor, this soup has a slight kick from the cinnamon and chipotle that tones down its inherent sweetness. I have a pretty low spice tolerance, so feel free to up the spices if you want a more kapow flavor, but I recommend waiting till after it’s puréed to do so.

This soup is pretty simple and relatively quick, which makes it a pretty good weeknight dinner even without leftovers. Alternatively, it also works great in the slow cooker, so I have instructions for both methods below. Serve with a side of roasted broccoli or Brussels sprouts and a savory whole-grain bread to hit all the food groups and most of the rainbow.

Sweet Potato Soup {{Baking Bytes}}

PS – Isn’t this bowl so great? It has a handle and a water-tight vented lid which makes it a great to-go option and perfect for heating in the microwave. I got it in 6 different colors and I’m very excited to use them both for work lunches and for showcasing new recipes on here!

Sweet Potato Soup {{Baking Bytes}}

Sweet Potato Soup

Adapted from I Heart Naptime
Makes about 3 quarts (8-12 servings)

Ingredients

2 Tbsp unsalted butter or olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup diced zucchini (or celery)
3 cloves garlic, minced

3-4 medium-large sweet potatoes, washed and cubed  (about 10 cups)
4 cups vegetable stock

1 tsp ground cinnamon, to taste
1/2 tsp ground chipotle, to taste
pinch of salt

1/3 cup whipping cream, optional

Stove Top Directions

  1. In a large pot over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Add onions, zucchini (or celery), and garlic, and sauté about 5 minutes, or until onion is softened and translucent.
  2. Increase heat to high and add sweet potatoes, vegetable stock, and spices. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and cook uncovered 20-30 minutes, or until potatoes are easily pierced with a fork.
  3. Remove from heat and use an immersion blender (or any blender) to purée the soup completely.
  4. Stir in the cream and have a quick taste. If desired, add extra spices now.
  5. Either serve immediately or return to the stove to simmer until ready to eat. (If you added more spice, I recommend simmering for at least 10 minutes afterwards.)
  6. Serve topped with a sprinkle of extra cinnamon or chipotle if desired.

Slow Cooker Directions

  1. Add all ingredients except cream to a slow cooker (you can nix the butter/oil if you want.)
  2. Cook on high 3-4 hours, or on low 6-8 hours, or until potatoes are easily pierced with a fork.
  3. Use an immersion blender (or any blender) to purée the soup completely.
  4. Stir in the cream and have a quick taste. If desired, add extra spices now.
  5. Either serve immediately or return to slow cooker on “warm” until ready to eat. (If you added more spice, I recommend cooking for at least 10 minutes afterwards.)
  6. Served topped with a sprinkle of extra cinnamon or chipotle if desired.

Notes

Vegans can either leave this out, or substitute coconut cream (or milk), although it may give the soup a slight coconut flavor if you do so.

Arugula Sweet Potato Salad with Cinnamon Balsamic Vinaigrette

Lately I’ve been all aboard the sweet potato train, and today’s post will hopefully get you on the bandwagon as well. I love sweet potatoes in pretty much any form, and could happily eat them for several meals a day. Luckily they are great all year round as French fries or a delicious breakfast, and work just as well in salads as they do in soups and chilis.

Arugula Sweet Potato Salad {{Baking Bytes}}

Several months ago my office had a catered lunch that was a bit higher class than our norm. Although all the food was delicious, the one that made the most impact on me was an arugula and spiced sweet potato quinoa salad. Their version was sweet, with heavily candied nuts, sugary dried cranberries, and a sweetened balsamic vinaigrette amongst the quinoa, arugula, and goat cheese. Although I loved this combination, it really was like eating dessert with arugula in it which isn’t necessarily something I want to do very often.

Arugula Sweet Potato Salad {{Baking Bytes}}

Inspired by their concoction, I opted to test out a more savory version for myself. I kept the cinnamon roasted sweet potatoes but only lightly honeyed my walnuts. I also nixed the cranberries and used bacon instead, and adjusted the arugula:quinoa ratio to be more in favor of the former. Originally I was going to use brie as chèvre (goat cheese) can be exorbitantly expensive, but I discovered Costco carries goat cheese at an incredibly reasonable price and so I kept that flavor as well. Feel free to substitute brie or another neutral soft cheese if you prefer.

Arugula Sweet Potato Salad {{Baking Bytes}}

The spiced sweet potatoes, salty bacon, creamy chèvre and lightly sweetened and toasted walnuts come together in that fantastic sweet-and-salty juxtaposition that is so popular these days. Arugula and quinoa make a great base and let salad act either as a light lunch or a great side dish.

To round out the experience, I made a cinnamon balsamic vinaigrette only slightly sweetened with honey to mellow the flavor. The dressing gives the salad more of a punch of flavor, and I highly recommend you make it too. In fact, maybe make extra and use it on your other salads too since it’s just that delicious.

Arugula Sweet Potato Salad {{Baking Bytes}}

Although my original recipe is clearly neither vegetarian nor vegan, it could easily be altered for those diet preferences. Vegetarians can simply ditch the bacon, and a pinch of salt to the dressing, and carry on as normal. Vegans will want to substitute maple syrup in lieu of the honey as well as nix the cheese. You may want to add another ingredient to round it out, dried cranberries or salted almonds would both be great options, depending on which flavor route you want to go.

Full of cinnamon flavor, tasty sweet potatoes and a tinge of sweetness, this would be a superb side dish to grace your Thanksgiving table. Instead of those overly sugary sweet potato and marshmallow concoctions normally served this time of year, this salad would be a healthier and more sophisticated twist for this year. Even better, you can absolutely make it ahead (even a few days!) and store it in the fridge until ready to use. It’s delicious cold, at room temperature, or warmed, so pick your favorite or the most convenient and serve it as such.

Arugula Sweet Potato Salad {{Baking Bytes}}

The dressing makes a fair amount, so start with half of the recipe and stir in more to taste or serve on the side for guests to add as they like. I am personally a light dressing kind of person but many people prefer a stronger flavor, and it’s good to have options.

If you’re not doing the Thanksgiving thing, or don’t want to wait that long, this also make a great lunch. I made a batch on Sunday and got about 4-5 lunches out of it. Stored in the fridge, it reheated beautifully at work for the rest of the week. Additionally, if you’re not a fan of arugula, some kind of baby spring mix would be a great substitution.

Arugula Sweet Potato Salad & Cinnamon Balsamic Vinaigrette

Inspired by Food for Thought and Just a Pinch
Serves 6-8 (side dish) or about 4 (lunch)

Ingredients

Salad
4 cups cubed sweet potatoes
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp cinnamon

3/4 cup walnuts, chopped
1 Tbsp honey or maple syrup

6 slices bacon (optional)1

1 cup quinoa
2 cups water

5 oz arugula (or leafy veggie/mix of choice)
~4oz goat cheese (or brie, optional)1

Dressing
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tsp honey or maple syrup
1 tsp cinnamon

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Line two cookie sheets with foil or parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine sweet potatoes, olive oil, and cinnamon. Stir with a rubber scraper until potatoes are well coated. Arrange in one layer on half of a cookie sheet.
  3. In the same bowl, combine walnuts and honey and stir until completely coated. (Heat the honey sightly to liquify for easier stirring.) Arrange in one layer on the other half of the cookie sheet.
  4. Arrange bacon in one layer on the other cookie sheet.
  5. Place cookie sheets in oven (I put the potatoes on the middle rung, and the bacon one rung below it) and bake for 8-10 minutes, or until walnuts are lightly toasted.
  6. Remove the walnuts to a plate to cool. Continue baking potatoes and bacon for 15-20 minutes, until potatoes are easily pierced with a fork, and bacon is cooked to desired doneness.
  7. Remove bacon to paper towels to cool, pressing to remove excess grease. Dice bacon and set aside.
  8. Meanwhile, in a medium pot bring quinoa and water to a boil, then cover and simmer until all liquid is soaked up, about 15 minutes. Uncover and set aside.
  9. In a small bowl, whisk together dressing ingredients until completely combined.
  10. In a large bowl, combine arugula and half the dressing, tossing to coat. Add quinoa and sweet potatoes, and stir gently until well combined.
  11. Add walnuts (breaking apart if necessary), diced bacon, and goat cheese, stirring gently to combine.
  12. Serve immediately, later today, or tomorrow since it’s good at pretty much any temperature. Store leftovers in the fridge, or make it ahead the night before. Reheats well with a brief stint in the microwave and is also excellent right out of the fridge.
  13. Add additional dressing just before serving if necessary, or serve it on the side.
  14. Delicious as a side dish (6-8 servings) or for a lighter lunch (4 servings).

Notes

For a vegetarian option, just leave out the bacon, it’s great without it too! To get that added salty flavor, add a pinch to the dressing or include a few chopped salted almonds in its place. Vegans could also use maple syrup and ditch the cheese, although you may want to add another ingredient (maybe dried cranberries?), and follow the same salty suggestion.

Sunrise Sweet Potato

Today I bring you a recipe I’ve been planning for months. Why so long you ask? That’s a good question. Is it hard? Nope. Did it take a lot of iterations to figure out? Nope. Does Lindsey greatly struggle with frying eggs pretty enough to photograph? Turns out, yes.

Sunrise Sweet Potato {{Baking Bytes}}

Typically I scramble eggs because it’s way easier and I like to throw in a bunch of extra stuff anyway, but for the purposes of this recipe a fried egg is really my favorite combination. Ideally lightly browned on the bottom with the yolk still a bit runny, it’s a delicious savory meal for any time of the day. Mashed sweet potato, sautéed bell peppers, and a fried eggs are drizzled with a maple syrup and chipotle combo that compliments and juxtaposes the other flavors all in one delicious bite.

Sunrise Sweet Potato {{Baking Bytes}}

I really meant to share this earlier in the summer but my aforementioned struggle with frying pretty eggs deterred me from doing so. As you can see by my over-medium (hard) version here, I eventually gave up. My own personal shortcomings should not prevent anyone from making this delicious recipe, so please forgive the lack of runny yolk.

You may be skeptical of the sweet potato and egg combination but I assure you it is fantastic. Or perhaps, like M, you’re a little held up on the maple chipotle situation that meshes with the whole thing. Even he admitted maple and chipotle are a delicious breakfast addition for a sweet and savory item. (And yes, this recipe is also somewhat inspired by Biga Pizza, just like last month’s ice cream flavor.)

Sunrise Sweet Potato {{Baking Bytes}}

If, like me, you struggle with frying eggs, you can definitely go scrambled or poached or hard-boiled or any method you prefer. I find it easiest to use two separate small frying pans for the eggs and peppers anyway, but if you have better kitchen skills than I do feel free to do it all in one. For ease and quickness, I cook my sweet potato in the microwave, but you can also do a bunch at once in the oven if you’re feeding more than a couple of people. For myself I typically use just one egg, but after a 10-mile run I decided two was necessary.

Sunrise Sweet Potato {{Baking Bytes}}

This is a fantastic post-run meal, a hearty brunch, a delicious lunch, or a fun dinner. I encourage you to make it for whatever you think is the best option, but really, they are all delightful.

And if you have leftover chipotle syrup, it’s great on plain yogurt, on ice cream, on a diced peach warmed in the microwave, for dipping your bacon or sausage, or to top your usual griddle items like pancakes and waffles. Make a larger batch and store it in the fridge, or mix it up on the fly; totally up to you.

Sunrise Sweet Potato
Makes 2 servings

Ingredients

1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/2-1 tsp ground chipotle

1 medium-large yam or sweet potato
2-4 eggs
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 bell pepper, diced

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together maple syrup and chipotle. Set aside.
  2. Vigorously scrub your potato, then use a fork to prick several holes all over it.
  3. Microwave 5-10 minutes, until easily pierced with a fork.
  4. Meanwhile, sauté bell pepper in oil over medium heat to desired doneness, about 5 minutes.
  5. At the same time, prepare eggs using preferred method. I like to use fried eggs, but poached or scrambled would be great also.
  6. Just before the eggs are done (don’t forget about them), carefully slice your sweet potato in half. Use a fork to mash the insides and then drizzle with 1-2 tsp of the chipotle syrup.
  7. Top each potato will bell peppers and eggs, then drizzle with additional syrup.
  8. Serve immediately.