Spicy Maple Roasted Root Vegetables

Welcome to week two, friends. Continuing with the sweet and spicy theme, this time we’re pairing maple with a snazzy piri piri spice blend on some lovely roasted root vegetables perfect for cozy evenings.

Roasted Spicy Maple Veggies {{Baking Bytes}}

Sweet and spicy is my favorite combination and in my opinion nothing works quite so well on the sweet side as maple syrup. With its own robust flavor, maple is nicely complemented by a number of spicy additions, my own favorite being chipotle. I ventured slightly off my beaten path in favor of using Olivelle’s Piri Piri World Spice blend, featuring a number of different chili peppers and a hint of lemon. It packs quite a bit of heat which means the tin will last other wusses like me quite a long time.

Roasted Spicy Maple Veggies {{Baking Bytes}}

I actually made this recipe a bit differently the first time, and then promptly re-made it after the release of their Vanilla Maple Olive Oil at the end of September. I knew immediately it was perfect for this recipe and round two was even better than the first iteration. (I originally used Caramelized Garlic, which you can see in the round one pictures.)

Roasted Spicy Maple Veggies {{Baking Bytes}}

You can use any firm vegetables here, but I chose a mixture of my favorite fall options. Acorn (or butternut) squash are prolific this time of year, and go well with both sweet and savory flavors. Sweet potatoes are a staple in my world and I rounded out the festive orange ensemble with carrot. Pumpkin would also work nicely to keep monochromatic medley, or for some contrasting color add Brussels sprouts as I did in my second batch.

Roasted Spicy Maple Veggies {{Baking Bytes}}

The maple flavor of the olive oil is not sweet, but has an amazing savory profile that works perfectly with the heat of the spice blend. I rounded mine out with a bit of Cumin Spice Sea Salt, to add just a bit more depth to the whole shebang.

For that hint of sweet and a boost of maple flavor, the roasted veggies are lightly drizzled with pure maple syrup and then popped in the oven for a few more minutes to let it caramelize a bit. I kept mine more on the spicy side than the sweet side, but for a more standard glazed carrot experience just up the maple syrup to two or more tablespoons. Sweet, spicy, and cozy, this recipe is definitely going to become a go-to on cold days.

spicy_maple_veggies_4

A perfect complement to any fall dinner, the sweet and spicy combination brings some warmth and fun to any meal. It’s perfect for Thanksgiving too, going beyond those traditional sugar-filled recipes and adding a little something extra to the table. On the off chance you have any leftovers, it’s also perfect atop a spinach salad or underneath a fried egg.

Spicy Maple Roasted Root Vegetables

Serves 4

Ingredients

4 large carrots, peeled and diced1
1 small butternut or acorn squash, peeled and diced
1 medium sweet potato, diced

2 Tbsp Vanilla Maple (or Caramelized Garlic) Olive Oil
3/4 tsp Piri Piri World Spice, to taste2
1/4 tsp Cumin Spice Sea Salt

1-2 Tbsp pure maple syrup, to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly spray a baking sheet with oil or non-stick spray.
  2. Combine all veggies in a medium bowl, and add olive oil and spice blend. Use a rubber scraper to toss until well coated.
  3. Spread veggies evenly on prepared baking sheet (save your bowl), and roast for 15-20 minutes, until just before done.
  4. Return veggies to the bowl and toss with maple syrup. Spread back onto the baking sheet and roast another 3-5 minutes to allow syrup to lightly caramelize.
  5. Serve promptly.

Notes

About 4-6 cups total veggies, so mix and match to your heart’s content.

For a mild experience, use 1/2 teaspoon, or if you like more heat, increase to 1 or 1 1/2 teaspoons.

Chipotle-Lime Tuna-Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

With spring having officially grace us with its presence, we are often flipping between snow, rain, and sun (sometimes all in the same day.) I don’t know about you all, but I am ready for salad season. I do eat salads all year round but there’s something about summer that makes me crave it as an entree rather than just a side, and I get a lot more creative with my toppings when I’m not sautéing them all just for the warmth.

 

Chipotle-Lime Tuna-Stuffed Sweet Potatoes {{Baking Bytes}}

A few weeks ago I topped a sweet potato with tuna salad and a new era was born. If you’re not normally  a tuna salad fan don’t leave yet! This chipotle-lime crema might just change your mind. Inspired by the chipotle ranch from one of my favorite salads at a local lunch spot, I make mine with plain Greek yogurt for a bit of tang. I love this crema for salads, tacos, eggs, and for dipping quesadillas and I hope you do too.

Chipotle-Lime Crema {{Baking Bytes}}

Tangy yogurt, spicy chipotle peppers, and lime juice are a perfect blend of tart and spicy. A bit of salt rounds it out nicely, and adding garlic is rarely a poor decision. It’s easy to adjust the spice level with makes it great for any tolerance, and you could definitely add cilantro if you’re in to that sort of thing. Not a fan of Greek yogurt? Swap it out for sour cream or mayo as you prefer.

Chipotle-Lime Tuna-Stuffed Sweet Potatoes {{Baking Bytes}}

M’s uncle is an avid fisherman and we read the benefits with pints of home-canned wild-caught Albacore. I’ve always been a tuna fan but this truly takes it to a whole new level. But don’t worry, the canned stuff works just fine here too. Mixing it with the chipotle crema adds a lovely spiciness while maintaining the creamier texture. It’s great for sandwiches, patty melts, wraps, or however you normally eat your tuna salad (let me know in the comments!) but my favorite way is definitely atop a sweet potato.

Chipotle-Lime Tuna-Stuffed Sweet Potatoes {{Baking Bytes}}

The sweetness of the baked potato blends perfectly with the spicy crema. Sautéed bell peppers and red onion brings some color and amps up the South-of-the-border vibe, and a pile of lightly-dressed arugula beneath the whole thing gives it a filling veggie boost. (If arugula isn’t your thing, spinach or kale also work nicely.) Top the whole thing with an extra drizzle of crema, some matchstick-cut radishes, and freshly ground pepper for a light and tasty meal-prep-friendly lunch or dinner.

 

Chipotle-Lime Tuna-Stuffed Sweet Potatoes {{Baking Bytes}}

For leftovers, I heated my sweet potato and tuna for a warming experience, but it’s delicious cold too. You can also easily satiate bigger eaters with bigger potatoes and/or by scaling up the tuna salad portions, and roasting all the potatoes ahead of time means the whole thing can come together right quick. Whether you choose to serve it for lunch or dinner, this tuna salad will be a delicious new twist on a classic.

Chipotle-Lime Tuna-Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Serves 4

Ingredients

2-4 large sweet potatoes (depending on how hungry you are)

3-4 cans Albacore tuna
1/4 – 1/2 cup chipotle-lime crema, to taste (below)
1 Tbsp (Caramelized Garlic) olive oil

1 bell pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced

2 large radishes, cut into matchsticks
5oz arugula (or any leafy greens)

Chipotle-Lime Crema
1  cup plain Greek yogurt, sour cream, or mayo (or combination thereof)
1 large Chipotle pepper in adobo
1 1/2 Tbsp lime juice
1/2 Tbsp adobo sauce
1 large clove garlic (optional)
1/2 tsp (Roasted Garlic) coarse sea salt

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Prick sweet potatoes with a fork and bake for 40-60 minutes, or until fork tender.
  3. Meanwhile, combine all crema ingredients in a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. Taste and add additional salt, adobo sauce, or lime juice as preferred.
  4. In a small mixing bowl, mash together tuna and 1/4 sauce until well incorporated. Taste and mix in additional sauce as desired. Set aside.
  5. Add olive oil to a small pan over medium heat.
  6. When the oil is simmering, sauté bell pepper and onion until onion is translucent.
  7. In a large mixing bowl, toss greens with 2-4 tablespoons crema until evenly coated. Divide between four plates.
  8. On each plate, add 1/4 of the peppers and onion, sweet potato, and tuna mixture.
  9. Serve garnished with additional crema, radishes, and freshly cracked pepper.

Notes

Words

Mexican Sweet Potato Quinoa Salad

As the weather starts to cool, the fall flavors are introduced with avengeance. Suddenly it’s pumpkin this and spiced that, baked goods everywhere and soups filling my Pinterest feed. As much as I love all of these things, this year I’m not quite ready to dive head first in to traditional autumn goods, and also my oven is broken so I couldn’t even if I wanted to. The mountain west poses an added challenge as September and October can intermittently still be quite warm. I’ve mentioned this before, but it usually inspires me to meal prep dishes that can be enjoyed either warm or chilled, such that I can tailor it according to the day’s weather.

Mexican Sweet Potato Quinoa Salad {{Baking Bytes}}

A couple of years ago I created an arugula sweet potato salad that I still love. It invites the coziness of cinnamon lightly sweetened with maple syrup to a healthier form, and is perfect for your Thanksgiving table. However, looking to spice things up a bit I decided to take that idea and give it a more south of the border twist.

Roasted sweet potatoes, bell peppers, and red onions are stirred in with a generous helping of black beans, corn, and quinoa. Vegan by nature, it can be dressed up with cheese or meat if you like. Goat cheese is my personal preference (shocking) since the creaminess blends so nicely with the smokey dressing.

Mexican Sweet Potato Quinoa Salad {{Baking Bytes}}

As always, this one is easy to tailor to your personal spice levels. Leave it as is for a relatively mild experience, or pile on the spices for some extra heat. The dressing is the easiest place to up the spices but if you know you’re a spice lover, add extra to the roasting process too.

This works great as an entree or a side dish, served atop fresh greens for some color and extra freshness. Add lots of greens for a more traditional salad, or use fewer for more of a Buddha bowl style meal. Either way, this is an easy recipe that’s great for meal prepping, serving a crowd, or taking to a potluck. Serve it chilled in the summer or warm in the winter and it’s sure to be a hit. For potluck option, I’d recommend tossing the quinoa mixture with the greens ahead of time since it will be easier for people to serve themselves.

Mexican Sweet Potato Quinoa Salad {{Baking Bytes}}

Have more leftovers than you want? Top a generous scoop with a fried or poached egg and a drizzle of dressing for a fun and healthy breakfast! The filling also works nicely for stuffed peppers, lettuce wraps, or burritos if you’re looking for ways to switch it up a little.

Mexican Sweet Potato Quinoa Salad

Serves 6

Ingredients

1 large sweet potato, scrubbed and diced
1 large bell pepper, diced
1/2 medium red onion, diced

1 Tbsp + 1/2 tsp ground chilis, divided (I used pasilla)
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt
1 tsp oregano
3/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes, to taste

1 1/2 cups uncooked quinoa
3 cups water (or broth)

1 (15 oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 cups frozen corn, thawed and drained
12 oz (or more) leafy greens

Spicy Smoked Balsamic Dressing (below)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. In a large bowl, combine sweet potato, bell pepper, onion, 1 Tbsp chili powder, 1 1/2 tsp cumin, salt, oregano, 1/2 tsp paprika, and red pepper flakes. Stir until veggies are well coated.
  3. Spread evenly on a baking sheet and roast in preheated oven until sweet potatoes are fork tender, about 30 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan combine quinoa, water, 1/2 tsp chili powder, 1/2 tsp cumin, and 1/4 tsp paprika. Cook quinoa as directed on your package.
  5. When veggies and quinoa are both cooked, return to your large bowl and gently stir in black beans and corn until evenly distributed.
  6. Either serve atop fresh greens or stir them in too.
  7. Serve hot or chilled, drizzled with dressing and topped with cheese, if desired.

Smoked Balsamic Dressing {{Baking Bytes}}

Smokey and spicy and just a little sweet, this dressing is excellent by itself to use for almost any salad, bowl, or wrap that you can dream up. The smoked balsamic vinegar from Olivelle is one of my favorites; already reminiscent of barbecue sauce, adding the garlic oil and some extra spices gives it a little kick. If you are looking for a little sweeter variety, a bit of maple syrup blends in nicely.

Spicy Smoked Balsamic Dressing

Makes about 1 cup

Ingredients

3 oz Olivelle caramelized garlic olive oil1
1 1/2 oz Olivelle smoked balsamic vinegar1
1 – 2 tsp ground chilis
1/2 tsp paprika (smoked or regular)
1 – 2 tsp maple syrup (optional)

Directions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a small jar. Whisk or shake vigorously to combine.
  2. Taste and adjust spices or sweetness as necessary.

Notes

I highly recommend Olivelle products and they have an online store if you don’t have a sister store nearby. However, if you must you can substitute regular extra virgin olive oil and 1-2 minced garlic cloves or 1/2 – 1 teaspoons garlic powder, and/or regular barrel aged balsamic vinegar and a teaspoon or two of barbecue sauce.

Chipotle Sweet Potato Biscuits

Cold weather means warm soup, and warm soup calls for warm breads. I love a hearty soup, stew, or chili when the cold days hit, and I always take the opportunity to make a bread side to go with it. Beer bread and cornbread are my go-to options, but after seeing this recipe on Pinterest I knew I had to set those aside and give these a try.

Olive Oil Biscuits {{Baking Bytes}}

The original recipe immediately piqued my interest, combining my love affairs with both sweet potato and olive oil, and perhaps giving me an excellent chance to make use of my extensive Olivelle oil collection. Thanksgiving offered a large audience and so I set off to try it out.

Olive Oil Biscuits {{Baking Bytes}}

For my first attempt, I stuck largely to the original recipe, tweaking only to a sweet cream butter infused oil for half of it, and substituting rosemary for the sage. Paired with a rosemary herb butter, they were a delicious compliment to the usual Thanksgiving suspects, and I would definitely make that version again.

However, I had a hunch that my favorite maple and chipotle duo would work splendidly here, and gave that a try next. A hint of sweet from the syrup and a little kick from the chipotle turn this is into a perfect side for chilis or more Mexican-inspired soups. (They would be awesome with enchilada soup, for example.)

Olive Oil Biscuits {{Baking Bytes}}

Since I was pairing mine with a spicy chili, I kept the biscuits with just a little kick to pull the flavors together. If you have other ideas, or just want all the heat, feel free to increase to your heart’s content.

Leftovers (if you don’t eat them all straight off the pan) can be enjoyed for several days, and are delightful on their own with butter and a drizzle of maple syrup, or your favorite maple butter. Better yet, top them with a fried egg and a dollop of goat cheese along with that syrup, and you have a breakfast of champions.

Olive Oil Biscuits {{Baking Bytes}}

(I made that maple butter shown above, but it wasn’t 100% what I wanted. If I perfect the recipe, I’ll be sure to get it up here.)

Chipotle Sweet Potato Biscuits

Adapted from The Speckled Palate
Makes about 16 biscuits

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups sweet potato puree
2-4 Tbsp maple syrup
olive oil to 1 cup (use an infused oil for extra flavor!)

3 1/2 cups flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp chipotle power, to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Line two baking sheets with a silicon baking mat (or parchment paper.) Set aside.
  2. In a liquid measuring cup, pour desired amount of maple syrup.
  3. Pour in olive oil until combined total is 1 cup. (e.g. if you used 4 Tbsp maple syrup, you will add 3/4 cup olive oil to total 1 cup)
  4. In the bowl of your stand mixer, stir together sweet potato and liquids until combined and smooth.
  5. Add remaining ingredients and stir until mixed, then continue to stir another 30 seconds.
  6. Lightly flour a cutting board or counter and press or roll dough into a rectangle 1/2″ – 3/4″ high.
  7. Using a 2″ biscuit cutter, cut out biscuits. Gently reshape scraps in order to cut as many biscuits as possible.
  8. Arrange biscuits at least 1″ apart on prepared baking sheets.
  9. Bake for 10-14 minutes, or until bottoms are lightly browned and biscuits are golden.
  10. Remove to a cooling rack to cool briefly, then serve warm with your favorite chili our soup.

Sweet Potato Alfredo

Consistent readers will know about my obsession with sweet potatoes, but if you’re new here perhaps you haven’t been initiated yet. I could (and sometimes do) eat sweet potatoes with every meal, and they are definitely one of my favorite autumn flavors. I’m not dissing pumpkin by any means, but the sweet potato is an extremely versatile flavor and I love it equally in both sweet and savory dishes.

When the weather cools most of us gladly welcome the cozy comfort foods like pasta and chili, and I’m no exception. Pasta is a wonderful meal on a cold day, and a good creamy sauce is hard to beat. However, most of them are rather heavy (both in calories and in experience) and it’s not always what I’m looking for. This sauce was somewhat of an experiment born of Pinterest inspiration, but I have a feeling I’ll be meal-prepping it often for lunches this year. The picture might look like mac and cheese, but it’s actually a sweet potato Alfredo.

The thick and creamy experience of a quality Alfredo sauce is typically reached with, well, heavy cream. In this case it (obviously) comes from the sweet potato, which admittedly surprised me in how excellently it works. Honestly, it kind of blew my mind. The flavor is also fantastic, and not just for die-hard sweet potato fans. Smooth and creamy like a sauce should be, a wonderful fall flavor, and quite a bit lighter than your standard heavy cream experience.

Personally I think it’s delightful all on its own, but for a little crunch some toasted walnuts are a great addition. It’s hard to go wrong with cheese, so I added some parmesan as well; I also think chèvre would be a welcome addition and I’ll be trying that next time. If you feel the need to add a meat, a sprinkle of crumbled bacon or pancetta would complement everything nicely. I’m also excited to play with some different flavor profiles in the coming months, and I’ll be sure to share them all as I have time.

Next time you need a comfort food with maybe fewer calories, give this pasta a shot – be sure to let me know what you think!

Sweet Potato Alfredo

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

1 lb (ish) dried pasta

2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp flour

1 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups sweet potato puree1
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 Tbsp dried sage or rosemary
salt and pepper, to taste

optional toppings
toasted walnuts or pecans
parmesan or goat cheese
crumbled bacon or pancetta

Directions

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions; reserve 1  1/2 cups of water, drain, and set aside.
  2. In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. For added flavor, continue to heat until it begins to brown.
  3. Vigorously whisk in flour until smooth, about 30 seconds.
  4. Add milk and continue to whisk until mixture bubbles and thickens; this will take a few minutes.
  5. Stir in sweet potato, and 1/2 cup of reserved pasta water. Optionally, use an immersion blender to get the sauce nice and smooth. If sauce is too thick, add water about two tablespoons at a time until desired consistency is reached (I usually add about 1 cup total).
  6. Add sage or rosemary, salt and pepper to taste, then let simmer for a couple of minutes to allow the flavors to blend.
  7. When sauce is ready, stir into pasta and continue to simmer until everything is well combined and heated through.
  8. Serve immediately, optionally topped with nuts, cheese, and/or protein of choice.
  9. Pro tip: Reheats well if you add a little extra water to the bowl before microwaving.

Notes

You can puree ahead of time in a blender or food processor, or just mash it well and then use an immersion blender while making the sauce to smooth it out.