Coming back from vacation is such a strange adjustment. I always think it won’t be, but then every time, like clockwork, it is. You’re suddenly thrust from a lackadaisical life of leisure back into this same old same old world of normalcy. Part of me loves it – getting back into a routine, sleeping in my own cozy bed, making a good, strong cup of coffee in the morning and cooking in my kitchen. But the other part of me struggles to find an ounce of motivation to do ANYTHING at all… Like answering all these emails and tackling this ginormous pile of laundry thats currently staring me in the face.
Can you hear that? Someone is playing the saddest song on the world’s tiniest violin. I’m not looking for sympathy as much as I’m just using this space as a place to let out my frustrations (okay, complain). Because Chile was AWESOME. And coming home has been a bit depressing. Leaving a wine soaked, practically internet-free summertime utopia only to come back to a cold, rainy, desolate winter where all anyone wants to talk about is the tumultuous political climate is a shock to the system, to say the least. But food and cooking and familiarity make it feasible, and I look forward to taking the weekend to ease back into this very real (north) American life.
My whole clean eating mission went out the window as soon as we left for vacation, but I was actually pretty good considering it was, well, vacation. I indulged in A LOT of wine and pisco sours, but meals were pretty straightforward with protein and vegetables, plus a hefty dose of papas fritas, and I mostly stayed away from sweets because I found them all to be really cloying. But I have to say, I’m looking forward to jumping back into this whole healthy living thing, only this time, it will be less of a strict cleanse and more of an overall lifestyle approach. An 80-20 sort of thing. Some wine. A few cookies. The occasional pasta. But mostly vegetables. A touch of meat and cheese. And definitely coffee. Mmm. Coffee.
I recently busted out my spiralizer again since putting it away last fall after my frustrating go-around with a butternut squash. I thought this time, “lets use sweet potatoes!” thinking they would somehow work better in the machine. They didn’t. Maybe it’s just my machine, but I’m kind of over it. I’ll probably try it again with zucchini or maybe cucumbers in the future, but, meh. I’m thisclose to tossing it out for good because it’s not exactly the smallest appliance to store. And thus far, it’s been nothing but a disappointment.
This recipe, however, was not. It’s similar to the butternut squash pasta I made back in November, only sans the actual pasta, breadcrumbs and burrata. So, needless to say, it’s not nearly as indulgent, but manages to curb the craving just the same. The starchiness of the sweet potatoes is super satisfying, and when paired with earthy rosemary, nutty brown butter, and crunchy hazelnuts, it really leaves nothing to be desired. Except maybe a hit of grated parmesan (the good stuff) at the end to add salty complexity and take it over the top. Definitely go ahead and do that. I don’t know what I was thinking.
Also, after further consideration of this recipe, I think that roasting the sweet potatoes would fare better than sautéing as I do in the video. Tossing them around resulted in a lot of breakage and caused them to cook unevenly, so when I ate them, there were a few lingering pieces of raw sweet potato, which was definitely not a good thing (unlike al dente pasta). I think roasting them at a high temp – say 450? – with just a teensie bit of olive oil+s+p until they’re tender and even a little browned in parts (~15 minutes?), then tossing them with the accouterments at the end, would result in an even better dish.
But really, it’s your call. With sweet potatoes – in noodle form or not – brown butter, herbs, and nuts (and cheese!), you really can’t go wrong. Is it pasta? No. Is it tasty. Hell yeah.
- 2 large sweet potatoes (about 2 lbs), peeled
- 4 tablespoons salted butter
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
- water, as needed
- Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
- 1/4 cup chopped toasted hazelnuts
- grated parmesan cheese (grana or reggiano), optional (not really)
- (for alternative method: 2 teaspoons olive oil)
- Use a vegetable spiralizer to turn the sweet potatoes into noodles. Alternatively, use the julienne attachment on a mandoline to slice the sweet potatoes into strips, or use a knife to just hack them into thin bits.
- Add butter to a large saute pan over medium heat. Swirl it around until it melts, sizzles and eventually turns brown and smells nutty. Add the rosemary sprigs and saute for about 30 seconds, or until they start to crisp. Add the sweet potatoes along with a splash of water (about 1 tablespoon) and toss around until they start to soften, about 5-10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and continue cooking until they're totally tender, but not mushy.
- Transfer to a plate, top with the hazelnuts and parmesan, then serve immediately.
- Alternative method: Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper, then add the sweet potatoes and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread out into an even layer, then bake for about 15 minutes until they're tender and slightly browned. Brown the butter and rosemary in a saute pan just like in the directions above, then toss in the cooked sweet potatoes, plate, top with hazelnuts, parmesan, and serve.