As the month comes to a close, we want to remind you that February is/was national sweet potato month! It's so perfect because honestly what could be better than a steaming hot, colorful, starchy and oh so delicious spud on a dark winter night? If you haven't had a sweet potato in the last month or don't sound as excited about them as we do right now this recipe might just change your mind. Created with a delicate and unique mix of flavors (and colors!) this meal may be just the inspiration you need to help you make it to spring.
Not to overshadow this fabulous spud but we want to teach you a little about all the healthy fats you'll get from this meal before delving into the recipe. First, the beautiful pistachio nuts contain a healthy ratio of ~2:1 monounsaturated to polyunsaturated fats and the avocado has an even higher percentage of monounsaturated with a ratio of ~7:1. This is good because monounsaturated fats are considered anti-inflammatory and have been shown to reduce LDL "bad cholesterol" and triglycerides (fat in the blood) while increasing HDL "good cholesterol". Next, on to the olive oil which already has a great reputation as a healthy fat, but why? One of our favorite things about olive oil is that, unlike many other oils, it requires minimal processing to extract the oil from the olives, specifically from extra-virgin (first pressed) batches. And typically in the food industry, the less processing the better. One of the best ways to use olive oil is in cold recipes (such as pesto) because it is considered a delicate oil and can degrade under high heat conditions. But that's not all for this meal; there is a beneficial fat found in goat cheese known as medium chain triglyceride or MCT. MCT is unique in the way of it's absorption in the body because it's absorbed directly into the blood stream providing on the spot energy. This is very unlike other fats which go through a long digestion process before they can be used for energy and are actually more likely to be stored as fat cells. So let's celebrate sweet potato month and load a spud full with all these wonderful fats, shall we?
The Overloaded Spud
PREP TIME: 30 mins
TOTAL TIME: 1 hour 10 mins (including baking)
4 medium sweet potatoes
1 cup dried beluga lentils
2 ounces goat cheese
1 avocado, split into fourths and cubed
2 cups packed fresh basil
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup raw pistachios, shelled
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Make sure to poke a few holes (6-8) in each sweet potato to allow steam to release while cooking. Placed washed and scrubbed sweet potatoes on a parchment lined baking sheet and cook for 60 minutes or until soft to the touch.
While the spuds are baking, begin the beluga lentils and prepare pesto. Rinse lentils until running water until water runs clear. Combine 1 cup rinsed lentils with 4 cups water in a deep pan over medium to high heat. Bring lentils to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer, cover with a lid, and cook for 30 minutes. Once lentils are fully cooked, drain remaining water and set lentils aside.
To prepare pesto, first toast pistachios on a baking sheet in the 350 degree oven for 3-5 minutes until lightly browned and fragrant, watch closely to avoid burning. Allow pistachios to cool for several minutes then combine with basil and garlic in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Add 1/2 cup olive oil slowly while food processor is running on low until fully incorporated and smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
Once the spuds are done and cooled slightly, make a cut down the center to create a "pocket" and add to each ~1/2 cup cooked lentils, 1/4 avocado, and 1/2 oz goat cheese. Top with 1-2 Tbsp pistachio pesto and crumbled whole pistachios if desired.
This perfectly simple, overloaded spud is just as good as your traditional "comfort food". It's beautiful on the eyes, exciting on the taste buds and warming on the stomach. This high (but healthy!) fat meal will nourish your body and keep you comfy as we all patiently wait for spring.
So go on and get your spud on,
Jess & Cecelia
Jess and Cecelia welcome you to our kitchen. We are fun-loving and passionate foodies working to make the world a healthier, happier place one plant based recipe at a time.