Sweet Potato Patties with Black Beans and Greens

Every now and again I find myself in a food rut. After all the holiday hullaballoo (which officially ended with twin birthday number 7 last week), it seemed that I had forgotten how to cook all but a few of our standard and semi-standard recipes.  Once I cycled through those a couple of times, I confess even I was having trouble finding my enthusiasm for our usual healthier fare.

Thusly uninspired, I applied my tried and true tactic for waking some enthusiasm for healthier eating.  I went to the library and found my way into the aisle with healthier cookbooks, looked for a couple that I knew of and found a couple of new titles to peruse.

One of the books I picked up this time was The Cleaner Plate Club: Raising Healthy Eaters One Meal at a Time by Beth Bader and Ali Benjamin. I should say, before explaining how this led to dinner, that this is a lovely book for a home cook who’s trying to get out of the habit of relying on processed food and who needs some sage advice on how to make that shift, what kinds of foods to purchase, and what to do with those ingredients.  It also includes a section that describes the way that children, in particular, eat and how to more comfortably address dietary change with kids. A great book, that also includes lots of yummy recipes, as well as a slew of non-recipe suggestions, one of which led me to create this fabulous dinner.

IMG_0116 The authors suggested baking sweet potatoes and then topping them with black beans.  I had cooked sweet potatoes on hand (for baking purposes)… and so, I admittedly made it more complicated, but with surprisingly fabulous results.

Sweet Potato Patties with Black Beans and Greens (DF, GF)

The Black Beans

  • olive oil for the panIMG_0100
  • 1/2 small onion, chopped fine
  • 2 1/2 c cooked black beans or 2 cans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 c water
  • 1 t Bragg’s or soy sauce
  • 1 t dried oregano
  • dash garlic powder

In a small pot, warm olive oil on low-medium heat.  Add onions and cook for a few minutes, stirring periodically.  When onions are translucent, add the other ingredients and simmer over low heat while you prepare the rest of the meal.  Stir occasionally to prevent sticking.  Add water if necessary to get the consistency you prefer.

The Patties

  • 2.5 cups sweet potato (cooked until VERY soft)IMG_0097
  • 1 c cooked grain (I used quinoa)
  • 1.5 c chickpea flour
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 c rolled oats
  • 1 t orange zest
  • 1/2 t paprika
  • 1/4 t garlic powder
  • olive oil for the pan

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl.  Warm oil in the pan at slightly less than medium heat.  Preheat the oven to 225. Use a mixing or soup spoon to spoon large dollops (sorry for the technical term) into the pan.  Allow to cook for about 5 minutes per side, or until brown.  Flip and brown the other side.  Transfer to a baking dish and allow to rest in oven while cooking the rest of the patties.

The Greens

  • olive oil for the panIMG_0116
  • about 8 ounces of your preferred dark green leafy
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • toasted nuts (opt)

Warm the olive oil on low-medium.  Add minced garlic and cook until fragrant (about 30 seconds).  Add greens and cook until wilted, stirring to ensure all greens make contact with the hot part of the pan. Remove from heat when they are just starting to look ready.  Add nuts (we used walnuts).

When it was all said and done, we served the beans over the patties, added a dollop of Annie’s cashew cream, a spoon of our favorite salsa, and added the greens to the plate.  The dish tasted best when all the elements were on the fork together, regardless of what Ms. Picky Pants (who would dearly love to have a plate with sections) says.  Delish.

IMG_0108 IMG_0112 IMG_0110

Sneaking in the Greens

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Most people don’t consider me very sneaky, but when it comes to getting vegetables into my kid… I’ll do just about anything.  I have found that the good ol’ American grilled cheese sandwich is rife with opportunity for treachery (mwoo hoo hahaha)!  Read on, if you dare….

One can spread a layer of a number of both pureed or simply sauteed vegetables into a grilled cheese sandwich.  My first foray into the covert vegetable operation was to spread a layer of pureed broccoli on the bread before placing the layer of cheese.  I began pureeing broccoli (along with lots of other things) to make baby food.
1) Puree in the blender or VitaMix with enough water to let the blades turn
2) Scoop out and place in ice cube trays
3) Cover trays with wax paper to aid stacking and avoid frost
4) Pop out and store in container in freezer when solid
Then you can defrost as much as you need per the size of your bread and the breadth of your child’s tolerance or gullibility.  So broccoli, cauliflower or spinach seemed to work best in our house for the kids.  As my now 11 year old aged and realized that it was indeed possible to have a grilled cheese sandwich WITHOUT anything green in it, we had to negotiate a bit…. “Do you want your broccoli in the sandwich or on the side?” worked very well for a while.  And of course my husband and I ate and enjoyed the broccoli/cheese sandwiches as well.

However, there is something better than broccoli for the grown-ups and thus the lovely picture above… mustard greens sauteed in a little oil and garlic make a stupendous extra layer in a grilled cheese sandwich.  Stir some up for dinner and make a little extra.  Doesn’t take long – just a clove of garlic and a little olive oil in a pan, tear the leaves smaller and cook until they are quite wilted.  Stick the leftovers in the frig.  You don’t have to heat the greens up – they’ll heat as the cheese melts around and into the nooks and crannies.  Delicious!  You can also use swiss chard or collards or kale.  And of course, for the grown-ups you can vary the cheese as well.

You do get some funny looks when your child asks their friend who is staying for lunch, “Do you want your grilled cheese with or without broccoli?” but no funny look equals the pleasure of sneaking vegetables onto the plate and into the mouth!
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In this case the words are ‘sandwiched’ between the greens.  Yuk yuk yuk…. just what a lot of kids say when it comes to vegetables.