Friday, October 28, 2011

an actually achievable (and suprisingly savory) 30-minute meal.

i had just gotten out of the shower after working out and was looking through foodgawker and pinterest for something to make for dinner last night when my roommate calls out from the other room.

"you almost ready to go get a movie?"

"do you mind if i make some dinner first? i'll do it fast, like half hour?"

"oh yeah that's fine."

well great, now my options are canned soup or a sandwich... bummer.

but i really wanted sweet potato something or other. so i don't know whether it was the pity i felt for that sweet potato that had been forgotten in the bottom of the vegetable drawer far too many times this week or if it was the determination i had in making something half-way decent in the half hour i gave myelf, but either way... this was just what i was looking for.

ever since high school i had watched rachael ray's 30 minute meals and thought "well obviously you can make this in 30 minutes. all the ingredients you need are pushed to the front of your cabinets and all the equipemt you need is not only not sitting in the sink waiting to be washed, but is laid out for you. if someone went through my kitchen and did all that for me, i could do that in 30 minutes too."

but friends, jesus walked on water, the titanic sank, and a 30 minute meal is achievable.

(just to be clear, this dish is no where near jesus walking on water on the unofficial unbelievably-holy-cow scale, but i'm just saying... it's possible.)

and ohmygoodness, it is so creamy and delicious and healthy, it blew my mind.

i started boiling the water for pasta and threw the cute little bow ties in when it was ready. i then threw my sweet potato in the microwave because there was really no other way i could've gotten it all the way cooked in the small window of time i had.

(i make it sound like the world would've collapsed and hell would've broken loose if we had left to get this movie in 45 minutes instead of the 30 minutes i had said. but really i was just challenging myself i guess.)

while that's cooking, i started sauteing some onions and mushrooms with a little bit of olive oil until they were nice and soft. once they looked beautiful, i added in a tablespoon of butter.

is there anything better than butter melting into some soft veggies?
i'll answer that. nope.

when the sweet potato came out of the microwave, i peeled off the skin and mashed the flesh with a potato masher.

once the sweet potato was mashed, my butter was melted and making those mushrooms savory and happy and begging for a roux. i threw in some chicken base and then the flour, and tossed it to combine.

i tossed in the milk and whisked it to get rid of the flour lumps so it would thicken faster. i turned the heat up a little so it would come to a boil faster. but before it started to simmer, i threw in the mashed sweet potato.

if you know a thing or two about rouxs and you already looked at the recipe, perhaps you caught my problem. i had a total of 3 tbsp of fat and only half that amount of flour. however, i figured the starchiness of the sweet potato would help the sauce thicken up more.

knowing me, i would find the exception to the rule.

anyways, after the sweet potato was incorporated and the sauce started to thicken, i added in a decent sized pinch of cayenne and a healthy amount of cinnamon.

but after i stirred those in and tasted it, i thought for sure i ruined it. too much cinnamon! a perfectly good sweet potato... wasted! gahh!

but wait, i told myself. just.... wait. stir it, keep it simmering, just let it seep into the sweet potato-y goodness that is forming on your stove.

because what seemed like an over-seasoning turned into the slightly sweet, mostly savory, creamiest pasta sauce i have ever created. seriously.

i tossed in the bow tie pasta and gave it a stir. and i put it on a plate. and i sprinkled it with a little cheese. and i grabbed my fork and took a bite.

and then i grabbed two more forks because i could not keep this sweet potato sensation to myself. i made one roommate stop playing fifa to try it and i made the other roommate stop doing her homework to try it.

let's just say a couple minutes later, they were both wandering into the kitchen, piercing the their forks into the creamy little bow ties still left in the pan asking what was in it and how did i do it and "how do you just come up stuff like this?"

i don't really have an exact answer for that but let me warn you, this stuff is addicting.

as in two helpings for dinner last night and leftovers for lunch today.

and can i just add that the orange-ness of the sweet potato makes this sauce especially halloween-friendly? i'm really not a big halloween person, but if you're looking for a good "orange" recipe for this weekend, this one is sure to warm you up.

so here it is. i was advised that i should start putting recipes up here and at first i was hesitant. i mean, most of the stuff i make, isn't following a recipe. it's adding stuff in until it works. but when i look at blogs, i definitely look at the recipes for guidance or ideas, or sometimes exact measurements. so here it is. i wrote this up as i was mowing down helping #2 so it was still fresh in my memory :)

Creamy Sweet Potato Farfalle

2 T. olive oil
½ red onion, chopped
4large button mushrooms, sliced
1 T. butter
1 ½ T. flour
1 large sweet potato
2 cups milk
1 T. chicken base (or one cup milk, 1 cup chicken stock)
1/8 tsp. cayenne
½ tsp. cinnamon
½ lb. bow tie pasta
½ cup shredded swiss cheese
Poke holes in the sweet potato with a fork and microwave on high for 8-9 minutes or until soft. Once it’s soft, put the flesh into a bowl and mash. (Or if you have more time, feel free to bake. It'll take about 45-60 minutes on 350, if that sounds better to you.)
Sauté onion on medium heat until it is transparent and starting to brown. Add mushrooms and sauté until soft. Add salt and pepper, chicken base and the 1 tbsp. of butter. Once the butter is melted, add in the flour. Then, pour in the milk and whisk so the flour gets evenly incorporated in the sauce. Turn the heat to medium high in order to get the sauce to bubble. Once the liquid is warm (but not quite bubbling), add in the mashed sweet potato and whisk to get rid of all the lumps. Season with cayenne and cinnamon and let simmer for 5 minutes. Drain the pasta into the sauce. Toss to coat the pasta and serve. Sprinkle with swiss and enjoy.

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