Winter is the season of comfort food. I say a silent hallelujah when the snow starts falling—ready to pull out my casserole dish and hunker down with favorite recipes. There are foods I crave during the coldest days: baked pastas covered in a gooey layer of cheese, slow-simmered soups laden with cream, and meaty stews redolent with spices and red wine.
But as much as these wintry dishes soothe and warm me, I also want to be nourished. Around this time of year, there’s a lot of chatter about refreshing and rebooting and stripping down our cooking. After the excesses of the holidays, we seem to want a break.
Luckily, there is an abundance of good territory between the two extremes: comforting food that fills you up but doesn’t weigh you down.
I’ve been keeping an eye out for creative and interesting uses of vegetables, sifting through the onslaught of New Year resolution-minded recipes to find little sparks of inspiration I could tailor to favorite winter meals.
Today’s recipe is a perfect marriage of all these elements, and a winning example of adding good things to your cooking instead of subtracting. You make a classic quiche filling—to which I’ve added whole-grain mustard, Gruyere, and mixed greens—and instead of pouring it into a basic pie crust, you use sweet potatoes.
Vegetables stepping in for a carb-y base isn't new (cauliflower pizza crust or zucchini noodles or potato avocado toasts are all over the place), so I took inspiration from this, thinking that mashing the sweet potato and mixing it with "riced" cauliflower and a bit of egg as binder would be the way to go. But making a crust with that method was too soft for my liking; I prefer simply slicing the sweet potatoes. Not only is the texture more crust-like, but it's an easier preparation which keeps this in simple weeknight dinner territory.
This technique yields both a good-looking and good-tasting quiche. I was skeptical of how the potatoes would hold up as a crust, but they do well. The key is to slice the potatoes thinly and uniformly, then to layer them with enough overlapping so your filling doesn’t leak. Bear in mind, it might leak because that’s life—but if it does, it will be minimal and the quiche will still be sliceable. (It’s happened to me a few times, and it wasn’t a noticeable issue, just slightly messier than when the filling stayed in place.)
The sweet potato softens nicely on the bottom, but the edges up top get crispy and golden, like potato chips, as it bakes. I loved the final effect and how the flavor of the sweet potato adds an earthiness to the dish.
Give it a shot, and if you like the technique, try using thinly sliced beets in addition to—or in place of—the sweet potatoes for a multicolored effect with a slightly sweeter flavor. I, for one, will be curled up under a blanket watching the snow fall and happily savoring a lighter taste of winter.
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