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We're celebrating Meatless Mondays with balanced, delicious meal plans. We hope you'll join us -- whether you're vegetarian all the time or just here and there.
Today: Discover the magic of weeknight shortcuts.
Sometimes you have time to soak dried beans and let them simmer until they're plump and flavorful. Sometimes you have time to get out your heaviest pot and a gallon of oil and deep fry crispy fries. And sometimes it's Monday night and you don't have time for any of that.
When you need a comforting, soul-warming meal in under an hour and you don't want to sacrifice flavor, that's when you have our permission to cheat. Replace dried white beans with canned ones and cut the cooking time in half. Bake your fries with olive oil and tons of spices and save yourself a greasy mess. You'll end up with a seasonal, filling, vegetarian (or vegan!) meal, no hassle necessary.
Go ahead and use shortcuts -- it is Monday, after all.
Serves 4, with soup for tomorrow
2 large sweet potatoes
2 cans of white beans
6 cups vegetable stock or water
2 small sprigs rosemary
2 sprigs thyme
3 large sage leaves
26 ounces chopped tomatoes, with their juices
Grated Parmesan (leave off to keep the menu vegan)
You probably have olive oil, salt, ground cumin, chile powder, paprika, black pepper, cayenne, and garlic in your kitchen. If not, you’ll be needing those, too.
1. Preheat the oven to 425° F. Cut the sweet potatoes into large matchsticks. Toss with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, then make things interesting: add 2 teaspoons of salt; 1 teaspoon each of ground cumin, chile powder, paprika, and pepper; and 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne.
2. Arrange the potatoes on a baking sheet in a single layer and bake for 12 to 15 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, rinse the beans and add them to a pot with the vegetable stock or water, the herbs, 2 peeled and crushed garlic cloves, and a couple pinches of salt. Bring to a boil over low heat, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes.
4. Check on your fries. When the undersides are browned, flip them with a spatula and bake for 10 more minutes.
5. Now add the tomatoes to the soup and simmer gently, without stirring, until the fries are finished. Season the soup with salt and pepper, remove the herbs, and stir in olive oil and grated Parmesan right before serving. Take the fries out of the oven and eat everything while it’s hot.
Photos by James Ransom