Wednesday, January 4, 2012

recipe: ham, sweet potato + black bean casserole...

It's still winter right?? It's hard to tell over here in sunny Southern California...where over Christmas and New Year's it was like 70..or was it 80?? Something crazy. I even wore a tank top the other day! But yeah, I'm thinking it's still winter..somewhere.

At night it gets a tad colder...we actually had some crazy marine layer/fog going on for about a week..I mean it was CRAZY! Came out of nowhere and fast! I joked that it might be the fog that turns people inside-out. Wasn't that on a Simpson's episode once? Good thing I was wrong.

So it was during one of those warmer-days-turned-colder-nights that I decided to make a dinner dish my husband and I just adore. We're pretty big fans of the "one pot" wonders (although we also love the "use every pan in our kitchen" meals too) and I'm always trying to find new ways to create simple, yummy, and relatively "good for you" meals that we can share together.

A few months back my dear friend was extremely pregnant. I mean, about to pop any day pregnant. One of the gifts I gave her for her baby shower was a week's worth of dinners that they could easily freeze and just re-heat as needed after baby was born.

I found this recipe on my beloved Martha's site and could NOT resist. It sounded so hearty and just plain ol' good. I made sure to make A LOT so that my husband and I could have some dinners as well as my friends.  We ALL loved it so much! Thing wasn't the best-for-you that it could have been. Sure it was absolutely delicious and filling..sure it "hit the spot"...But when your everyday meal at home needs to be as good for you as you possibly can make, this wasn't making the cut. White bread? Eeeeep. Sausage? Yikes. And NO veggies! Ahhhhhh!

So I decided to re-do it a bit :) Enjoy my version of this absolutely delicious, EASY, and still "hits the spot" one pot wonder.

Ham, Sweet Potato + Black Bean Casserole
Serves 4

  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons almond meal
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 cups medium diced ham 
  • 3 cups medium diced organic sweet potato
  • 1 large medium diced organic onion
  • 4 cloves minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 cups good chicken stock (or veggie stock, or water)..I recommend making your own
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 (15oz) can drained organic black beans
  • salt and freshly cracked black pepper as needed
  • 2 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 350*F. In a large heavy bottom dutch oven, saute garlic and onions in 1 tablespoon of your olive oil. Cook over medium-low to medium heat until onions are translucent. 
  2. Add diced ham and cook until ham has golden brown edges- about 5-10 minutes.
  3. Next add your tomato paste and cook 1-2 minutes stirring constantly. You're looking to cook out some of the "raw" flavor, but not burn the paste. 
  4. Add your stock, thyme, and oregano. Stir gently and bring to light simmer. Next add your sweet potato and black beans. Stir until combined.
  5. Taste. Check for salt- you might have to add a little, but remember- the ham is salty as well. Adjust seasoning as needed. Add freshly cracked black pepper as well.
  6. Bring back to a gently simmer and cook uncovered on low for about 10 minutes. It will thicken slightly during this time.
  7. Turn off heat, stir in 1 cup of your almond meal, and flatten top surface of your casserole.
  8. In a little bowl, mix together remaining 2 tablespoons almond meal with 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan. Sprinkle this mixture evenly over top of casserole. Drizzle last tablespoon of olive oil over top.
  9. Bake uncovered until golden brown- 25-30 minutes. Will be thick and lovely!

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