Last day of sanity.

Tomorrow I return to school. Blech. Winter break is such a tease. Today was one of those, "I know I'm not going anywhere so why bother changing into clothes that aren't pj's and putting mousse in my hair" days. I watched Guilt Trip (I loooove Barbara. And Seth Rogen for that matter) and some shitty indie film. I cooked. I kicked around the New Year's balloons that are still inflated (and looking like they won't deflate any time soon).

Dinner tonight was relatively simple. A problem with cooking the way I do, though, is that relatively simple means that it wasn't really simple and I spent a lot of time chopping but I just didn't get flustered or frustrated. If I believed in hashtags, this would be filed under "vegetarian problems" but I think hashtags are slowly destroying our world.

Part One: Swiss Chard, Sweet Potato, and Quinoa Gratin

I just knew that this would be too big for a 2-quart dish. But nonetheless, I buttered my 2-quart baking pan and ended up with a whole lotta quinoa and swiss chard mix.

The first thing I did was roast the sweet potatoes. You're really supposed to roast them whole, but this one was GIANT and I knew it would take forever. I cut it in half (so, so difficult), and drizzled olive oil over the bottoms. The other sweet potatoes I roasted whole. They burned slightly, but I just scraped that part off.

These are mashed when cool enough to handle.

Swiss chard is absolutely gorgeous - and the stems are celery-like. The next step was to chop the stems and leaves, separately.

Greens may be my favorite thing on this planet. But the chopping, endless chopping!

Stems get sauteed first, then the greens and garlic. Don't be afraid of the garlic - it adds a lot of flavor. This dish has great potential for blandness.

Next, I cooked the quinoa. If you've had quinoa before, and didn't love it, try rinsing it thoroughly before cooking. It removes saponin (more at the link, including cooking instructions). I didn't like quinoa until I learned this trick.

The quinoa is combined with the chard.

This should go into a medium-to-large baking dish. As I said before, the 2-quart doesn't cut it. I used 1 cup (not 2) of breadcrumbs on top. I had some seasoned panko, so I used that. I typically like to make my own breadcrumbs using wheat bread and a food processor, but the panko was a nice touch. The seasoning added a good amount of flavor. If you use a different type of breadcrumb, I'd recommend liberal seasoning.

The recipe also recommends to alternate globs of sweet potato and quinoa-chard mix - and I don't know why. The breadcrumbs cover up any presentation, so I'd probably layer it next time, or maybe just stir it all together.

This bakes at 350 for 30 minutes.

This was amazing. I love tahini, and the sauce was the perfect complement. First I sauteed the broccoli and cauliflower according to the recipe directions. I actually used romanesco cauliflower - which looks like a dinosaur and I far prefer to standard cauliflower. It's not as messy, and tastes less bland. 

Then, I roasted it in the oven with the gratin - they had the same cooking temperatures and I had just enough time left on the gratin for the brocc/cauliflower. It worked out perfectly. 

I wish I had the pomegranate seeds, as called for. Pomegranates are too damn expensive. The tahini sauce separated, unbeknownst to me, but it worked out fine. 

Another vegan night! (I'm pretty sure my panko is vegan...) Oh wait - I did use butter on the baking dish. It could have easily been oil. ;)

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