By MARK BITTMAN
2 tablespoons olive oil or butter
1/2 onion, sliced (optional)
Salt and ground black pepper
4 to 6 cups of any chopped or sliced raw or barely cooked vegetables
1/4 cup fresh basil or parsley leaves, or 1 teaspoon chopped fresh tarragon or mint leaves, or any other herb
2 or 3 eggs
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional).
1. Put olive oil or butter in a skillet (preferably nonstick or well-seasoned cast iron) and turn heat to medium. When fat is hot, add onion, if using, and cook, sprinkling with salt and pepper, until it is soft, 3 to 5 minutes. Add vegetables, raise heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until they soften, from a couple of minutes for greens to 15 minutes for sliced potatoes. Adjust heat so vegetables brown a little without scorching. (With precooked vegetables, just add them to onions and stir before proceeding.)
2. When vegetables are nearly done, turn heat to low and add herb. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender.
3. Meanwhile, beat eggs with some salt and pepper, along with cheese if you are using it. Pour over vegetables, distributing them evenly. Cook, undisturbed, until eggs are barely set, 10 minutes or so; run pan under broiler for a minute or 2 if top does not set. Cut into wedges and serve hot, warm or at room temperature.
Yield: 2 or 4 servings.
Arepas With Cheese and Corn
1 cup yellow cornmeal, finely ground
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup grated Cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons butter, more for serving, optional
1/2 cup fresh sweet corn kernels, or frozen kernels, thawed
1/4 cup chopped scallion
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 small serrano or jalapeño chili, seeded and minced, optional
3 tablespoons corn, canola, grapeseed or other neutral oil
Cooked black beans or vegetables or sour cream for stuffing, optional.
1. Put cornmeal in a large bowl with salt and cheese. Put milk in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until steam rises, then add butter and stir until melted. Remove from heat and stir into cornmeal mixture until a thick batter is formed. Fold in the corn kernels, scallion, cilantro and chili if using.
2. Let batter rest until it thickens into a soft dough, about 15 minutes. Gently form 3- to 4-inch balls from mixture and flatten with palm of your hand to a 1/2-inch-thick disk. (You can cover and refrigerate disks for a few hours if you like.)
3. Heat oil in a large skillet and cook arepas, working in batches, until golden brown, about 5 minutes, then flip and cook for another 3 minutes on other side. When all arepas are cooked and cool enough to handle, carefully slice them through the middle. If desired, serve with butter or stuff with beans, vegetables or sour cream.
Yield: 8 to 12 arepas.
Roasted Sweet Potato Salad With Black Beans and Chili Dressing
4 medium sweet potatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds), peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
1 large onion, preferably red, chopped
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 to 2 tablespoons minced fresh hot chili, like jalapeño
1 clove garlic, peeled
Juice of 2 limes
2 cups cooked black beans, drained (canned are fine)
1 red or yellow bell pepper, seeded and finely diced
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro.
1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Put sweet potatoes and onions on a large baking sheet, drizzle with 2 tablespoons oil, toss to coat and spread out in a single layer. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast, turning occasionally, until potatoes begin to brown on corners and are just tender inside, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from oven; keep on pan until ready to mix with dressing.
2. Put chilies in a blender or mini food processor along with garlic, lime juice, remaining olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Process until blended.
3. Put warm vegetables in a large bowl with beans and bell pepper; toss with dressing and cilantro. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Serve warm or at room temperature, or refrigerate for up to a day.
Yield: 4 servings.
Nikki's Sweet Potato Recipe
If you'd like to prepare part of this recipe in advance you can certainly bake the sweet potatoes a day or two in advance and save the mashed sweet potatoes in the refrigerator until you are ready to move forward with the remaining steps. Also, you can make these vegan by using olive oil and not butter.
2 1/2 pounds orange-fleshed sweet potatoes 1/3 cup coconut milk 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated 1 tablespoon maple syrup 1/2 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt 1/3 cup raw, unsweetened grated coconut 2 tablespoons olive oil or melted butter 1/3 cup toasted macadamia nuts, chopped
Preheat your oven to 350F degrees, a rack in the upper third. Butter or oil 6 ramekins or a single medium-sized casserole dish.
Wrap each sweet potato in foil, pierce numerous times with the tines of a fork and place in the oven for somewhere between an hour and an hour and a half, until each is baked through. Times vary greatly depending on the size of your sweet potatoes - in the end you should be able to cut through the center flesh as if it were soft butter. Remove the potatoes from the oven, let them cool for a few minutes, and cut each sweet potato in half. Scrape the flesh into a medium mixing bowl. You should have about three cups of sweet potatoes. In a large bowl mash the sweet potatoes with the coconut milk. If my sweet potatoes are on the fibrous side, l take a hand blender to them for a minute or so (alternately you could use a food processor). Stir in the ginger, maple syrup and salt. Let it sit for a few minutes, stir again and taste - adjust the seasoning if you need to - this is your chance to get the right amount of salt and ginger in the sweet potatoes before they go in the oven.
Spoon the sweet potato mixture into individual baking dishes (or single larger baking dish), sprinkle with coconut, drizzle with olive oil and bake uncovered until warm and the coconut golden roughly 30 - 40 minutes. Remove and sprinkle with the toasted macadamia nuts.
Serves about 6.