easy weeknight meal: sweet potatoes with cheesy pistachio dust (vegan, gluten free)

 

As a food blogger, it can be tempting for me to post oodles of complicated, fancy recipes that have a big wow factor. Because those are the things that get a lot of splash and attention.

But, that’s not reality.

As a mom of four and business owner two times over, I don’t have time most days for complicated and fancy. I’m guessing you don’t either.

Which is why I’m sharing more of a meal idea than a “recipe” with you today. It’s an easy weeknight meal that is uncomplicated, but tasty. Simple, but satisfying. Light on ingredients but packed with the nutrients your body needs to fuel itself for all the things you do.

That’s the beauty of an easy weeknight meal, isn’t it?

First we start with a sweet potato. Packed with vitamins, fiber, potassium, sweet potatoes are one of my favorite comfort foods. I like to prepare them either by baking them whole or cutting them in half and placing cut side down on a baking sheet to get a be-you-ti-ful carmelization, like you see with the sweet potatoes in the picture above.

Next comes a side of salad. Here’s where you can find the dressing and basic to a chop salad that frequently makes an appearance on our table. It’s one the kids like, especially since I let them customize their toppings. Just ignore the picture…clearly, I’ve been working on my photography skills.

To amp up the protein and keep this meal from being ho-hum, I whipped up and added some cheesy pistachio dust (dairy free, of course) to both the potato and the salad. You’ll find the recipe for that below.

 

 

If you’re pressed for time during the week, you can prep much of this meal ahead of time over the weekend by pre-baking the sweet potatoes and mixing up the pistachio dust and salad dressing. I don’t recommend prepping the veggies ahead (unless you’re having them the next day) since they start to lose some of their nutrients after being cut. Instead, chop them up while you’re warming the sweet potatoes (I always do this in the oven, as I ixnayed the microwave for food years ago).

So there you have it! An easy weeknight meal that can be partially prepped ahead of time or simple enough to come together even in a pinch.

 

vegan nut Parmesan

A trio of nut Parmesans to get your cheese fix even without the dairy.

Course: Topping
Author: Andrea Anderson
Ingredients
Pecan Parmesan
  • 1 c. pecans, toasted
  • 4 tsp. nutritional yeast
  • 3 tsp. avocado or olive oil
  • ¼ tsp salt
Cashew Parmesan
  • 1 cup cashews
  • 8 tsp nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp avocado or olive oil
Pistachio Parmesan
  • 1 c shelled pistachios
  • 9 tsp nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp avocado or olive oil
Instructions
  1. For each Parmesan (separately)...add the ingredients to a food processor or blender and pulse or mix until the nuts are finely chopped. Do not over mix or the nuts will begin to release their oils and stick together.

Store in an airtight jar in the fridge for up to two weeks.

     

     

    (contains affiliate links which help fund this blog at no cost to you 🙂 )

    • Click here for my favorite food processor for the cheesy pistachio dust

    apple cabbage slaw with apple cinnamon dressing (vegan, raw, paleo, gluten free, no added sugar)

    In the apple vs. pumpkin debate, I fall in with the apple crowd.

    What about you?

    It’s been a great year for apples here in Northeast Ohio…especially the organic red apples we’ve been enjoying from my parent’s neighbors. Which got me brainstorming ideas for a fresh fall apple-based salad…

    Voila! Apple cabbage slaw with apple cinnamon dressing.

    I can eat it like candy.

    My favorite thing? I can’t decide. It’s a toss up its crunchy sweetness (but without any added sugar!) or being the perfect balance to the heavier comfort food dishes because the apple cinnamon dressing is free of heavier oils found in traditional coleslaw.

     

    The apple cabbage slaw recipe is one of the three bonus recipes included in the the Perk Up Your Pantry – Fall edition recipe ebook and also includes:

    • 5 essential sauce recipes
    • 5 essential snack recipes
    • 5 easy main dish recipes
    • 3 fall-inspired bonus recipes
    • A shopping list of all ingredients

    PLUS you’ll receive two bonus items: a meal prep tip sheet and a meal plan tip sheet which includes a suggested meal plan featuring the recipe in the Fall Perk Up Your Pantry recipe book. All for only $8! Click here to buy it now.

     

    And in case you fall on the pumpkin-side of things, I’ll have a pumpkin-inspired recipe for you later this week.

    big summer salad with tahini ranch dressing and herbed walnut croutons (vegan, no added sugar)

    Summer is made for salads. Big salads. Because cool greens, fresh herbs and colorful veggies that are finally in season just beckon on hot, hazy days.

    At least once a week I try to plan a salad for dinner and I wanted this one to capture the abundance that spills from the garden. As a main meal, I wanted it to feel “meaty,” so I diced up some sweet potatoes and roasted them in the oven and further “beefed” up the protein with herby walnut croutons. Since I had a package of farro on hand from my sister, I cooked up some of that too.

    My veggies of choice for this salad are:

    • lettuce (your favorite kind, but I prefer delicate green leaf for this one)
    • spiralized zucchini
    • shredded carrots
    • tomatoes
    • snap peas
    • corn
    • cucumber
    • sweet potato

    As a side note…did you know that you can eat the skin of a sweet potato? I always assumed I needed to peel it until I read otherwise in The Seven-Day Rescue Diet*. I love the added texture and vitamins plus another way of reducing kitchen waste!

    For the ranch dressing, I slightly adapted my garlic herb dressing from my favorite BLT Salad. I may try a cashew version of this dressing down the road since cashews lend themselves so well so dairy-free creams, but tahini is more budget friendly so I went with it this time.

     

    Ever since I had children, I’ve discovered that even though they are birthed from the same parents, they have completely different taste buds. Go figure. To avoid personally having to customize each salad (which would definitely exceed the limits of mental capacity) and to make veggie eating a (more) enjoyable experience for my brood, I plate the lettuce, but create a veggie buffet on the table for the fixings. That way, each person can select the toppings they like best and I never have soggy lettuce leftover that often is a downfall of pre-mixing a salad.

    I would love to hear if you try this tip! And/or have you tried something like this with your family? How do you encourage your children to eat their greens?

     

    • Click here for my favorite food processor and the veggie spiralizer I use
    • Click here for the avocado oil.

     

    big summer salad with tahini ranch dressing and herbed walnut croutons
    Prep Time
    20 mins
    Cook Time
    40 mins
    Total Time
    1 hr
     

    Cool greens, fresh herbs and colorful veggies capture the abundance that spills from the garden on hot, hazy days. Diced sweet potatoes, herbed walnut croutons and tangy ranch dressing round out this salad to make it a satisfying main meal or easily scale it back for a side.


    Course: Main Course, Salad
    Ingredients
    For the salad
    • lettuce
    • zucchini, spiralized
    • carrots, shredded
    • cherry tomatoes, halved
    • corn
    • snap peas, chopped
    • cucumber, diced
    • farro (about 1/4 c. cooked/person)
    • sweet potaotes, diced
    For the tahini ranch dressing
    • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
    • 1/4 cup tahini
    • 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
    • 1 garlic clove
    • 1/8 cup fresh parsley (or 1 tsp dried)
    • 1 1/2 tsp dried dill
    • 1/4 tsp salt
    • dashes freshly ground pepper
    • 3 tsp fresh chives
    • 2 1/2 tsp onion powder
    For the herbed walnut croutons
    • 1 cup walnuts
    • 1/8 tsp garlic powder
    • 1/8 tsp dried oregano
    • 1/8 tsp dried thyme
    • 1/8 tsp dried parsley
    • 1/2 tsp avocado oil
    • dashes salt and pepper
    Instructions
    For the salad
    1. Place the diced sweet potatoes (seasoned with salt and pepper if desired) on a baking sheet that is lined with parchment paper in a 350 F oven for 35-45 minutes or until cooked through.

    2. Cook farro according to package directions.

    3. 3. Prepare veggies while the sweet potatoes are cooking.

    For the tahini ranch dressing
    1. Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until thoroughly combined. Pour into a glass jar. Can be stored in the fridge for up to one week.

    For the herbed walnut croutons
    1. Add all ingredients to a small mixing bowl and stir thoroughly until the nuts are well coated with the herbs (using your hands is helpful). Turn onto a metal baking sheet or pie tin and pop in the oven with the sweet potatoes. Bake for 5-7 minutes or until the nuts are lightly toasted and fragrant. *Keep an eye on them as they go quickly from lightly toasted to burnt.*

    Recipe Notes

    RECIPE NOTES: While I didn't include the portion sizes for the salad ingredients, here is a general guideline for adult portion sizes:

    • one generous handful of lettuce and one medium carrot per person
    • one small spiralized zucchini per 2-3 people
    • one medium sweet potato per 2 people
    • 1/8-1/4 cup of corn, cucumber, snap peas and farro per person
    • 4-5 cherry tomatoes per person

    I like using organic frozen corn and simply let it thaw since GMO free corn on the cob is hard to find (and it's easier!)

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