And then I came home and made this instead. I am sure you understand. Before one swan dives into a vat of thick cream and baked cheddar and passes out on a Yorkshire pudding pillow only to revive oneself with a deep inhale of horseradish-triple cream sauce, one must reset their system, so to speak. One must prepare. At the very least, one must dust off their gym ID. And so I put all of those notes in the “dead of winter, need comfort” files and returned to the land of fall, where the leaves are beginning to turn, fragrant unblemished apples hang from acres of trees, and Gwyneth Paltrow gently suggests that if you coat the sweet potatoes and broccoli that are on every market stand with a heavenly miso dressing, you will find some gorgeous dinnertime nirvana in a bowl.
Okay, she didn’t really say that, but it’s what I heard when she shared the recipe a few weeks ago in Goop. I didn’t really follow it; I have my own miso-sesame dressing (used on the Sugar Snap Slaw in the book) and vegetable roasting method that I prefer and used rice instead of greens, but this idea — this “bowl” thing — is a really brilliant concept I think we should wholly embrace because when I put a few piles of brown rice and various roasted vegetables on a plate, it looks sparse and overly earnest; it looks like a critique of that second slice of pie you reached for last night. When I layer it in a bowl with dressing and a scattering of bi-colored seeds, it looks irresistibly stunning, something I would like to curl on my lap while sitting on a stoop and watching people crunch through leaves on their hurried way to places I don’t need to be and feel totally centered and restored. Or, you know, I could throw it down on the dinner table ten whole minutes (a record! first time ever!) before Meltdown O’Clock and marvel that I finally found a way to combine the two vegetables my kid is most eager to eat in a way that tastes grownup. Both work, and leave plenty of space on your dance card for the mess of buttery plums coming later this week.
One year ago: Spaghetti with Broccoli Cream Pesto
Two years ago: Cumin Seed Roasted Cauliflower with Yogurt
Three years ago: Single Crust Apple and Plum Pie
Four years ago: Snickerdoodles, Date Spice Loaf and Lebanese-Style Stuffed Eggplant
Five years ago: Braised Romano Beas, Eggs in Tomato Sauce and Spinach Quiche
Six years ago: Chocolate Babka, Red Velvet Cake and Cream Cheese Noodle Kugel
Seven years ago: Silky Cauliflower Soup (easiest soup, ever), Key Lime Tarts and Romaine Pesto and Egg-Stuffed Tomatoes
Goop suggests that you put the vegetables over a couple cups of spinach or other salad greens, but I used grains instead. I used a half-half mixture of Black Japonica and Brown Jasmine rice, which together made the prettiest purple-red mixture. I’m one of those people who bought a rice cooker in the last year and now can talk about nothing else; being able to toss some water and grains in a machine and walk away while they cook themselves, and then keep themselves warm and perfect for an hour (easily) has changed dinnertime for the so-much-better, and you can use it for other grains too (I was going to use some rainbow quinoa in the mix as well, but decided not to overly complicate things.) A certain 4 year-old would like me to add that it plays Twinkle, Twinkle when you hit the start button, so there’s that, too.
There’s of course no reason to only use these vegetables, or to not swap in others, if you desire. I’d estimate about 1/4 cup dried rice or grains per person; most triple in volume once cooked. I forgot to buy ginger before making the dressing this time and was shocked that we didn’t notice it missing this time, so don’t panic if you’re short an ingredient or two.
For the bowl
1 cup dried rice or another cooking grain of your choice
1 to 2 sweet potatoes (about 1.5 pounds)
1 large bundle broccoli (about 1 pound)
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
Coarse or kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon white sesame seeds
1 teaspoon black sesame seeds
For the miso-sesame dressing
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 small garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons white miso (the mildest kind)
2 tablespoons tahini (other nut butters can work in a pinch)
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons olive oil
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Place rice or grain and cooking liquid in a rice cooker or on the stove. Cook according to package directions.
Peel sweet potatoes and cut into 1-inch cubes. Cut tops off broccoli and separate into bite-sized florets. If your broccoli stems feel especially woody, I like to peel them (with the same vegetable peeler), then cut them into 1/2- to 1-inch segments.
Coat one large or two smaller trays with a thin slick of olive oil. Layer sweet potatoes on tray(s) and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 20 minutes, until browning underneath. Flip and toss chunks around, then add broccoli to the tray(s), season again with salt and pepper, and roast for another 10 to 20 minutes, until broccoli is lightly charred at edges and sweet potato is fully bronzed and tender. Toss chunks around one more time if it looks like they’re cooking unevenly.
In a small skillet, toast black and white sesame seeds until fragrant. (You can do this in the oven if using an oven-proof skillet.) Let cool.
While vegetables roast, prepare sesame-miso dressing: Combine everything in a blender and run until smooth, scraping down sides once. Taste and adjust ingredients if needed, but try to resist adding more honey if it tastes salty, as that extra pop of saltiness is exactly what I think sweet potato needs.
Assemble bowls: Scoop some rice/grains into each, then pile on the roasted sweet potatoes and broccoli. Coat lightly with sesame-miso dressing and finish with toasted sesame seed duo. Serve with extra dressing on the side.