This is one of those meals that I wasn't really planning on being anything extra special or turning out as well as it did. That is one of the things I love so much about cooking, coming up with new combinations that surprise me with how good they are. Taking a couple of ingredients that I have never really put together and creating a whole new dish out of them that just works, at least for me anyways!
The other night I just happened to have a few leftovers and random ingredients hanging out in my fridge and thought I better use them up or freeze them before they went bad. I had a general idea about what I was going to do with them, but it sort of evolved as I went along and turned into this wonderfully warm and filling salad, perfect on a rainy and chilly spring night. Sweet and creamy baked sweet potato combined with chewy brown rice, and roasted cabbage, topped with pecans for nuttiness and some dried cranberries for sweetness. A quick dressing of tahini and yogurt finishes the whole thing off and brings it all together.
I decided to use zaatar for flavoring this salad. I've really been liking zaatar recently. If you don't know what zaatar is, it is a really nice mixture of dried herbs (dried thyme mostly I think), sesame seeds and sumac that is used in the Middle East. If you haven't tried it before I highly recommend it. But this is not a recipe that is set in stone so if you don't have any zaatar go ahead and use something else, you're favorite herbs or spices, whatever you have on hand. I also thought this would be good with a Mexican twist, using chili powder and cumin and throwing in some fresh cilantro, yum! Switching out different dried fruits and different nuts would also be be fun to play with. Cooking is just a great way to let your imagination go wild, so go ahead and have some fun!
Warm Brown Rice, Sweet Potato and Roasted Cabbage Salad with Tahini Yogurt Dressing
- 1 medium sweet potato
- 1/4 head cabbage, sliced thin
- 1/2 medium onion, sliced thin
- 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup brown rice (or 1-1 1/2 cups cooked brown rice)
- 2 tablespoons Zaatar spice mix
- Cayenne pepper, to taste
- Plain yogurt
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Place sweet potato on a baking sheet and baked until tender, 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes, depending on the size of the sweet potato. Set aside until cool enough to handle.
Thinly slice the cabbage. toss with a little olive oil and some salt. Place on a baking sheet and broil until starting to wilt and char, stirring occasionally to evenly cook. This can take anywhere from 10-30 minutes depending on how charred you like your cabbage, and how hot your oven gets.
While cooking the potato and cabbage, sauté sliced onions in a pan over medium to low heat until very soft and tender. When onions are caramelized to your liking, add the garlic and cook until fragrant.
Cook the brown rice according to package instructions. Or even better, if you have some leftover rice use that in instead. Add the cabbage and brown rice to the onions and garlic mixture.
Cut the cooled sweet potato into bite sized chunks. Add to the sauté pan along with the zaatar and cayenne. Give the whole thing a nice stir, adding some water to the pan if needed. Drizzle tahini over the whole mixture to taste and add a couple spoonfuls of yogurt. Stir again to combine well. Taste and season with salt if needed.
Spoon salad into bowls and top with pecans and dried cranberries.