Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Eat to Live Cookbook Project: Sweet Potato Lasagna with Swiss Chard and Arugula Walnut Pesto

It's not often that I feel like I have A LOT to say about a recipe, but this is a situation where I feel like I could go on for days about the pros and cons of this recipe.

First off, I want to tell you that if you are expecting the President of the United States to come over for dinner and you want to have something really special, AND Nutritarian, to feed him, you might want to consider this recipe.

Never have I made anything so healthy and yet so gourmet.

I wasn't expecting to like it.

After many days of dragging my butt to get this recipe completed I was already kind of over it before we even took our first bite.  First came the pesto making, then the mushroom and onion sauteing, then the chopping and layering of the "lasagna," and finally, the sauteing of the shallots, Swiss chard and zucchini. Forget about the hours of reducing the pomegranate juice. I blew that off and opted for the quick and easy bottled balsamic glaze.

Forget about the confusion over what size casserole dish this recipe required. That drove me up the wall! The recipe lists a dish with a 2" high wall. What is that supposed to mean? Is it an 8x8 or a 9x13 or some other size? Finally I settled on my small 8x8 (or is it 9x9, I don't know) Pyrex dish because the recipe said that it served 5. I figured ain't no way five people are consuming a 9x13 casserole in one sitting, unless they have appetites like my husband.

The whole thing was quite a production.

Frustrating as well, as the sweet potato just never got soft, no matter how long I left the casserole in the oven.

But somehow, after plating up our first dishes of this meal, the vibrancy of all of that color and all of those vegetables overtook me, and I knew that someday, maybe not soon, I would make this dish again. Because with absolutely no salt at all, it was full of flavor.

And when I do make it again, I'm doubling the recipe. There's no reason to work this hard for two dinners. I want to get a lot more nights off from cooking after I put in this kind of effort!

Sweet Potato "Lasagna" with Swiss Chard and Arugula Walnut Pesto
from The Eat to Live Cookbook by Dr. Joel Fuhrman, p. 198-199

Did I like it? Yes, I really did!

Was it easy to make with readily available ingredients? Not at all, this one is a doozy! It's not that the ingredients are hard to source, although pomegranate juice might be tricky, it just that the time involved is fairly intense.

What specifically did I like about the recipe? I love that I now have a recipe that if I want to serve guests a beautiful plate of food, I know just want to make.

What specifically didn't I like about the recipe? Well, besides the fact that the sweet potatoes never got soft, really nothing. I don't want to complain too much about the time it took to make the recipe, because I really am a believer that great food sometimes requires a lot of effort.

Oh, there us one other thing. Maybe a few other things . . . see below.

Did my husband like it? He loved it and kept thanking me for the great dinner.

Did my teenage daughter like it? She hasn't tried it yet, but I plan on serving her some of the leftovers tonight. I don't expect that she will like this, but I want to try.

Did my eight or five year old try it? Get out of town! This is seriously adult food.

Would I make it again? Yes, but only for special occasions. This is not an ordinary meal in any way.

Is there anything I would do to improve on it if I made it again? The casserole ended up very, very watery. The recipe makes no mention of pressing the tofu before slicing it, and when I make this again I will press the tofu. Also, pouring vegetable broth on top of the casserole before baking, as the recipe specified, probably wasn't a good idea either. I'd eliminate that step. I would also consider partially baking the sweet potatoes before slicing them and layering them into the casserole. That way you wouldn't end up with crunchy sweet potatoes. Nobody like crunchy sweet potatoes.

Overall Grade (completely unscientific, I admit): B+

Have you made Dr. Fuhrman's Sweet Potato "Lasagna" with Swiss Chard and Arugula Walnut Pesto? What were your impressions? Leave a comment below.

Still don't have the book? What are you waiting for? These recipes are colorful.

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