For a while there, we fell into a bit of a dinnertime rut. Favorite dishes started appearing more and more, with little else hitting the menu. It became a time of too many marinated, roasted chicken breasts, a startling number of tacos and more batches of cilantro lime rice than I care to admit to.
I mean, sure, we enjoyed all the foods served, but it was just too predictable and repetitive. Time for a change.
But change of any kind can be a challenge. The longer you remain in the space of same, the harder it is to let go and do something different — whether it’s your eating habits, career or something else.
So last week, determined to break out of the rut, I reached for a new cookbook. Considering that I don’t often cook from cookbooks, that was a big change. While I have dozens of cookbooks on bookshelves in my house, I usually spend more time reading from them than actually cooking from them.
But when I pulled a vegetarian volume from the shelf, I found a pasta recipe that I thought we’d all enjoy. It combined roasted cauliflower with roasted garlic, lemon and other flavors. With big flavor enrobing pasta, it delivered everything I needed: something different, something fresh and something so memorable I nearly made it again a few days later. Sometimes, all it takes is a little step forward — like taking a book from the shelf — to kickstart a change in your life. Or, at least in your eating life.
Determined to keep up the momentum, I’ve since made a half dozen other different dishes — pancakes, hash browns, omelets, chicken dishes and potatoes — playing with recipe ideas I have floating in my head.
It’s the potatoes that I’ve spent the most time with those. Sweet potatoes, red potatoes, russets … we love them all. Using a mandoline, I started slicing them into thin rounds for potato casseroles. Some had onions. Some had big amounts of garlic. Others were cheesier.
I won’t tell you how many casseroles it took to get to the right flavors but after much testing, retesting and tasting, this is the one to try. It’s a savory Rosemary Garlic Parmesan Sweet Potato Casserole — one that everyone who’s tasted has enjoyed.
Before you back away from the sweet potatoes or cringe at the use of cheese, hear me out.
Forget what you know about sweet potatoes, sweet potato casseroles and casseroles in general. There are no marshmallows here. And this vegetarian dish isn’t heavy, filled with cream of whatever soup or laden with fatty ingredients.
No, this casserole is simple. Thinly sliced sweet potatoes are layered with garlic, rosemary, parsley, salt, pepper and parmesan cheese. A touch of vegetable stock adds moistness to it. And then it bakes, with those layers of flavor come together in a tender, herbed casserole that would be lovely with a pork roast, a roast chicken or even just with a runny egg on top.
- 1 tbsp minced rosemary
- 1 tbsp minced parsley
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 lb sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced into ⅛-inch rounds
- salt and pepper, to taste
- ¼ cup parmesan cheese
- ⅓ cup vegetable broth
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease a round casserole dish with butter.
- In a small bowl, stir together the rosemary, parsley and garlic.
- Layer the sweet potato slices, slightly overlapping, in a single layer in the dish. Top with about ¼ of the herb and garlic mixture. Season lightly with a small pinch of salt and pepper, and then layer with another slightly overlapping layer of sweet potatoes. Season with salt and pepper, and then about 1 tablespoon of the parmesan. Repeat, until you reach the last layer of potatoes. Pour over the vegetable broth, mostly around the sides and center, and then top with remaining parmesan and herb and garlic mixture. If desired, sprinkle with additional parmesan.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes, until browned and bubbling at the edges.
- Remove from the oven and let cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.