Confession: I don't know diddley-squat about Cajun food. DIDDLEY-SQUAT. That's keyword for "nothing". I know nothing about Cajun food.
I do, however, know that I have a convenient little jar of a Cajun spice mix in my pantry with the surprising ability to turn an unplanned, "wingin'-it" recipe into a red. hot. show-stopper. It's like that lil' spicy dude had my back. Thanks, man. Much appreciated.
Now that I'm diving what feels like face-first into this whole (almost) full-time blogging thing, I'm planning like I never have before. I'm constantly brainstorming recipes. I'm making more trips to the grocery store and farmers markets each week than there are days in the week itself. I think that fits the criteria of "face-first", don't you?
As I said in my last post, I'm not working a typical job this summer and I'm not taking classes. I'm blogging. All day, everyday. That phrase has never held more truth to it than it does at this point of my life. But hey, I'm absolutely falling head-over-heels in love with cooking and creating and tasting and surprising myself and embracing food as my passion.
I had planned to make this post all about picking up the pieces when plans fall apart because that's not only how this recipe came about, but also how some significant life situations have recently carried themselves out, but everything I wrote just felt so a) dramatic, b) cliche, and c) way too serious to be discussed with a recipe that surprised me in the best way possible.
Food has captured me and flipped me upside down into the very definition of "head-over-heels in-love". For the last seven consecutive days, I've spent at least half the day either in the kitchen or within an arm's reach of something edible, and I've spent almost every minute smiling and thanking God for showing me what peace with food and my body (vs. the diet-mentality) feels like.
It feels like biting into mom's fresh-from-the-oven brownies (made with all-purpose flour, not black beans), topped with a melty scoop of cool vanilla ice cream (made with actual sugar, not just bananas) and l o v i n g it. It feels like working your a$$ off in chemistry classes to get only B's and C's, and then finding classes you e n j o y and getting A's. It feels like a glass of wine (the one you swore off before you'd even given it a taste) and a couple bites of this and that with friends and family for happy hour on a warm, breezy summer evening.
It feels like - after y e a r s of running away from this, in search of that and back and forth and through the woods and the water and the wind - reaching the destination you doubted for so long ever existed, coming to the mirror you've always worshipped or hated, actually looking in it, and somehow seeing beyond the culturally defined imperfections, directly into the beautiful, passionate, unique, and intelligent human being you were created to be.
Wow - that was a mouthful, huh?
My prayer is that everyone reaches a place like this. Food is too tasty to restrict, yet too insignificant to fear.
:) Thank the Lord for showing me that and for answering that prayer for myself with such grace, mercy, and unconditional love.
So, like, this recipe... it makes me feel like I could maybe pleasantly surprise a Cajun-expert if I were to slide this plate in front of him. You can do that, too! Pick up some sweet potatoes, a red onion, and a bunch of kale from your local farmers market. Grab a can of beans, which you probably already have in your pantry. Toss all the spices in, crisp everything up, and serve with that creamy, salty, sweet tahini drizz.
My friends, I wish you a happy, happy meal time.
Makes 4-5 servings
1 15-oz. can chickpeas (or garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed
1/4 cup diced red onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup chopped kale
2 medium sweet potatoes, chopped into 1/2" cubes
4 tbsp. grapeseed oil
2 tsp. cajun seasoning
salt and pepper, to taste
Cilantro, for garnish
Maple tahini dressing, for serving
- Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and coat with 1 tbsp. grapeseed oil. Toss the chickpeas, 1 tbsp. grapeseed oil, red onion, garlic, and 1/2 tsp. Cajun seasoning in a bowl to combine, and then toss it all into the skillet. Cook until onions are tender and chickpeas are lightly charred. Remove from pan and set aside.
- Coat the same skillet with another 2 tbsp. of grapeseed oil and add in the sweet potato cubes and remaining Cajun seasoning. Cook until the sweet potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork and charred on at least one side. Reduce heat to low, add in the kale and cooked chickpeas, and cook until the kale is bright green and soft.
- Serve immediately, topped with fresh chopped cilantro and a drizzle of maple tahini sauce. Store leftovers in an airtight container for 4-5 days.