Feels as though it’s been a while since I posted a recipe! I’ve been cooking, but most of what I’ve made has been either a tried-and-true staple—like this soup or these braised beans—or recipes from Power Plates, which I’m happily revisiting for the first time in a long while. Mixed in with all of the familiar favorites are a few new meals, and these smoky lentil kale stuffed sweet potatoes with pumpkin seed cream are one of them.
On Tuesday morning, I stole a little time to visit the new Whole Foods Market 365 market in Fort Greene. I’ve been a fan of the brand’s 365 products, including affordable canned beans, pasta sauce, tomato paste and canned tomatoes, veggie broth, spices, and more, for a long time, and I remember being really excited when I learned that the product line would be evolving into markets across the country.
Whole Foods Market 365 offer similar values and the same quality and focus of other Whole Foods stores—fresh produce, organically grown food, big selections of vegan products—with a focus on more affordable price points, smaller stores, and a more streamlined shopping experience. One of the upsides of my local Whole Foods are their size and selection, but I really appreciated how compact the Fort Green 365 market was: I was able to navigate the aisles and check out in what (for me) is record timing.
I also loved the focus on 365 products, from bagged produce to canned legumes to nuts and dried fruit. I’m used to seeking those items out for the price point, and it was nice to see them displayed so prominently. While the focus is decidedly on affordable, quality everyday cooking staples, the store also has plenty of specialized vegan options: I was super excited to see a fully stocked vegan cheese section, plenty of vegan meats, and a hot and cold bar for meals-to-go!
One of my favorite recipes from Power Plates—one that I’ve revisited a few times since the book was published—are the Moroccan stuffed sweet potatoes, which feature fragrant spiced lentils and greens. This recipe was inspired by those, but it’s quicker, easier, and more streamlined. There are less spices and seasonings and a different flavor profile altogether—this time a smoky one. I used smoked paprika to make that happen, but a vegan bacon could be used instead, or in addition to it, for extra smokiness.
It was easy to find everything I needed for the recipe at the market. I picked up a bag of black lentils (they got much paler as they cooked, which is why they look brown here!), onion, sweet potatoes, and the pumpkin seeds with which I made the cream. The idea was to replicate Mexican crema, which is usually a little tart; I find pumpkin seeds to be ever-so-slightly bitter on their own, and I added a squeeze of lime juice to the mix for good measure. There’s a bulk bin section at the store, and pumpkin seeds are also sold bagged (as are other nuts, seeds, dried fruits, and grains).
While I was stocking up for the recipe, I also picked up a few other things I needed, including brussels sprouts (this week’s pick for veggies to roast for bowls and salads), herbal tea, and canned beans. Next time I’m nearby, I’m excited to stop by the Orwasher’s bakery on the ground floor of the store and see what vegan breads are available.
In the meantime, these potatoes. What I crave most when I’m super busy is food that feels grounding to me, and potatoes always do. So do earthy lentils and cooked greens. The recipe is just what I need right now, and it’s an easy one to batch cook: the potatoes and filling can be prepared separately, if you’d like to make either in advance, and the you could even split preparation of the filling up by cooking the lentils a day before sautéing them with the onion and kale. If you store the potatoes and filling separately, they’ll hold up better as leftovers.
And if you don’t have time for the cream, a pre-made vegan sour cream will work nicely, or you can skip the topping altogether.
Smoky Lentil Kale Stuffed Sweet Potatoes with Pumpkin Seed Cream
- 2 medium sized sweet potatoes scrubbed
- 3/4 cup black brown, or green lentils (or 1 3/4 cups, or one can, cooked lentils)
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 medium white or yellow onion chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon ground chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1/2 cup vegetable broth
- 1 small bunch curly kale thick stems removed and chopped
- Crushed red pepper flakes to taste
For the pumpkin seed cream:
- 1/2 cup raw shelled pumpkin seeds, soaked for at least 2 hours and drained of soak water
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 teaspoons lime juice
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Preheat your oven to 400F. Prick the skins of the potatoes with a fork and transfer them to the oven. Bake for 45 minutes, or until fork tender all the way through.
- While the potatoes bake, bring a salted pot of water to boil. Add the lentils and cook for 25-35 minutes, or until tender (you can use a slotted spoon to try some; if they're too al dente at 25 minutes, keep boiling). Drain the lentils.
- To make the cream, add the pumpkin seeds, water, lime juice, and salt to a food processor or high speed blender and blend till smooth and creamy. Adjust the salt to taste.
- Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and sautee for 5 minutes, or until clear and soft. Add the paprika and chili, salt, tomato paste, and broth and give everything a good stir. Add the kale and cook for 5-7 minutes, or until the kale is completely tender. Fold in the lentils and add an extra splash of broth if needed. Add crushed red pepper to taste and adjust salt to taste.
- Cut the potatoes in half and top each with a generous scoop of the lentil mixture, followed by a few tablespoons of the pumpkin seed cream. Serve.
I don’t live close enough to Fort Green to make the Whole Foods Market 365 my regular grocery shopping destination (or to take advantage of the membership program, which sounds cool), but it’s steps away from the Atlantic Avenue subway stop, which means it’ll be easy to shop there and get groceries home when I’m nearby. In the meantime, I’m happy for what it’s adding to the city: an-easy-to-navigate market with a definite neighborhood feel.
I’m still playing catch up over here and making peace with the fact that things will probably feel chaotic till I graduate from my program in May. In the meantime, earthy, filling, nutritious food does wonders to keep me calm. And I’m really looking forward to Passover with my chosen family tomorrow.
Wishing you all a good holiday weekend, if you’re celebrating/observing, and I’ll be back with the weekend reading roundup soon.
This post is sponsored by Whole Foods Market 365. All opinions are my own. Thanks for your support!