Sweet potato, mushroom and quinoa bowl

A balmy 80-degree F week in Dallas had me feeling unexpectedly autumnal this week. I didn't grow up with Fall in Texas – leaves fell just as much in the summer as they did in the fall; you could always wear shorts on Thanksgiving Day.

But my first semester of freshman year at college in North Carolina, I finally understood why people got excited about Fall. Something changes in the air, and you just want to go buy a gourd. It's compulsive.

sweet-potato-mushroom-and-quinoa-bowl.jpg

This week's cold front – it's usually still flirting with 100-degrees F this time of year – brought up the same reflex. I found myself experimenting with butternut squash, sweet potatoes and apples, and I came up with a bowl that will be my dinner and work lunches staple through November.

It's a simple mix of sweet potatoes, mushrooms and quinoa. It's the sesame oil-honey sauce that makes the difference. The umami of mushrooms and rustic cloy of sweet potatoes is well-balanced with a salty and sweet sauce. Quinoa is an obvious addition for its protein content, but the individual granules add a slight crunchy to what could be a one-note, mushy texture.

As a note, I bake the vegetables in vegetable oil because I prefer the taste. You can absolutely use olive oil, but I'm just warning you that it might not taste quite right. For the mushroom fans out there, you might consider doubling the amount prescribed below – you'll just need to add another teaspoon of oil, but it's worth it.

This recipe serves 4 entrée portions or 6 to 8 side portions. It takes 45 minutes or less – I suggest buying pre-sliced mushrooms and pre-cubed sweet potatoes if you want to save time.

What you need

Sweet potato, mushroom and quinoa bowl

  • 8 oz fresh button mushrooms, sliced into 1/4-inch thick pieces
  • 1.5 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 tbsp canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly crack black or white pepper
  • 1/2 cup quinoa
  • 3/4 cup water

Sesame oil-honey sauce

  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp dark sesame oil

How to do it

Preheat oven to 425-degrees F. 

While the oven preheats, slice the mushrooms, and peel and cube sweet potatoes. Place mushrooms and sweet potatoes on a baking sheet lined with foil or parchment paper, then drizzle oil over the top and season with salt and pepper.

Place baking sheet into the oven and roast the mushrooms and sweet potatoes for 20-minutes, or until potatoes are soft and the mushrooms have been cooked down in size by about half. 

While the vegetables roast, add quinoa and water to a small sauce pan. Bring quinoa to a boil over high heat. Once the quinoa reaches a boil, reduce heat to bring the quinoa to a low simmer. Cover the saucepan and allow quinoa to simmer for 18 minutes. Remove from heat and keep the lid on the quinoa for at least 5 minutes.

For the sesame oil-honey sauce, whisk together all of the ingredients in a small bowl, and set aside.

To serve, add mushrooms, sweet potatoes and quinoa to a bowl. Pour sesame oil-honey sauce over the vegetables and quinoa. Using a spatula, gently mix the ingredients together, thoroughly coating the vegetables and quinoa. Serve immediately while warm - and possibly with sriracha nearby.

Store leftovers in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator for up to a week. Reheat in the microwave until warm. 

This recipe serves 4 people for full-sized entree portions and 6-8 for side portions.