Nice work! You’ve made it through your first week back from break! It appears that your brain didn’t atrophy too much from the week off, and soon you’ll be settled into a rhythm for the rest of the semester. Hopefully your break was restful and lots of fun. Mine certainly turned out that way, thanks in large part to a few key friends.
My family’s home is near Chicago, which seems to be the destination of choice for many Mac students looking for a fun city to visit over breaks. I certainly can’t blame them, since it really is a Toddlin’ Town (cue Sinatra voice) with a lot of fun things to do. I’m partial to being there in the summer, when the bike weather is prime and the two baseball clubs duke it out for a spot in the playoffs (often futilely, I’m afraid). But the beauty of the city is that many of its charms, like deep-dish pizza and the lovely lake shore, last year round, and there is something to be found for everyone.
Moving on from from my Chicago travel brochure, the point is that over this particular break, I had a special interest in showing off the city. Macalester’s tourist contingent to Chicago last week included three good friends on campus: Kevin Fortune ’17, Gabe Barrett ’17 and Cami Garcia-Flahaut ’17. Naturally, I wanted to make them feel at home in my hometown, so I asked if I could hang out with them for a day and then prepare dinner at my house.
After learning that there was both a vegetarian and a pescatarian in the group, I asked my dad (the Culinary Oracle to whom I owe all my cooking genes) if he knew of any good springtime meatless recipes. This recipe was the prophecy I humbly received: a hearty stew that I could cook up fairly quickly after coming home from a day of fun. To add a personal touch to the meal, I decided to serve my signature muffins for dessert.
When the day arrived, it couldn’t have been better. Taking advantage of Chicago’s lusciously warm spring weather, the four of us spent a great afternoon at Lincoln Park Zoo taking selfies with monkeys, laughing at hyenas running in circles and affectionately naming our favorite animals (shoutout to Todd the tiger). The rush-hour drive back to my house was significantly improved by Kevin’s aux cord, which allowed us put on our favorite bangers and sing very loudly the whole way. How Gabe managed to sleep for most of the trip is far beyond me.
The meal itself, despite being only one highlight in a day of diamonds, was very delicious. I found out later that it’s a vegetarian take on feijoada, which is often considered a national dish of Brazil. Traditional feijoada includes beef or pork, but we found the veggie version to be quite pleasing! Aside from being tasty, it’s also very bright and colorful!
For anyone wondering, we have claimed the title of First Chicago NÜDL and even sent in the necessary selfie, though it as yet to be officially verified by their executives (looking at you, Alex Dangel ’16). As always, bon appétit.
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 ¼ pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes, UNDRAINED
- 1 serrano pepper (or more to taste), minced
- 2 16-oz cans black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 ripe mango, pitted, peeled and diced
- ¼ cup fresh chopped cilantro
- ¼ tsp salt
- Warm tortillas or fresh bread, to serve
In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook until onion is golden, about 3 minutes more.
Stir in sweet potatoes, red pepper, tomatoes (with liquid), serrano and 1 ½ cups of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover the pot and simmer until potatoes are tender but still firm, 10 to 15 minutes.
Stir in beans and simmer gently, uncovered, until heated through, about 5 minutes. Stir in mango and cook for 1 minute more. Stir in cilantro and salt.
Serve hot, either on tortillas or plain and accompanied with fresh bread!