Gretchen’s Table: Twice-Baked Cauliflower Sweet Potatoes

Like many runners, I ate a lot of sweet potatoes when training for distance events that required a diet rich in healthy carbohydrates and muscle-loving antioxidants. Even now that I haven’t run that long or that far, I still love orange-fleshed tubers because they’re so easy to make, play well with other ingredients, and are a relatively inexpensive source of things that are good for the body like beta carotene and vitamin C. .

Usually just cut them into fatty wedges and then roast them in a hot oven with a little salt and paprika. When I’m craving something a little heartier but still vegetarian, I mash the insides after cooking and halving the potatoes, add some spices and other ingredients, then pop the mashed stuffing inside the shells for a second bake .

Maybe you’re training for a marathon or just like the idea of ​​eating vegetarian occasionally. This double-baked sweet potato filled with caramelized and roasted cauliflower topped with a cheesy sauce will help get you started.

I adapted the recipe from Deb Perelman’s new cookbook, “Smitten Kitchen Keepers,” to the ingredients I already had on hand by swapping the sweet potatoes for russets and using red onion instead of leeks. I also drizzled the potatoes with a generous (but optional) pinch of paprika to add a slightly smoky flavor, and sprinkled the crispy golden dish with some grated Parmesan for a savory finish.

Potatoes are a perfect side dish on these last cold winter evenings, or when paired with a large green salad, a fulfilling lunch or dinner. Any leftover cheese dip is great for another runner favorite: nachos or tacos.

Potatoes stuffed with roasted cauliflower

3 large sweet potatoes

Olive oil, for pan

1 large-headed cauliflower, broken or cut into florets

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Smoked sweet paprika, optional

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/4 cup chopped red onion, divided

4 tablespoons of flour

1 teaspoon Dijon or honey mustard

Ground cayenne or a dash of chili-flavored olive oil, optional

1 1/2 -2 cups whole or low-fat milk

1 1/2 cups chopped sharp cheddar, plus a little more for garnish

Grated Parmesan, for dusting

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.

Peel the potatoes, then pierce them all over with a fork. Rub with 1 tablespoon olive oil, then place on oven rack and cook until tender in the center when pierced, about 1 hour.

While the potatoes cook, prepare the cauliflower. Place the florets in a large bowl, add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, and stir to coat. Season with salt and pepper and as much or as little smoked paprika as desired. Roll again to combine. Place the florets on a baking sheet and roast in the oven with the potatoes until tender and well browned around the edges, about 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave to cool while the potatoes continue cooking.

Meanwhile, prepare the cheese sauce. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add most of the chopped red onion and sauté until translucent, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the flour and whisk to combine, then cook for about 1 minute while continuing to whisk to remove the floury taste. Add mustard and a dash of cayenne pepper (or chili oil), along with a pinch of salt and a good grind of black pepper, and stir to combine.

Pour in the milk a little at a time, stirring to make sure there are no lumps. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring with a spoon, until the sauce thickens. Stir in the cheese, a little at a time, and whisk to combine. Taste and add more seasonings as needed. Cover to keep warm.

Once the potatoes are ready, cut them in half. Scrape the insides into a mixing bowl, being careful not to tear the shell. (Leave a small potato edge intact for support.) Arrange the hollowed-out potato shells on a baking sheet.

Mash the potatoes in the bowl, then add about 1 cup of roasted cauliflower. Fill the potato shells with the filling. Drizzle the cheese sauce over the potatoes (as much or as little as you like — you’ll have more than you need), then garnish with the remaining roasted cauliflower florets. Sprinkle some shredded cheddar cheese over the potatoes, along with the grated Parmesan.

Return to the oven to cook until the cauliflower topping is brown and the cheese has melted, about 5 to 7 minutes.

Serve, with chopped red onion on top if desired.

Makes 6 servings.

Adapted from Deb Perelman’s “Smitten Kitchen Keepers” (Knopf, Nov. 2022, $35)