I’m a cancer survivor. It’s not detectable by the human eye, so it sometimes surprises people. My type of cancer, CML (chronic myelogenous leukemia), is treatable by a pill. This pill was invented about ten years before I was diagnosed, and it’s a true miracle drug. Ten years previous I would have had to have a bone marrow transplant. But since I was diagnosed in 2010, there was no bone marrow transplant and no chemo. This pill not only saved my life, but made healing from cancer an invisible process with no major side effects. A miracle, indeed.
Cancer has been making the rounds in my circle lately. It’s been stealing husbands in their 30’s, leaving behind sweet little daughters. It’s been taking away moms and dads and sisters and brothers. These days, it’s almost impossible to find someone whose community has not been shaken by cancer. It’s easy to hate. I hate that my friend never to watch his 4-month old twins graduate college or walk them down the aisle. But while it’s a deadly, terrible disease, cancer has also connected me to phenomenal people. They’re people who are serious fighters, who have grappled with their own mortality and let go of many things it’s easy to cling to in this life. I meet and exchange emails every now and again with cancer survivors, and it’s always a true pleasure to hear people’s stories—though the bond we share is not a light one.
This recipe is inspired by a relationship formed through CML. I recently connected with Erin, a Cytogenetic Technologist in Texas who loves to cook. Funny enough, Erin spends most of her day at a microscope analyzing DNA of cancer patients. It just so happens that CML is one of the main cancers she encountered at a previous lab. When she heard me talking about CML on our podcast, her ears perked. She told me, via email, that hearing me talk put a face to the slides that she looks at through the microscope every day. Though her job is monotonous, my story made her remember that it’s an important job, even if she doesn’t see the people she helps.
So, thank you—to those of you toiling away silently on cancer research, reading slides in monotony, making diagnoses, drawing blood, donating blood, serving children, and walking alongside adults. To any of you who’ve had a hand in the fight against cancer: your work matters, and it affects people all over the world—many whose stories didn’t have to end because you do what you do.
Erin and I got to talking and she asked me about where Alex and I get inspiration for our recipes. I said here and there, the farmer’s market, food blogs, magazines, cookbooks, and dishes we eat at restaurants. We look for inspiration everywhere, really, keeping an eye towards healthy dinner ideas and recently vegan recipes. She told me about a salad she recreated based on one from a local grocery, a Southwestern bowl featuring greens, roasted corn, sweet potatoes, pepitas, and a hatch chile dressing. And in that brief exchange, inspiration hit. I asked whether we could recreate our own version of the recipe to share, and she graciously agreed.
Recently, I received another email from Erin; she told me that her mother passed from cancer years ago. At the time, she felt there could never be one good thing that came from that experience. But since then, she’s been able to connect with and walk alongside people going through grief and loss. And though she’d give anything for another day with her mom, she’s grateful she can now be there for others. In the same way, incredible people were there for me, and I see them rallying around the others in my community who need it. So, thank you—to those of you walking alongside people affected by disease and grief and loss in any way: you are a lifeline and give us hope. And though cancer sucks, it also can bring us together in beautiful ways.
A few items of note about this Southwestern bowl recipe:
- It files under healthy dinner ideas and vegan recipes; it’s a main dish that’s filling and uses colorful seasonal produce. We used tomatoes and corn from our local farmer’s market.
- Sweet potatoes were part of the inspiration Southwestern bowl. Though they aren’t exactly summer produce, we like that they’re filling and add a contrasting sweetness. You can omit the sweet potato if you prefer.
- We added spiced rice to make the bowl more filling. If you use short grain white rice, it takes only about 15 minutes to make while the veggies are roasting.
- We used canned mild green chiles instead of hatch chiles in the vinaigrette, since they’re more easily accessible in Indiana.
Looking for vegan recipes?
Vegan recipes are becoming more and more popular. Some of our favorite vegan recipes for summertime eating are below:
- Herby Tomato Flatbread with Rye Cracker Crust
- Veggie Burger with Tart Cherry Salsa
- Raw Falafel Buddha Bowls
Looking for healthy dinner ideas?
Who isn’t looking for healthy dinner ideas, these days? Several of our top healthy dinner ideas are in the Vegan Recipes category above, but here’s a few more with a summer flair:
- Eggplant Involtini with Spanish Mojo Sauce
- Greek Sofrito Quinoa Bowl
- Vegetarian Spinach Meatballs & Spaghetti
Did you make this recipe?
If you make our Southwestern bowl with green chile vinaigrette recipe, we’d love to hear how it turned out. Leave a comment below or share a picture on Instagram and mention @acouplecooks.
This recipe is…
Vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, plant-based, dairy-free, and refined sugar free.
- For the roasted vegetables
- 2 large sweet potatoes (1½ pounds)
- ¾ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1½ tablespoons olive oil, plus additional for drizzling
- 3 ears corn* (if desired, use frozen corn and thaw)
- For the rice
- 2 short grain rice, white or brown
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- For the salad
- Green chile vinaigrette (below)
- 12 cups mixed greens
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes
- ½ small red onion
- ¼ cup roasted and salted pepitas
- Make the roasted vegetables: Preheat the oven to 450°F. Chop the sweet potatoes into bite-sized pieces. Mix with garlic powder, salt and olive oil. Roast for 20 to 25 minutes, until tender.
- Husk the corn, place it on a lined baking sheet, and drizzle with olive oil. Roast for 30 minutes until lightly browned and golden, turning occasionally.
- Make the rice: Place the rice in a medium saucepan with 2 cups water. Cover, then bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer, and cook until the water is absorbed, about 10 to 15 minutes for white rice, or about 30 for brown rice (follow the package instructions). Then stir in the olive oil, cumin, chili powder, and kosher salt.
- Make the dressing (below).
- Serve: Slice the tomatoes and dice the red onion. Sprinkle the tomatoes with a bit of kosher salt. To serve, place the greens in bowls, then top with rice, roasted sweet potatoes and corn, tomatoes, red onion, and pepitas. Serve the dressing on the side; store leftover dressing refrigerated.
- 4 ounce can diced mild green chiles
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
- 12 tablespoons olive oil
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- Thoroughly drain the green chilies. Using an immersion blender or blender, blend the chilies, soy sauce, and sherry vinegar. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and blend. Then gradually add another 2 tablespoons olive oil at a time and blend, until a creamy emulsion forms. (Makes more than used for the bowls; leftovers keep in the refrigerator; warm to room temperature prior to serving.)