In More Peas, Thank You, (Harlequin, 2013) Sarah Matheny returns to the vegetarian cooking scene with dozens of creative, healthy and delicious vegetarian and vegan recipes. From breakfast to dessert, with plenty of snacks, soups and sides in between, Matheny has created recipes that imitate old favorites and brand-new concoctions that can have anyone making meatless meals at home in no time.
I get embarrassed when people ask me what my favorite food is.
I simply can’t answer in a way that doesn’t make me sound like a complete jerk. The first problem is I am highly indecisive. Then again, maybe I’m not. I can’t make up my mind. And I am a foodie, for goodness’ sake. I create food on a daily basis. You don’t ask Michelangelo what his favorite paint is, do you? See, I told you I’d sound like a complete jerk. Comparing the Sistine Chapel to Mmmm Sauce and Cookie Dough Balls. Some people.
Then you add in the problem of what my actual favorite foods are. It’s hard to tell you without making you hate me. It’s sort of like when you were in fifth grade and the teacher asked what the capital of Florida was and everyone’s guessing Miami and Orlando and you know the right answer is Tallahassee, but again, you don’t want to look like a total jerk, so you just keep your mouth shut or, worse still, shout out “St. Petersburg” to fit in.
And I relive it all again when asked about my favorite food. I could go with popular answers and say, “Pizza” or “Chocolate chip cookies.” But that would be a straight-up “capital of Florida” lie. Because I’m obsessed with broccoli. I would eat oatmeal for every meal if I could. And most days of the week, I would choose a perfect sweet potato over a piece of wedding cake. What a jerk.
I want you to get it, though, and I think with this recipe, you just might. Sweet potato fries are swell. A baked sweet potato is stellar. And there was once even a time I could get behind the traditional sweet potato casserole, with its syrupy brown sugar and roasted marshmallow topping. But what I’ve created here with sweet potatoes, well, it’s even better. It’s a dream come true. And I will proudly say, it’s my favorite. When you try it, you can take back that whole jerk thing.
• 2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
• 1⁄3 cup nondairy milk or organic milk
• 1 tablespoon vegan margarine (i.e., Earth Balance), coconut oil or organic butter
• 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
• 2 tablespoons molasses
• 1⁄2 teaspoon cinnamon
• 1⁄2 teaspoon nutmeg
• 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
For the topping:
• 1⁄4 cup oat flour
• 1⁄4 cup light brown sugar
• 2 tablespoons vegan margarine (i.e., Earth Balance) or coconut oil or coconut butter
• 1⁄2 cup pecans or walnuts, chopped
• cooking spray, to grease casserole dish
1. Place sweet potatoes in a medium pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, cover with a lid and reduce heat. Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, or until sweet potatoes are soft.
2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
3. Drain sweet potatoes and place in a bowl. Add milk, margarine, coconut oil or butter, brown sugar, molasses, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Using an electric handheld mixer or a stand mixer, beat all ingredients together until there are no chunks and potatoes are fluffy.
4. In a small bowl, combine oat flour, brown sugar and margarine, coconut oil or coconut butter to make topping. Mix ingredients together using a fork until mixture has the consistency of coarse crumbs. Stir in nuts.
5. Spread sweet potato mixture in the bottom of a 2-quart casserole dish that has been lightly greased with cooking spray. Sprinkle topping evenly over sweet potatoes.
6. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until topping has browned and potatoes are heated through.
Nutrition information per serving: 500 calories, 18 g total fat, 3.5 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 510 mg sodium, 82 g carbohydrate, 9 g fiber, 37 g sugar, 6 g protein, vitamin A 640%, vitamin C 10%, calcium 15%, iron 15%
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Reprinted with permission from More Peas, Thank You by Sarah Matheny and published by Harlequin, 2013.