Why We Love This Recipe
Ah, sweet potatoes: The standby of savory pies and sweet casseroles, delicious dishes that typically also include an extra serving of fat and sugar. And while those pies and the such are wonderful once-in-awhile treats, the truth is that sweet potatoes don’t need the butter, cream and refined sweeteners to shine—as evidenced by this vegan sweet potato mash. Especially if you roast said sweet potatoes, instead of, say, boiling them: The natural sugars are intensified when roasted inside of their skins, versus when peeled and cooked in water. And keeping the skins on doubles the fiber content and adds a wonderful texture.
To continue in this direction—abandoning the purity of classic mashed potatoes—add a nutritious helping of wilted spinach into the mix. Roasting the spinach, like the sweet potatoes, allows us to avoid the messy task of draining and squeezing out the liquid. (One less pot to clean up!) A dash each of turmeric and thyme will enhance the color and flavor of the mash, and a bit of coconut oil (instead of that butter) will add a glossy richness. The finished product: A tri-colored, healthy, flavorful sweet potato dish.
This is a great make-ahead dish because, unlike standard mashed potatoes, a sweet potato version responds well to refrigeration and reheating. The texture won’t turn chalky and bland. On the contrary, actually: It remains moist and the infused spices only improve in flavor.
Because this dish is dairy-free, you can pair it confidently with any protein. The flavors are clean enough to compliment fish, chicken, and eggs, but also hearty enough to stand alongside red meat. In just one serving, you can check off two vegetables and one serving of healthy fats from your daily nutrition. And, if you wish to turn this dish into a stand-alone vegan meal, simply add some cooked chickpeas and a sprinkle of crunchy sunflower seeds to provide a complete protein.
One medium-size sweet potato contains around 110 calories, 25 grams of carbohydrates, two grams of protein, and almost no fat. It is high in fiber, packing 4 grams per potato, making it an excellent carbohydrate choice. One sweet potato also contains 400% of your daily recommended intake of Vitamin A, multiple B-vitamins, and good levels of vitamin C, potassium, and iron. It helps lower cholesterol levels, and, overall, can be easily incorporated into one’s diet by using in place of half or all of a recipe’s recommended white potatoes.
When choosing sweet-potatoes at the grocery store, opt for those which are smooth and firm. Avoid sweet-potatoes that have soft pockets or shriveled skin. At home, do not store sweet potatoes in the fridge. This will diminish their sweet flavor, and, over time, harden the texture. It is best to leave sweet potatoes ‘‘dirty,’’ with a light coating of soil, until they are ready to be used. Store them in a cool and dry place with natural ventilation. When kept this way, sweet potatoes can last up to three weeks. To prepare for eating, use a coarse brush to scrub away loose dirt and then wash under a running tap of water.
Additional flavors that compliment to sweet potatoes in particular? Cinnamon, nutmeg, roasted nuts, orange zest and juice, honey, maple, coconut, lime, cumin, garlic, rosemary, thyme, curry and smokey flavors (ie: chipotle peppers or smoked paprika). Experiment with your favorite.
VEGAN SWEET POTATO MASH RECIPE
- 4 medium sweet potatoes
- 4 cups (packed) fresh spinach
- ¼ cup coconut oil
- ¼ cup honey or maple syrup
- 1/2 teaspoon dried turmeric
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Preheat oven to 400F degrees. Scrub the sweet potatoes and wash away any dirt. Slice off and discard the end tips, revealing a small part of orange. (These nubs will be too tough for the final mash). Pierce the sweet potatoes all over with a fork and place them on a sheet pan. Bake for 50 minutes or until tender.
- Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, combine the coconut oil, honey or maple syrup, dried turmeric and thyme. Cook on a medium-low heat for 3 minutes to awaken the spices’ flavor and infuse the oil. Do not let the mixture boil. Set aside.
- To check the doneness of the sweet potatoes, insert a knife into the center. The knife should slide out easily, with no resistance. When the sweet potatoes are completely done, add the spinach to the sheet pan. Scatter it over and between the sweet potatoes and return the sheet pan to the oven. Let bake another 10 minutes. Now, the sweet-potatoes will be extra soft and the spinach reduced in volume.
- Transfer the contents of the baking sheet to the large saucepan. Mash everything together using a hand masher or large fork. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Mash as thoroughly or ‘‘rustically’’ as you prefer.
- Transfer to a serving bowl or enjoy it straight from the cooking pot. Garnish with a drizzle more of honey or maple syrup and a dash of thyme.
A few more recipes to experiment with this week:
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