Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Italian Sweet Potato Gratin

It is difficult to photograph a gratin, or any casserole for that matter, while is is still in the pan.  I think the photograph above is evidence enough.  If you zoom it too close, it looks like the surface of an alien planet.  Conversely, if you show the whole pan very little detail can be seen and it doesn't look for appetizing.  But please, do not be fooled by my photos above!  This dish is amazing!

My Dad & sister, Caroline, bought Moosewood Restaurant Cooking for Health at Powell's in Portland.  There are so many recipes I want to try, but a lot of them require very specialty ingredients that I don't really have the budget for at the moment.  However, this one stuck out to me because it contained relatively conventional ingredients and sounded like nothing I had ever eaten before.  Sweet potatoes and tomato sauce?  With bread crumbs?  Oh, but how good it is!  My Dad proclaimed that this is one of the best things I have ever made, even my non-adventurous eater little sister ate it up and the leftovers (which heated up very well) lasted me a week.  The hardest part of this recipe is making sure you slice the sweet potatoes very thin, but a sharp knife and a little practice makes this an easy task.

In other news, I have started eating chicken - and only free range vegetarian fed chicken - for my health.  Expect to see some healthy chicken recipes up on here at some point!

Italian Sweet Potato Gratin
Adapted from: Moosewood Restaurant Cooking for Health
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 4 cups of VERY thinly sliced peeled sweet potatoes (a sharp knife is key)
  • 4 cups of very thinly slices onions
  • 3 cups of tomato sauce (while I usually make my own, I'm a huge fan of "Seeds of Change")
  • 1 ½ cups grated mozzarella
  • ½ cup whole wheat bread crumbs
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  1. In a bowl, mix together the olive oil, oregano, garlic, basil, red pepper flakes, salt and black pepper.  Set aside.
  2. Evenly spread 1 cup of the sweet potatoes in a lightly oiled 9x13-inch baking pan (don't worry, they don't need to completely cover the bottom of the pan).  Spread 1 cup of the onions over the potatoes.  Drizzle with a quarter of the olive oil mixture and top with a generous ½ cup of the tomato sauce.  Sprinkle with ⅓ cup of mozzarella and then about 2 tablespoons of bread crumbs.  Repeat this layers three more times, using up any extra tomato sauce or mozzarella on the top layer.  Finishing by sprinkling the Parmesan on top.
  3. Cover and bake in a preheated 400 degree over until the sweet potatoes are tender, 45 minutes.  Uncover and  continue to bake until the gratin is bubbling and lightly browned, about 15 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

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