Caribbean Sweet Potato Gratin

This is the first recipe I tried out of another Christmas-gift cookbook, Moosewood Restaurant New Classics. I've been a Moosewood devotee for some years now, and I love their simple but delicious takes on everyday cooking in Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home, which I've used for quite a while. (See, e.g., this chickpea and tofu curry.)

This new installment is less focused on quick-and-easy recipes (though there are still many of those), but rather more on fresh, healthy, delicious vegetarian recipes that you'll want to make over and over again. This recipe is a pretty good example of just that. It's a lovely gratin which layers thin sweet potato slices, black beans, rice, and spinach to bake in a lime-coconut milk broth with a crunchy cornmeal topping. I was a big fan of this dish. Have a simple green salad with some sliced avocado alongside to make this a perfect meal.

It falls apart on the plate a bit, but the taste makes up for the slightly sloppy appearance...

Caribbean Sweet Potato Gratin
From Moosewood Restaurant New Classics
  • 1 garlic clove, minced or pressed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly grated lime peel
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 1/2 cups coconut milk (about 1 1/2 cans; freeze any leftovers for later use) (I used light coconut milk)
  • 4 cups peeled and thinly sliced sweet potatoes (use a mandoline if you have one)
  • 1 cup cooked rice
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked black beans (one can, rinsed and drained)
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh spinach, rinsed, stemmed, and chopped
For topping:
  • 3/4 cup cornmeal
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Lightly oil a 9x13 inch baking pan.

Combine the garlic, lime peel and juice, cilantro, thyme, salt, pepper, and coconut milk in a measuring cup. Pour one third of this mixture into the baking pan. Layer half of the sweet potatoes in the bottom, topped by half of the rice, half of the black beans, and half the spinach. Pour on another third of the coconut milk mixture and repeat the layers of sweet potatoes, rice, beans, and spinach. Pour the remaining coconut milk over all. In a small bowl combine all of the topping ingredients and sprinkle over the gratin.

Bake, uncovered, for about 60 minutes, rotating the pan in the oven after 30 minutes to ensure uniform baking. When the potatoes are tender and the topping is crisp and golden brown, remove from the oven and let sit for 2 to 3 minutes so the potatoes can absorb some extra liquid.

Serves 6.