Sweet potatoes are still in season here, so I can still get them at the farmers' market. And I do, especially recently because it's been so cold here it's hard to think about Spring food. Strangely enough, I don't like the sweet potato casserole that most people eat, the kind with marshmallows on top, so I've always just baked them and eaten them with a little butter and salt and pepper. That's not to say I don't like sweet potatoes dripping in sugar, though, as I just discovered last Thanksgiving. My husband's grandfather makes the best sweet potatoes you've ever tasted. They are divine. They're also dripping in melted brown sugar. Literally. Good thing we only eat them once a year! And good thing there are more savory recipes out there like this one because, let's be honest, sometimes plain poatoes, sweet or not, with butter and salt and pepper can get old. The leeks and rosemary in this recipe counter the natural sweetness of the sweet potato and make a more savory dish than you might be used to. Different and really good.
1 1/2 tablespoons grapeseed oil, divided
3 medium leeks, white and light green parts chopped (6 cups)
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary, divided
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/8 inch thick slices
1/3 cup vegetable broth
3 tablespoons italian seasoned dry breadcrumbs *
Preheat oven to 450. Coat a 10-inch round casserole dish with coconut oil.
Heat 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil in nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add leeks, garlic, and 1 1/2 tablespoons rosemary. Saute 8 minutes or until softened. Season with salt and pepper if desired.
Arrange one-third of the sweet potato slices over the bottom of the casserole dish, overlapping slightly. Spread half of the leek mixture on top. Arrange another one-third sweet potato slices over leeks. Top with remaining leeks followed by remaining sweet potatoes.
Drizzle broth over the top. Cover the pan with foil and bake for 35 minutes.
Stir together breadcrumbs, remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons of oil, and remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons rosemary in a small bowl. Remove the foil from the gratin and sprinkle with breadcrumb mixture.
Bake, uncovered, for 15 minutes or until breadcrumbs are browned and crisp.
Let gratin cool slightly before cutting into wedges and serving.
(Recipe adapted from Vegetarian Times, January/February 2011)
* Store-bought breadcrumbs contain a surprising amount of unpronouncable ingredients (i.e., preservatives). Homemade breadcrumbs are simple to make, so I highly recommend you make your own. If you don't have homemade bread, buy whole grain bread. Leave a few pieces out overnight so they get stale. Put them in your food processor and process until they are crumbs. Simple as that. These breadcrumbs will last for a long time in the freezer. For this recipe, I added italian seasoning to the food processor.