Friday, November 18, 2011

Sweet Potato and Carrot Crisp

Food sensitivities: Many people have them, and it’s sometimes difficult to please all tastes. Yesterday’s blog posts offered three simple-to-prepare, make-ahead mashed potato recipes to do you proud during holiday family gatherings - but what if friends or family members are lactose-intolerant or allergic to nightshades?
Nightshades are a highly diverse group of vegetables, fruits, and herbs that - in people who are sensitive to them - can inflame the joints and impact the nervous system. I’m neither a doctor nor nutritionist and am unqualified to say much more in that area, so I’ll refer you to a website that to my discerning eye appears balanced and highly informative. Check out:
I say all of that because one of the best-known nightshade plants is the ever-so-innocent looking potato. So, continuing with this week’s focus on Thanksgiving and holiday foods, today’s blog presents a couple of alternatives to potatoes, offering you and your guests a choice.
Although sweet potatoes belong to the same plant order as nightshades, they belong to a different family. Sweet potatoes offer health benefits and are a smart pick for anyone who can’t tolerate potatoes. Once again, read: 
Yams are another delicious alternative to potatoes … but why “yammer”? It’s time to give you three excellent recipes that deserve consideration at your Thanksgiving and holiday tables! As with the potato posts I gave you yesterday, these recipes are all make-ahead!
Sweet Potato and Carrot Crisp:

To Prepare the Sweet Potato-Carrot Purée:

5 large sweet potatoes (about 2-½ lb.)
12 medium carrots (about 2 lb.)
¾ c. orange juice
2 tbsp. liquid honey
2 tbsp. butter or margarine, melted
2 tsp. cinnamon
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
½ tsp. salt
Peel and cut sweet potatoes and carrots into large chunks. Cook, covered, on medium-low heat 20 min. or until tender in large pot of lightly salted water; drain. As sweet potatoes and vegetables cook, combine liquid ingredients, cinnamon, garlic, and salt; set aside. Purée cooked vegetables in food processor, working in batches and adding some of the combined liquid to each batch. Transfer to 13 x 9-in. greased casserole and proceed as Topping instructions direct (I used a slightly smaller baking dish, so heaped the puréed vegetables into it, as the photo below illustrates)
To make ahead: Cover and refrigerate without topping for up to two days. Or cover and freeze up to two weeks, thawing 24 hr. in refrigerator. Either way, let stand 30 min. at room temperature before baking. Serves 10 to 12. 
To Prepare the Topping:
1-½ c. soft bread crumbs, diced into small pieces
½ c. chopped, toasted pecans (see Note)
⅓ c. butter, melted 
1 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
Preheat oven to 350 deg. F. Mix crumbs, pecans, butter, and parsley; sprinkle over potato mixture. Cover sweet potato-carrot casserole with foil and bake 20 min. Uncover; bake 30 min. or until heated through.
- Modified from a recipe in Canadian Living magazine
Note: See Index for How to Toast Nuts.

Cut peeled sweet potatoes and carrots into large chunks

Simmer, covered, at medium-low heat

Combine juice, honey, butter and other ingredients

Purée in food processor; heap into casserole

Add topping and bake - or make ahead!

Now to tackle the dishes! Ron, sweetheart? Ron???

Variation: You’ll turn this casseroles leftovers into a superb cream soup if you skim off the topping and purée the dish - with an equal amount of chicken stock and a generous pinch of dried ginger. Heat on medium-high before serving.

Variation: Sweet Potato and Carrot Soup ... Superb!

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