Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Carribean Sweet Potato Black Bean Gratin

I made this sweet potato gratin last week for the second time, and it again was really delicious.  It's from one of my favorite cookbooks, Moosewood Restaurant New Classics, which I find often has recipes that are interesting and delicious without being needlessly complicated - it's a good, solid everyday cookbook.  This dish actually took me a while to assemble but that also could be because I didn't have canned beans on hand so I cooked some in the pressure cooker, I had to pick the spinach and thyme from the garden, and I was just generally moving at a slow pace.  In any case, it is worth the effort.  I often make black bean and sweet potato dishes with southwestern flavor combinations, which I love, but the flavors in this dish are a welcome departure - sweet from the coconut and lime, but with an earthiness from the spinach and thyme - it really does taste carribean.  I couldn't quite think what to serve it with so we just had a salad but if you had time and wanted to make it more special I think fried plantains would be a great accompaniment!

Pottery note - the plate above is one that I made a few years ago, it has a simple carved design on the flange that I really like and a deep green glaze.  It doesn't match any of the other dishes we have which actually makes me like it even more.

Carribean Sweet Potato Black Bean Gratin
Adapted from Moosewood Restaurant New Classics
  • 1 garlic clove, minced or pressed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly grated lime zest (about 1 lime)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (about 1 lime)
  • 2-3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried or chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 1/2 cups light coconut milk (about 1 1/2 cans)
  • 4 cups peeled and thinly sliced sweet potatoes
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked black beans (1 can, drained)
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh spinach, thinly chopped

For the topping:
  • 3/4 cup cornmeal
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried or fresh chopped thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Combine the garlic, lime zest and juice, herbs, salt and pepper and coconut milk in a measuring cup.  Pour a third of this mixture into a lightly oiled 9 x 13" baking pan.  Put half of the sweet potatoes in a layer on the bottom of the pan, followed by half of the rice, half of the beans, and half of the spinach.  Pour in another third of the coconut milk mixture and repeat the other layers.  Pour all the remaining coconut milk on top. 

Preheat oven to 350.  Mix together all the topping ingredients in a small bowl and distribute evenly over the top of the gratin.  Bake uncovered for about an hour, rotating the pan halfway through.  When topping begins to brown and the sweet potatoes are tender, remove and let cool for 3-5 minutes before serving.

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