Savory but Sweet Potato ‘Casserole’

Casserole or Hot Dish? Apparently ‘hot dish’ is the midwestern (particularly MN, SD, and ND) term of anything similar to the more widely termed ‘Casserole’. We prefer ‘casserole’. We just don’t like how ‘hot dish’ sounds (kind of like ‘moist’ <- ugh I cringed typing it) and since our parents aren’t originally from MN they didn’t use the term hot dish much. There are even articles comparing the two online that go into more detail but basically they are supposedly a ‘complete meal’ within themselves as they contain a protein, starch, some sort of liquid and a crust or crusty topping. Essentially, the ‘hot dish’ version seems less healthy (red meat vs. other protein, cream of mushroom vs. stock, etc.).  I don’t know if I’d necessarily call this recipe a casserole or hot dish since it’s really more of a side dish, but it does incorporate three of the four components of a casserole so I thought I’d throw the term out there.

Savory Sweet Potato Casserole

For the first layer:

  • 2 Tablespoons sun dried tomatoes (soaked in 1/3 cup hot water for 10 minutes)
  • 1 package silken tofu (I used mori-nu light)
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon both garlic powder, onion powder
  • 2 Tablespoons Nutritional Yeast
  • 1 Tablespoon Cornstarch
  • 1 Tablespoon Italian Spices

Middle Layer:

  • 2 – 3 small sweet potatoes (about 300 grams)
  • 1/2 cup lentils (I used Westbrae Organic Canned Lentils to save time)

Topping:

  • Daiya Cheddar ‘Cheese’
  • 1/2 – 1 zucchini, sliced in long strips
  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • 1/2 cup sliced bell pepper
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1 cup chopped spinach or other leafy green veggie
  • garlic salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 Tablespoon Nutritional Yeast
  • 3 Tablespoons white cooking wine

– Bake the sweet potatoes in the oven (at 400°) for about 40-45 minutes or in the microwave. Note: You can bake the potatoes with the bottom layer as well, but they will take longer than 30 minutes at 350° (the temperature used for the casserole) so you may want to start them at 400° and then reduce it to 350° when you add the casserole.

If you have already baked the potatoes, preheat the oven to 350°F.

– In a food processor or blender, add all the ingredients for the first layer (including the soaking water for the sun dried tomatoes) and combine, scraping down the sides as necessary. Depending on taste, you can add more spices. Then, spread this layer in a sprayed casserole or other dish (I used a Pyrex bread dish). Bake at 350° for 30 minutes.

– In the processor (you don’t even have to wash it! Yes!) combine the lentils and sweet potato. I left the sweet potato skins on because they were organic and also blended up smoothly, but you can remove them if you wish. After the tofu layer has cooked for 30 minutes, spread the sweet potato layer on top and put the sliced zucchini, 1/2 of the onion, and daiya on top of that. Bake for an additional 20-30 minutes.

If you would like, you can saute’ the onions and zucchini with the other vegetables and add after cooking.

– While the casserole is baking, saute the remaining vegetables (starting with the onion first and then adding the bell pepper, mushrooms and finally the spinach). Season with garlic salt and pepper, to taste as well as the nutritional yeast. Mix in the white wine, allow it to cook until it reduces some (to desired consistency), and top the final casserole once it is cooked.

What do you think?