Ideas lurk everywhere. The other day I was at my son's classmate's house after school as the kids wanted to play and I was hanging around in the kitchen with the parents, drinking tea and chatting up. The dad was preparing an early dinner and one of the dishes was a savoury starchy bake using potatoes and sweet potatoes. I'm not a big fan of sweet potatoes, but I've always loved the Tamil style sweet potato stir fry curry with sambar-rice or in desserts (yes, brownies!) or randomly in some other dishes. I find that sweet potatoes that we get here need a lot of flavour boost to taste great.
This time, I wanted to try out a savoury bake with them. I had noticed our friend preparing a kind of béchamel sauce to go on top of the layered sweet potatoes, topped with cheese. But since we had no cheese at home, I had to improvise with something else. And that's how the peanut crumb happened. It did provide a fantastic texture to the otherwise melty dish, not to mention upping the protein content of the dish.
Recipe for Savoury Sweet Potato Bake
2 medium sized sweet potatoes
1/2 cup fresh or frozen green peas
2 cups milk
1 tbsp butter
1.5 tbsp flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp dried rosemary, crushed
1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
1-2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup roasted peanuts, skins removed (you could use ready available roasted salted peanuts too)
- Preheat oven at 180 C.
- In a large pan, bring 2 litres water to a boil with 1 tsp salt.
- In a mixer / food processor pulse the peanuts till coarsely crumbed.
- Meanwhile, scrub the sweet potatoes well with a scrubber and lots of water to remove all the soil. Do not peel. Finely slice them, and add them to the boiling water. Add the peas too.
- Check in 4 minutes, if they are partially cooked. If yes, drain the water in a colander and keep aside the veggies.
- In a saucepan, heat butter. Add flour and make a 'roux' until all the flour is absorbed in the butter and turns lightly aromatic. Add the milk with constant whisking. If a few lumps remain, it's okay with this dish. Add the salt, dried rosemary, pepper and nutmeg.
- Lightly grease a mid-sized baking dish. Place the partly cooked sweet potato slices and peas, gently flattening them down. Sprinkle some pepper over the top.
- Add the sauce, lightly smoothening it out with a spatula.
- Top with peanut crumbs.
- Place in the middle of the oven for 30 minutes or so.
- Serve warm with a salad or a soup.
Feel free to try with other vegetables, similarly sliced - eg: Potatoes, carrots, turnips etc.
If you wish, you could add chilli flakes or chopped chipotle chillies to make this dish spicier. This recipe turns out reasonably seasoned but not spicy at all, suitable for kids of all ages.
You could substitute the peanut crumb with a mix of bread crumbs and grated cheddar. I'm sure that tastes better :)
Leftovers can be warmed in the microwave for 30 seconds and had the following day.
Like what you see here? Follow my Facebook Page. I promise that it's updated much more regularly than my blog with engaging content on food, nutrition and food news and a lot more insights into my kitchen.
The first picture is also my submission to the Food Photo Contest being run by the most awesome Town Essentials from whom we get most of our vegetables, groceries and other home supplies. If you are in Bangalore, you MUST try their service at least once. It's a fantastic experience to be able to shop for stuff at 5 am sitting under the quilt and knowing that you'll get the freshest produce delivered later that evening.