Oh my. OH MY. Oh my oh my OH MY. This lovely orange-hued sweet potato dish nearly didn't make it into the oven, I wanted to scoop it straight out of the dish with a spoon and into -- well, my mouth. It half reminded me of a warm smoothie -- in fact, honestly, I think sweet potatoes and bananas mixed with milk in a blender would make one terrific smoothie. Did I say this stuff is good?
BUDGET IDEA The inspiring recipe called for butter-toasted almonds on the top. To save a few calories and some expense, I opted for a topping mix of whole-grain dry bread crumbs (panko would work too) and a few nuts. It was a good call, since the sweet potatoes themselves taste quite rich -- an all-nut topping would be gilding the lily.
SWEET POTATO & BANANA PURÉE
Time to table: 1 hour
Makes about 4 cups
3 pounds sweet potatoes (about four large sweet potatoes), peeled and cut into roughly equal sized pieces
3 ripe bananas
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons rum
1 tablespoon brown sugar
Freshly ground nutmeg to taste
Kosher salt to taste
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
4 tablespoons whole-grain bread crumbs
2 tablespoons toasted walnuts
Prep the sweet potatoes and transfer to a large pot, add water to barely cover. Cover and bring to a boil, let cook until the potatoes are soft, about 20 minutes. Drain.
When the potatoes are nearly cooked, puree the bananas in a food processor. Add the hot sweet potatoes, butter, rum and brown sugar. Add nutmeg and salt to taste. Transfer to a lightly greased baking dish.
TOPPING In a small skillet, melt the butter on MEDIUM HIGH. Stir in the bread crumbs and walnuts, let cook until aromatic and just beginning to darken. Arrange evenly atop the sweet potatoes. Serve immediately.
TO PREP AHEAD
DAY BEFORE Cook and mix the sweet potatoes, transfer to a buttered baking dish, cover and refrigerate. Mix the topping but do not put onto the casserole.
BEFORE DINNER Return to room temperature, allow a couple of hours. Spoon topping evenly over the top, bake at 350F for about 30 minutes or until heated well through.
When made ahead, the top layer of the casserole turns brown in the refrigerator. It's not unpleasant looking (you can see the difference in the photo) and flavor isn't affected. But it does mean that the lovely orange color is lost, at least on top.
Be sure that the bananas are really ripe, the skins entirely brown to plan on letting the bananas ripen for a week or even more. That said, grocery stores often sell ripe bananas (for less!) so that will provide two or three days head start.
Three bananas makes this more 'banana tasting' than 'sweet potato' tasting which may be wonderful for kids and those who aren't so fond of vegetables but bothersome for those who really love the taste of sweet potatoes. If so, use one or two bananas rather than three.
Make-ahead casseroles like those that work so well for Thanksgiving will heat more quickly and evenly if they're in shallow baking dishes and if they've been brought to room temperature before going into the oven.
My sense is that this is rich enough that at big meals with plenty of other offerings, it will serve more than 16 although with smaller servings.
featured in 2006
~ Maple Ginger Sweet Potatoes ~
featured in 2007
~ Fresh Candied Yams ~
~ Sweet Potato Casserole ~
~ more sweet potato recipes ~
~ more purées & mashes ~
~ Thanksgiving Vegetable Recipes 2008 ~
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