As a huge fan of sweet potato pie, I’ve always been perplexed by traditional Thanksgiving sweet potato side dishes. Whether it is candied yams or a sweet potato casserole dish, most of the recipes call for a lot of butter, heavy cream, brown sugar, pecans, and sometimes marshmallows. Granted, I love both dishes but have always been confused about why they are so sweet – sometimes sickly sweet. A more honest recipe classification would put these recipes in the dessert category.
I understand the history and nostalgic aspect of preparing a candied yam recipe, especially if it is a Thanksgiving tradition or a family recipe which has been passed down through the generations. But what I don’t understand is why people would want to add a top layer of marshmallows to an already sweet dish. If anyone happens to know the history behind this dish, I would love to hear from you!
I decided to make a Sweet Potato Gratin recipe borrowing certain elements from the traditional side dish offsetting the familiar sweetness with a little bit of saltiness and reducing the amount of sugar. I also use Asian coconut milk to create a fusion of ‘east meets west’ flavors.
I present to you a very simple and flavorful sweet potato dish, which also happens to be vegan. By seasoning thinly sliced sweet potatoes with kosher salt and pepper, followed by spoonfuls of spiced coconut cream sauce, the salty and sweet combination work beautifully. Adding depth to the sauce with a touch of cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, molasses, and curry powder makes for a familiar yet noticeably different type of Thanksgiving side dish. Using a combination of bold spices elevates this sweet potato dish into something special beyond its traditional brown sugar cousin. I would describe this dish as subtle, elegant, and delicious… exactly what a memorable Thanksgiving sweet potato side dish should be!