Super Bowl Sunday for me this year doubled as a Thanksgiving Redux dinner. I realized later that I haven't watched more than 10 minutes of a Super Bowl game since 2004, and haven't attended a Super Bowl-related party since 2002. I'm attributing this more to my short attention span than to my disdain for football, since I also haven't sat through a non-Bruce Willis movie in about a year. But it turns out that I wasn't missing much since NFL football is still terrifically long and slow with no real display of athleticism or sportsmanship. Even the ads were dreadful. Debate amongst yourselves.
Anyway, thankfully there were literally 50 different things to eat which kept me occupied until at least halftime. My contributions were this fantastic sweet potato casserole, which I've made for a few November Thanksgivings now, and also a cauliflower sort-of souffle based on a Fine Cooking recipe which was also delicious but kind of eggy and requires more tinkering.
I first made this a few years ago using 101 Cookbooks as a guide in an effort to add some healthfulness and flavor to a family recipe, and I vastly prefer this version over the kind with butter and brown sugar. This time around I made it a little more crowd-friendly in a 9" x 13" pan with more topping. The basic ginger-coconut-sweet potato flavor profile is kept the same, though with some significant changes to the ingredient ratios. For a real time-saver, roast your sweet potatoes off the night before.
The key here is tasting the potato mixture as you go and making sure everything balances out to your liking before you top it and chuck it in the oven. Pretend you're just eating whipped sweet potatoes as a side, and then just imagine it tasting way better with a crunchy nut topping.
Coconut and Ginger Sweet Potato Casserole
Adapted from 101 Cookbooks
Makes one 9" x 13" dish (roughly 10-12 servings)
Total time: 1 1/2 - 2 hours (Active time 15 minutes)
- 4-5 large sweet potatoes (about 4 pounds)
- 1 cup lite coconut milk
- 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh ginger, grated
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup or brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2/3 cup raw, unsweetened, grated coconut
- 2 tablespoons olive oil or butter, melted (optional, adds richness but not necessary)
- 2/3 cup chopped nuts (I like pecans)
Preheat oven to 350F. Place sweet potatoes in a roasting pan and cover with foil. Roast 60-90 minutes, or until a knife can easily slide through the thickest potato (it's helpful to roll them over in the pan halfway through cooking).
If finishing immediately, remove the pan from the oven and take off the foil. Split the top peel of each potato to speed cooling. If not using right away, the sweet potatoes will be fine left out overnight to cool.
Once sweet potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut them in half and scrape out the flesh with a fork into a large mixing bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer). Mash with coconut milk, or use the flat beater attachment of a stand mixer for a few minutes on low speed until thoroughly combined. Add ginger, maple syrup or brown sugar, and salt and stir to combine. Taste the mixture after it's been sitting for a few minutes and reseason if necessary.
Transfer the sweet potato mixture into an oiled 9" x 13" pan using a spatula or spoon. Sprinkle chopped nuts and coconut on top and drizzle on olive oil or melted butter, if using. Bake at 350F for 30-40 minutes until the dish is heated through and the coconut and nuts are very lightly browned (watch carefully to make sure the topping doesn't burn).