Saturday, June 4, 2011

Curried Sweet Potato Pie with Veggie Crust

Whenever I am stuck for what to make myself for dinner, I always default to a 'vegetable medley' (as I like to refer to it).  I chop up whatever veggies my fridge and pantry have to offer, throw them in a skillet, saute them up, season it somehow, probably add some vinegar or citrus juice in the end, an herb of some sort, and voila, dinner in a bowl.  Thrilling, I know.

But it's always good to make sure veggies make it onto your meal plate, and the more often they appear as a starring role the better.  I like to incorporate spinach whenever I can, or whichever hearty green for that matter, since they are packed with nutrients.  Adding a starch adds a nice balance, and sweet potatoes are bursting with color, flavor, and not to mention Vitamin A, C, E, iron, and beta carotene.  These are two of my 'go-to's' for Vegetable Medleys, and I am always trying to find ways to spice them up.

That's why I became so excited as I was looking over a friend's collection of Moosewood Cookbooks one day and saw their different flavor combinations and applications of certain wholesome ingredients.  After piecing different ideas together, I came up with this Curried Sweet Potato Pie with a Veggie Crust recipe concoction.  It takes a Vegetable Medley from a mundane saute to a sophisticated dish without much more effort, but lightyears more satisfaction.

The curry pairs beautifully with the sweetness of the sweet potato, and the creaminess of the coconut milk adds body and just enough richness to the filling, along with the two eggs that make it part-souffle.  The fresh lime juice adds the necessary brightness to it all, and the toppings of what will come out as toasted pecans and coconut flakes just put it over the top.  And the crust?  Earthy spinach, carrot, and parsnip, ground the spicy and exotic filling so well that you'll never miss a buttery crust of a quiche.

This dish is so incredibly flavorful and satisfying, you'll never think of it as 'just vegetables'.

Curried Sweet Potato Pie with Veggie Crust


1 3/4 lb sweet potatoes
1/3 lb green beans, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1-2 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup chopped leeks
1/2 cup diced Anaheim chiles
2 teaspoons curry powder
1 1/4 tsp salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup fresh lime juice (juice of one big lime)
1 Veggie Crust, baked (recipe below)
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup chopped pecans
3 tablespoons shredded unsweetened coconut
Minced scallion or chives for garnish


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Roughly chop the sweet potatoes into large chunks (peel them first if you desire, though I never do).  Place them in a large pot and cover with water.  Bring to a boil and cook until very soft, then drain and place in a medium sized bowl.  Mash well and set aside.

Cook the green beans for 1 minute in boiling salted water until bright green.  Drain and run them under very cold water or place in a bowl full of water and ice to maintain their color and crunch.  Set aside.

Meanwhile, melt butter in a skillet over medium heat.  Add the leeks and cook until wilted, about 5 minutes.  Add the Anaheim peppers, curry, and salt and cook for another 5 minutes.  Add to sweet potatoes.

Beat together the eggs and coconut milk.  Add this to the sweet potato mixture, along with the green beans.  Add the fresh lime juice, and salt and pepper to taste.  Mix well, and spread the filling evenly over the cooked veggie pie crust.

Bake for 30 minutes, then sprinkle with the chopped pecans and coconut if desired.  Bake for an additional 15 minutes after adding the toppings.  Once out of the oven, sprinkle with a garnish of thinly sliced scallions.  Serves 4-5.

Veggie Crust


2 ten-ounce packages of frozen spinach, thawed
3/4 cup grated carrot
3/4 cup grated parsnip
1/3 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
dash of nutmeg


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Grease a 9- or 10- inch pie pan, or equivalent baking vessel.

Squeeze out all of the excess water from the spinach.  Transfer to a medium bowl and add remaining ingredients.  Mix well.

Transfer veggie mixture to the pie pan and push the mixture onto the sides and bottom of the dish to form a crust shape (fingers or spoon or fork work well).

Bake for 40 minutes, brushing the crust with oil or melted butter half way through the baking time.  You do not need to cool the crust before filling it.