Monday, March 06, 2006

coconut mashed sweet potatoes

I never thought I'd say this, but I learned a great trick for sweet potatoes from a vegan restaurant we ate at Saturday night. I like vegetarian food -- I tend to go meatless a lot of the time, and probably would even if Mark weren't a vegetarian -- but I am deeply suspicious of vegan cuisine. Seriously, who can voluntarily deny the joys of dairy? Not I. Right or wrong, I tend to think of vegan cooking as a series of dour, humorless compromises for the real thing. But I had a pretty good meal Saturday night. I think it was good because it didn't try to be a vegan version of something else.

Anyway, we met some friends for dinner at Real Food Daily in Santa Monica. I ordered one of the specials: pecan-and-cornmeal-crusted tempeh with black bean sauce and mango salsa, garlicky green beans, and coconut mashed sweet potatoes. It was all very tasty, but for me, the sweet potatoes were the star.

In fact, I tried to replicate it today and I think I came fairly close. Try this sometime -- it's delicious. I baked and mashed some sweet potatoes and then skimmed the cream off the top of a can of coconut milk and added that (plus a little salt and pepper) until the taste and texture was what I wanted. Don't shake the can -- just add the creamy part that rises to the top. That way, you get the right amount of coconut flavor without adding too much liquid and making the potatoes too runny. I also grated some orange zest and added that. (A little goes farther than you'd think.)


Blogger Sarah said...

I agree. Veganism makes me sad.

However....a few months ago some uber-healthy friends offered to bring dessert to a dinner party. They showed up with a cheesecake and a key lime pie, which we all dug into with hearty abandon, ooh-ing and ahh-ing over the creaminess. Guess what? Turns out the desserts were vegan, courtesy of Watercourse Foods, a vegetarian diner in Denver attached to a vegan bakery. I think that if our guests had not announced that the creaminess was courtesy of silken tofu, no one would have realized that the desserts were vegan!

Visit the restaurant at

7:48 PM  

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