Curried Sweet Potato Dip

Noticing my last post was a sweet potato pie recipe, you might be inclined whisper redundant under your breath and run away. Well, not only would that be a little weird of you, but you would also miss out on this great dip you could share with your new found (or age-old) friends.  Friendship and sweet potatoes: two vital components of a well-lived life.

Since starting the dietetics program at Mount Mary last fall, I’ve been steeped in fascinating nutrition knowledge and surrounded by a strong, smart, diverse group of women. I’ve had the privilege to get to know some of these ladies as friends and on Saturday, we celebrated life, food, and friendship.  We brought dishes to share and sipped (gulped?) wine, started a book club, and mulled over life’s big and little questions.  If you would have told me a year ago I’d be writing those words now, about new friends and all, I might not have believed you.  I’ve never been the most gifted friend-maker, and I know a lot of us say that, but anyway, it’s been a blessing, and that is all.

I brought this smooth, spicy, sweet potato dip accompanied by sliced radishes and blue corn tortilla chips.  Whole grain crackers or flatbread would also work quite nicely.  If you leave out the curry powder and swap in some cinnamon, I’d imagine graham crackers would be an excellent dipping vehicle as well.

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So, I changed it some: chickpeas for white beans, more olive oil, no feta, add garlic and cayenne pepper, but I owe the blog Mary Not Martha for the soul of this dip. Topping it with pepitas was a game changer. Thanks for the inspiration ladies!

You can use a blender, immersion blender or food processor to bring this dip together.  If you don’t have any of these, you can whip up a slightly more rustic version by just mashing with a potato masher.

Ingredients:

3 large sweet potatoes

½ cup olive oil, plus as added for thinning dip

1 cup cooked chickpeas

1 Tbsp fresh curry powder (I used Penzey’s Hot Curry Powder)

½ Tbsp garlic, minced or pasted

¼ tsp cayenne pepper

coarse salt and pepitas (green pumpkin seeds) for sprinkling

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Method:

Preheat oven to 450°.  While it warms up, wash sweet potatoes and wrap them in aluminum foil, then place directly on the middle rack and roast for an hour, or until very tender, like borderline mushy.

Let sweet potatoes cool, then remove from foil and working over a large bowl, or food processor, peel away skins, letting the orange flesh slide lusciously into the bowl below.  Mash the flesh with a fork to get out any significant lumps.

Now, add the olive oil, chickpeas, curry powder, garlic, and cayenne, blend with your appliance of choice.  If dip is too thick, add more olive oil.  You’re looking for a consistency around that of a hearty hummus.  Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed.

Spoon dip into your serving bowl of choice.  Sprinkle with coarse salt, pepitas (green pumpkin seeds), and more cayenne pepper just before digging in.

Leftovers will last a solid week in the ol’ fridge.

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Sweet Potato Pie with Creamy Vanilla Swirl, People!

Just as there are dog people and cat people, there are most definitely pie people and cake people.  I’d say most dog people are pie people, and many cat people are cake people, but let’s not get into it, okay?  I am both a dog and pie person, but I think even cat-loving cake people will enjoy this pie.

I whipped this baby up for a family get-together during the Christmas season.  It went over swimmingly, with only an enigmatic trapezoid-shaped slice left at the end.  For the love of my GF aunt, it’s wheat-free and the crust is made of (GF) gingersnaps!  Daintily swirled with vanilla scented cream cheese and permeated with soul-warming spices, this pie offers melt in your mouth comfort but doesn’t weigh you down like that slice of triple chocolate cheesecake you wish you hadn’t had.  Beckoning you with loads of vitamin A and antioxidant-laden spices, this is the kind of pie you may have to have a second slice of.

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I came across the recipe in Eating Well magazine, this year’s holiday issue to be exact, which I promptly plastered with post-it notes because ALL the recipes looked amazing.  Aside from this pie, I also made an awesome quinoa & beet salad they featured in a section on ancient grains (pictured below).  The process is simpler if you have a food processor or blender. If not, I’d reluctantly suggest buying canned sweet potato, or better yet, go to Goodwill and hunt down a secondhand blending appliance!  I ❤ my immersion blender.

I adapted this recipe from Eating Well.  I changed a few things, first switching out traditional store-bought gingersnaps for gluten free ones (Mi-Del brand are awesome; try not to eat them all before you make the pie).  I also substituted European-style yogurt for the called-for vanilla Greek variety, (it’s what I had in the fridge and was an easy way cut out some of the added sugar) and then added a teaspoon of vanilla extract. I made the crust with coconut oil instead of canola and bumped up the spices a couple notches.  The sweet potatoes should be roasted in the oven, but can surely be microwaved in a pinch.

Go on, have your pie, and eat it too!

Sweet Potato Pie with Creamy Vanilla Swirl

Prep: 40 minutes              Cooking & cooling time: 4 ½ hours

Serves: however many slices you cut it into : )

Ingredients:

2 medium-large sweet potatoes

6 ounces crispy, gluten free (Mi-del brand) gingersnap cookies (26-28 small cookies)

2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted

3/4 cup packed light brown sugar

3/4 cup plain (European-style or Greek) yogurt , divided

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 large eggs

1 large egg yolk

1 ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

¼ teaspoon allspice

1/4  cup (2 ounces) reduced-fat cream cheese (Neufchâtel)

3 tablespoons powdered sugar

3/4 teaspoon ground ginger

Method:

Preheat oven to 450°F.

Wrap sweet potatoes in foil and place on a baking sheet. Roast until very tender (test with fork), about an hour. Carefully unwrap and set aside to cool.

Reduce oven temperature to 350°.

Process gingersnaps in a food processor until finely ground. Transfer to a bowl, add coconut oil and stir until well combined.

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Using your fingers, spread and pat the crumbs into the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch pie pan.

Bake until just barely beginning to darken and your kitchen smells like a gingerbread man’s butthole, about 10 minutes.

Wipe out the food processor workbowl of any lingering gingersnap crumbs.

Peel the sweet potatoes and transfer to the food processor. Puree until smooth, then measure out 1 ½ cups of sweet potato (if you have extra puree, reserve it for another use or eat it, NOW). Return the 1 ½ cups puree to the food processor and add brown sugar, 1/2 cup of the yogurt, eggs, egg yolk, cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice; pulse just until combined.

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Pour the sweet potato filling into the (possibly still warm) crust and spread to distribute evenly.

Clean and dry the workbowl.  Add the remaining 1/4 cup yogurt, vanilla extract, Neufchâtel cream cheese, powdered sugar and ginger.  Puree until smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides as needed.

Now, the fun part(!!!)  Plop tablespoonfuls of the cream cheese mixture onto the sweet potato filling, spacing them evenly. Draw the tip of a wooden skewer or a butter knife through the cream cheese mixture and sweet potato filling repeatedly to create a whimsical swirled design.

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Bake the pie until firm to the touch and starting to puff around the edges, 45 to 50 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack, at least 2 hours.  Cracks may occur, don’t cry; you’re about to experience heaven… in pie form.  Now go adopt a Weimaraner and call it a day.

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And here, the lovely ruby-hued quinoa & beet salad:

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