Happy Monday from the snowy Midwest!
As predicted, the flurries started flying around 2pm on Friday and didn’t stop all night long. My Mom and I were supposed to go on our annual Mall of America Christmas shopping trip this weekend, but northern Iowa got even more snow than we did and neither of us wanted to kick off girl’s weekend by having to call a tow truck from the side of the interstate. It was just as well since Ben and I haven’t both been home on a weekend in over a month, and it was good to spend a couple relaxing days together. A couple, relaxing SNOWY days together! We woke up to 6+” on Saturday morning and as soon as he saw it, this little turkey couldn’t wait to get outside!
After running a few errands we bundled up then headed to my parent’s house to spend the day. The Hawkeyes – who are now 11-0! – were on at 11am, and it’s always more fun cheering them on with family. Oh! If you follow me on Snapchat (@iowagirleats) then you saw I made everyone a Maple Bourbon Cocktail from last week’s Friday Favorites at half time. Verdict? Strong, but, gooooood. Before kickoff, Ben and Lincoln played outside until their cheeks were red as tomatoes while I sat fireside. The first snow is pretty to look at but I make no bones about being a cold weather wimp!
On Sunday morning we took Lincoln to see Santa’s Wonderland at Bass Pro Shop. I was envisioning a memorable, magical morning but misread the website and arrived an hour and a half before Santa was slated to make his grand entrance, presumably via Gator. My bad! By the time we hit up the indoor aquarium, toy section, and Wonderland twice, only 27 minutes had passed, so we bailed and went to Monterrey instead. Story of our lives… ;)
This weekend I also put the finishing touches on my Skinny Sweet Potato Gratin, just in time for Thanksgiving!
Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been testing multi-batches of my Gluten-Free Party Potatoes Deluxe, Roasted Poblano and Sausage Breakfast Casserole, Sour Cream and Dill Mashed Potatoes, plus a few other dishes for freelance work, and have been feeling extremely weighed down and indulged out. Blech. Craving something light and healthy for Thanksgiving, I made this low-fat, full-flavored, gluten and dairy-free Skinny Sweet Potato Gratin side dish for your holiday table!
Mashed potatoes are a staple at Thanksgiving, of course, but sweet potatoes have their place too. My Mother-in-Law LOVES sweet potatoes and always has a small mashed dish of them at Thanksgiving for her and me to eat. I had her in mind when making this layered dish using the bright and colorful veggie.
Usually gratins are made by layering sliced vegetables with heavy cream and cheese, but I kept the concept of layering and nixed all the heavy stuff. Sliced sweet potatoes sandwiching a layer of herbalicious caramelized onions are drizzled with a creamy sauce made from ALMOND MILK (or cow’s milk, if you feel more comfortable!) then blanketed under a crispy, crunchy, gluten-free bread crumb topping and baked.
Sweet, savory, creamy, crunchy – this gratin has all the flavor of a decadent-tasting, diet-busting holiday dish yet is low in fat, and a dish you can take seconds of totally guilt free. Indulging in buttery, cheesy side dishes at Thanksgiving is something I always look forward to, but it’s nice to have a healthy ally at the table!
Start by making the caramelized herbed onions that are spread between layers of tender sweet potato in the gratin. That’s just sweet onions sauteed with dried thyme, fresh sage, minced garlic, salt, and pepper until sweet and caramelized. Easy and so flavorful.
To the caramelized onions, add 1 cup milk then stir to combine. Most gratin recipes call for heavy cream or half and half but this recipe tastes just as decadent and is made with unsweetened almond milk! If you want to use cow’s milk, I recommend using 2% or higher milk fat.
Season the milk with plenty of salt and pepper then simmer until the sauce is just slightly reduced, 2-3 minutes, and set aside.
Meanwhile, get your sweet potatoes prepped. You’ll need 3lb sweet potatoes that have been scrubbed then peeled. Try and buy sweet potatoes that are all generally the same size in diameter so they’ll cook evenly in the gratin.
Next slice the sweet potatoes into 1/4″ slices. I used the slicing blade of my food processor to get perfectly uniform slices, though you could use a mandoline, or a very sharp knife.
If you’re still trying to decide if you want to make room for a food processor in your kitchen, slicing foods lickity split is reason enough for me. It took all of 45 seconds to slice 3lbs of sweet potatoes!
Here’s the food processor I have!
Spray the bottom of a 9×13″ baking dish with nonstick spray then line half the sweet potatoes into tight, overlapping lines in the bottom of the dish, and then season generously with salt and pepper.
Using a slotted spoon strain the caramelized onions from the milk then spread on top of the sweet potatoes. Layer the remaining sweet potatoes on top, season again with salt and pepper, then drizzle the remaining milk over the top. It will feel like there’s not enough sauce, but it’s ok!
Cover the baking dish with foil then bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove the foil then bake for another 15 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the sweet potatoes goes in fairly easy. You don’t want the potatoes to be mushy or too soft at this point, but if they’re still hard, keep baking for another 5-7 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the crunchy gluten-free bread crumb topping – my favorite part! You’ll need 3/4 cup fresh gluten-free bread crumbs which I made by pulsing 3 slices of GF bread in a mini food processor. If you don’t need to eat GF, you can just use regular bread. Letting the bread slices sit out for an hour or even overnight will help make it easier to grind into course crumbs.
Add the breadcrumbs to a skillet with 1 Tablespoon butter or Earth Balance Vegan Butter (to keep the dish dairy-free,) 1 Tablespoon minced sage, and a pinch of salt, then toast until golden brown. Let the mixture cool slightly than pour into a bowl and mix in 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese (skip if dairy-free.)
Top the sweet potatoes with the bread crumb topping then bake for another 10-15 minutes or until the sweet potatoes are tender and the breadcrumbs are golden brown. Let sit for 10 minutes to thicken up, then slice and serve!
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Skinny Sweet Potato Gratin
Skinny Sweet Potato Gratin tastes decadent yet is light, healthy, gluten-free and easily made dairy-free. A great swap for heavy, cream-laden holiday dishes!
- 1 Tablespoon butter or Earth Balance Vegan Butter
- 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 jumbo sweet onion, chopped
- 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 Tablespoons minced fresh sage
- 1 cup unsweetened almond milk (use 2% or higher if using cow's milk)
- salt and pepper
- 3lb sweet potatoes (about 4 medium,) similar in diameter, sliced 1/4" thick
- For the bread crumb topping:
- 1 Tablespoon butter or Earth Balance Vegan Butter
- 1 Tablespoon minced fresh sage
- 3/4 cup fresh gluten-free bread crumbs (made from 3 slices GF bread)
- 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese (omit if dairy-free)
- Melt butter and extra virgin olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions, season lightly with salt, then saute until starting to become tender, 10 minutes. Add dried thyme then continue to saute until onions are very tender and slightly caramelized, 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic and sage then saute until garlic is fragrant, 2-3 minutes.
- Add milk to the skillet, season generously with salt and pepper, then turn heat up to bring mixture to a bubble. Turn heat back down to medium then simmer until milk is just slightly thickened, 2-3 minutes (don't over-reduce.) Set aside.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees then spray a 9x13" baking dish with nonstick spray. Layer half the sweet potatoes in tight rows in the bottom then season with salt and pepper. Using a slotted spoon, strain the onions from the milk then scoop onto potatoes and spread into an even layer. Top with remaining potatoes, season with salt and pepper, then drizzle reserved sauce on top (there won't be much.) Cover dish with foil then bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil then bake for 15 more minutes. Potatoes should be crisp tender when inserting a knife into them - if they're still hard, bake for another 5 minutes.
- For the bread crumb topping: Rinse then dry skillet used for sauce then place over medium-heat. Melt butter then add sage, bread crumbs, and a little salt. Saute until lightly toasted them add to a bowl and, once slightly cooled, stir in parmesan cheese (if using.)
- Sprinkle bread crumb mixture on top of sweet potatoes then bake for an additional 10-15 minutes or until bread crumbs are evenly toasted and sauce is bubbly. Let dish sit for 10 minutes then serve.
- Use the slicing blade on your food processor or a mandolin to get even 1/4" slices of sweet potato.
This recipe is courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats, http://iowagirleats.com.
Perfectly, naturally sweet with a delectable caramelized onion layer, and savory herb and bread crumb topping – Mmm, mmm, MMM! Healthy Thanksgiving side dishes do not get better than this. I hope you enjoy!