This recipe is the origin of so many amazing adventures in my life. I recall always disliking Thanksgiving dinner as a child… I didn’t eat meat, I hate stuffing, dry potatoes arg, overcooked brussel sprouts… all bad things. One year my aunt brought to dinner something that changed my life forever… a baked mashed sweet potato dish covered in sugar coated pecans… finally FLAVOR for a holiday meal! I started making it myself as a teenager and really amped up the seasonings, I played with maple coated nut toppings and loved it all. It soon became the dish I always brought to the festive meals… that and the turkey later on, as I would seek out sustainable happy turkey farms and drive for hours and pay top dollar to deliver a raw fresh bird to whom ever was hosting the big family dinner that year, just so I could indulge in turkey and gravy along with my sweet potato pie!
This sweet potato pie dish welcomed me to the world of sharing food with folks, presenting a truly stand out dish and soaking up the oohs and ahhs. From there I was hooked on nourishing people with really tasty foods! Fast forward many years and when I was opening my second bakery and was developing vegan and gluten free recipes I decided one day to plop a couple cups of holiday left over sweet potato pie into the mixer… that moment the famous Pure vegan Sweet Potato Pow cookie was born. Here is a revised version of that killer cookie recipe and a little more of the story, but back to the pie…
This past Thanksgiving we traveled again to the Frasier Valley to spend the holidays with family. I spent most of my time in the kitchen making meals for the crew and put on a full thanksgiving dinner for 15. My sister in law and I ran down the road to buy a fresh lovely turkey from a sweet farm gal, that turkey got the royal treatment; I broke the skin free and rubbed into the meat under the skin a thick layer of herbed butter full of fresh cut sage, parsley and garlic, sea salt and black pepper. I then made a killer brussel sprout and bacon dish that put all of the those grey mushy sprouts of my childhood to shame. The sprouts got seared off in bacon grease and butter then kicked up with lemon and my homemade mustard and cooked until tender, then the local happy smoked bacon chunks I had already fried in onion and garlic all got tossed back in. I spent the morning making cranberry sauce with fresh local cranberries and maple syrup, and my final flavor baked dish for the meal was this spin on my sweet potato pie. Can you believe this same day I also had time to; pick a wagon full of hazelnuts from the back yard, can a batch of my most favorite preserve of all time, balsamic fig spread with the figs we picked the day before, and plan and plant and a small permaculture food forest! 🙂 So much for a “holiday” weekend off the farm!
Sweet Potato Pie Skillet with coconut milk, toasted fresh hazelnuts and dates.
This dish is super flexible and you can taste and play your way through as you see fit.
Start by roasting in a warm oven 3-4 whole sweet potatoes, skin on.
Once they are bubbling and super soft remove and allow to cool and skin. You can bake them a day or two in advance if you like.
In a food processor blend together all the sweet potatoes along with 1 can of coconut milk.
S+P and 1 tsp each: nutmeg, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, and allspice
Pour mixture into a nice baking dish or a cast iron skillet.
If you are lucky enough to have hazelnut trees in your back yard then go harvest and crack about 1 cup worth of nuts. Toast them in a warm oven for about 20 minutes. Then coarsely chop the nuts and using a separate skillet toast over medium heat. Season with salt and chili powder, when the nuts are dark and smell lovely add a dollop of maple syrup and toss quickly, remove from heat add one last fine sprinkle of sea salt and allow to cool.
Chop up about 1 cup of dates, and combine dates with nuts and cover the top of the sweet potato puree.
Bake the skillet for about 30 minutes at about 300-350.
Serve and enjoy.