Vegan Thanksgiving sweet potato pies, coming right up! Just the right size to satisfy your sweeth tooth, these are a great way to end the day on a healthy, happy note.
Have you ever played hot potato? Don’t worry, me either. The closest I got was at birthday parties, when we’d all sit in a circle and pass around a bundle of newspaper containing little prizes. Little voices chanting, “we pass the ball around, around and around, and when the little ball stops, you… are… out” marked the rhythm. Whoever held the package at the end of the tune got to unwrap one layer of newspaper and keep whatever they found hidden inside. It made losing feel a heck of a lot more like winning.
Another thing that feels like winning– a recipe experiment that goes more right than you thought possible, despite the fact that you had to stop before you were certain it was ready because it was time for class. The scales aren’t always obvious when it comes to class versus cooking, especially when sweet potatoes and dates are involved.
Not to mention that this is your chance to go around asking people, “Hi, would you like a nutty date?” The responses are almost guaranteed to be gold.
Maybe this really is more of a recent trend, but I can’t remember having sweet potatoes as anything other than a savory dish as a kid. It was a vegetable, therefore it fell into the “meat and potatoes” category that is all things not sweet. Oh, well, actually, there was that one time a family friend made sweet potatoes topped with marshmallows. That was an interesting and mind-boggling experience. My childish mind didn’t know what to do with the sweet and gooey concoction on my plate; I’m pretty sure I just timidly nibbled at it. Not my proudest moment, but frankly not my favorite combination either.
Now, though, I’ve come to appreciate sweet potatoes for what they are, aka is the perfect combination of sexy and cute, I mean, savory and sweet. (Whoops. It was just too great a chance to quote the movie Valentine’s Day to pass up. Extra Sweet Potato Pie Bite if you got the reference.)
Point is, though, that this vegetable’s versatility is drastically overlooked as we continue to beat it into the same dishes over and over again. Talk about overworked and underpaid. Thankfully people are getting more creative. In case you fell behind on the times (would not be my first time, that’s for sure), sweet potato toasts are still taking the Internet by storm. Buzzfeed compiled a list of 9 varieties, and even the Food Network got in on the act.
In honor of the theme of the month, I put my noodle to the test, trying to add one more role to our familiar sweet potato’s lengthening resume. The final verdict? Definitely something to be grateful for.
After fretting over the impending battle between you and a turkey, I’m sure you need something simple to make for dessert. We don’t want you to grab something off the grocery store shelves from sheer exhaustion at the thought of tackling yet another complicated recipe while also juggling family and friends joining you. Besides, you know that everyone is too stuffed to truly appreciate the hard work you put into dessert, even though they eat it anyway.
This year, we’re going to smart about it. Instead of slaving away and then ending up with way too many tantalizing leftovers to be good for anyone’s willpower, we’re creating Sweet Potato Pie Bites! Like Goldilocks said once upon a time, these are just right.
Do you remember baking these Mini Chocolate Pecan Cupcakes? You must, since I can hear your stomach rumbling from here, but I promise, there are delicious treats on the way. Just hang tight for a little while longer, buddy. You can do it! Once you have a handle on the cravings, dust off the mini muffin (cupcake? we never did find an answer to that debate) pan.
This is far from your typical pie, though. Instead of flour and sugar, nuts and dates form these little crusts. Just be sure to wash your hands first, because it’s quite a hands-on process. On the bright side, no eggs means… no second thoughts about licking your fingers after!
Although, let’s be real, I do that anyway. Ain’t no shame in playing the game.
But wait, there’s more! It’s time to drool over the pie filling, sort of like sweet potato mousse. I’d be happy even just spooning it out of a cup, even though it’s certainly cuter in our miniature pie crusts. It keeps it’s soft texture even after baking, because there’s no egg or flour to thicken it up like normal pie. Truthfully, I think that you might even be okay not baking your pies at all. Rather, chill the crusts in the fridge for at least 10 minutes, or until the filling is ready, and then chill again for another 15-20 minutes once assembly is complete. The sweet potato is already cooked from the steaming, and there’s nothing else you can’t eat raw.
If anyone tries it raw, leave a comment about how the experiment went!
For now, the oven’s already been on all day; one last dish can’t hurt.
If you try this recipe, I’d love your feedback. Leave a comment below, save it on Pinterest, or tag #lensesandlentils on Instagram to share!
- FOR THE CRUST:
- 1¼ cups medjool dates*
- ½ cup pecans
- ½ cup almonds
- 1 tbsp chia seeds
- ¼ tsp salt
- FOR THE FILLING:
- 1 large sweet potato
- 1 tbsp unsweetened almond milk**
- 1 tsp maple syrup
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- ¼ tsp pure vanilla extract***
- Steam the sweet potato in a pot for about 20-30 minutes, or until soft enough to pierce easily with a knife.
- Meanwhile, combine all ingredients for the crust in a food processor or high-powered blender. Process until the dates and nuts are broken down into small pieces, but not pureed. It will form a sticky ball of 'dough,' about 5-7 minutes. Scrape down the sides as necessary.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil a mini cupcake tin.
- Press the crust into the tin, lining the bottoms and pushing it a little bit up the sides of 16 spaces. Reserve some dough for crumbling on top.
- Once the sweet potato is soft and slightly cooled, peel off the skin. Then, puree it with the remaining ingredients for the filling.
- Divide evenly between the 16 crusts. Top with the remaining crust mixture.
- Bake for 20 minutes. Let cool, then gently remove from the pan with a knife.
- Store in an airtight container in the fridge.
**Or non-dairy milk of choice.
***Leave out the vanilla extract if using vanilla flavored milk.