Caribbean Sweet Potato Gratin

(from Moosewood Restaurant New Classics)

Serves 6 to 8

This is a full-bodied main dish substantial enough for the heartiest appetite. Thinly sliced sweet potatoes are a must: they’ll cook properly and release enough starch to thicken and set the gratin. Finely chopping the spinach—like the ribbons of a chiffon cut—helps disperse the flavor throughout.
NOTE: I use quinoa instead of rice and kale instead of spinach.


  • Preparation time: 35 minutes Baking time: 60 minutes
  • Preheat the oven to 350 °. Lightly oil a 9 x 13-inch baking pan.


  • 1 garlic clove, minced or pressed
  • 11/2 teaspoons freshly grated lime peel
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 11/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper 21/2 cups coconut milk*
  • 4 cups peeled and sliced sweet potatoes** (1 ½ pounds)
  • 1 cup cooked rice
  • 11/2 cups cooked black beans (15-ounce can, drained)
  • 11/2 cups fresh spinach, rinsed, stemmed,
    and chopped

*About 20 ounces. Most coconut milk comes in 14-ounce cans; store extra in the freezer in a sealed container.

**Cut the sweet potatoes in half
lengthwise, then slice them thinly.


  • 3/4 cup cornmeal
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin 1/4 teaspoon salt


  • Combine the garlic, lime peel and juice, cilantro, thyme, salt, pepper, and coconut milk in a measuring cup. Pour one third of this mixture into the prepared baking pan. Layer half of the sweet potatoes in the bot­tom, topped by half of the rice, half of the black beans, and half the spinach. Pour on another third of the coconut milk mixture and repeat the layers of sweet potatoes, rice, beans, and spinach. Pour the remaining coconut milk mixture over all.
  • In a small bowl combine all of the topping ingredients and sprinkle over the gratin.
  • Bake, uncovered, for about 6O minutes, rotating the pan in the oven after 30 min­utes to ensure uniform baking. When the potatoes are tender and the topping is crisp and golden brown, remove from the oven and let sit for 2 to 3 minutes until the pota­toes absorb any remaining liquid.

Submitted by:

John (Jay) Stewart, April 2017