Start Planning Your Sides for Thanksgiving…

A big Old Gnarly Jewel Yam

The Thanksgiving meal is always a biggie, especially for Vegans and vegetarians. We want to share our love with our families and friends, but not to eat any turkey. You may opt for a turkey free day, or you may be bringing a dish to a shared meal with omnivores. Either way, its all about giving thanks.

This week, I’m getting psyched for making my yams. Sweet potatoes, yams, all the same thing these days, just in case you were wondering. The original yam is a giant, not very sweet tuber that grows in Africa and the tropics, but the sweet potatoes that we grow here have taken on the name. I went to my grocery store and found three common examples, a garnet yam, the darkest red one, a jewel yam, the orange one, and a white sweet potato, the pale one. The garnet is sweetest, the jewel mid-range, and the white one, well, not too sweet at all.

The great thing about the colors is that they do signal the presence of high antioxidants. Of course, sweet potatoes are healthy foods, high in carotenoids and fiber. They are so rich and delicious that they really don’t need much fussing to make them really satisfying.

For a change, I thought I would make roasted yam fries. So, I lopped off a slice from my jewel yam to make it stable to slice, and placed it on the flat cut side. From there, I sliced it and then sliced the slices into French fry shaped strips. Then I preheated the oven to 425 F. I put the yams on sheet pans, being careful not to crowd them, and tossed with olive oil. I wanted all the pieces to have contact with the pan. I roasted them for 20 minutes on the bottom rack, then flipped the slices with a metal spatula. I roasted for 20 more. A sprinkling of coarse salt made them complete.

Slice Carefully into "Fries"

All Those Sugars Brown Up Beautifully

For variety, you can also cut them in spears, just cut the pieces fatter, and then roast them longer.

I ate mine with a dose of Sriracha sauce, but you can go more Thanksgiving-y by tossing them with chopped fresh herbs, like sage and thyme. Get crazy by making a mayo (or vegan mayo) mixed with herbs, smoky chipotle, or garlic for an aioli. Use coconut oil and curry powder for a little Indian flair. Sprinkle with chili powder and lime, and serve with salsa for a Mexican theme. Go for a bit of protein with a Thai or African style peanut dipping sauce.

Break out from your sweet potato casserole rut and give yam-fries a try.

Yam Fries with Thai Peanut Sauce

This may not seem like traditional TG fare, but you will find people devouring it anyway. Our tastebuds fatigue with all that sage and cranberry sauce, we need something spicy to keep us interested. Thai Kitchen curry pastes are fish-free, so look for them to avoid non-vegetarian ingredients. This sauce keeps for a couple of weeks in the fridge, and is great for dipping, stir fries, or even slathering on sandwiches.

1 large sweet potato, cut fry-style

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or other oil

sprinkle of kosher salt

SAUCE

1 teaspoon canola oil

3  shallots, sliced

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 1/2 teaspoons red curry paste (to taste)

1 cup coconut milk (reduced fat is fine)

1/2 cup peanut butter, pure and natural

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons sugar or other sweetener

3 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1 pinch salt

For the fries, toss with olive oil on two sheet pans, then roast at 425F for 20, flip and turn the pans, and then roast for 20 more. Go for some good browning on the bottom. Serve hot with sauce.

For the sauce:

In a small saucepan, heat the oil and saute the shallots until browned. It’s not alot of oil but the sauce will be really oily if you add more. Add the garlic and saute for a minute, then add the curry paste and work it all together, cooking until fragrant. Stir in the coconut milk, then work in the peanut butter. Simmer for a minute, then stir in the soy sauce, sweetener and lime. Simmer over low heat until thick, the oil will start to separate when it is done.

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