Lent season just started!
Whereas most people find it super challenging to go all-vegan for one and a half months now, I find it amazing for several reasons:
- during the past two years I realized that abstaining from cheese is working wonders for me.. it promotes my health and helps me lose weight.. and that is just impossible for me to abstain from unless there’s an obligation like fasting.
- when going vegan you naturally select healthier options – of course provided you won’t feast on chips or fries sandwiches
- it boosts creativity.. well at least mine.. There’s nations that live on vegan diets so with a little inspiration and some love for experimenting, there’s tons of recipes that can be created and devoured. Just like that one!
There’s an original recipe that inspired this one and that recipe belongs to my sister’s mother in law. She makes pumpkins or squashes with minced meat and tahini.
I find pumpkins amazing however they are so hard to manipulate.. carrying around a huge pumpkin in the super market isn’t a nice idea let alone bringing it home and starting to cut into it, taking the seeds off and cubing it…. it just doesn’t work for me; I am lazy and have little muscle mass to support this workout.
My go to root though is sweet potatoes.. it’s just everything! The creamy texture of potatoes, with a vibrant orange color that indicates lots of nutrients and on top of that has that distant sweetness that brings any dish to a whole new level.
And during lent there’s no place for minced meat.. but our most meat-y veggie friend is definitely mushroom. That is one thing though you could omit.. I tried it as well and it works equally fine.
So here comes the recipe:
Step 1: The mise-en-place:
I cannot emphasize the importance of this enough. A mise-en-place cuts down your cooking time by half, reduces the risk of injuries during cooking and makes you feel like a pro while working in your PJs in your home kitchen.. You need that in your life.
So for this recipe we got these veggies and ingredients going:
- 4 sweet potatoes, washed and not peeled (9LE)
- 1 pack of button mushrooms, rubbed clean with a kitchen towel (20 LE)
- 1 small onion
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- pinch of salt
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp fresh ground nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp pomegranate molases
- 100 mls of tahini (around 15 LE)
- 200 mls of hot water
- 1 tbsp white vinegar
- a pinch of garlic powder
- a pinch of cumin
Step 2: make the “minced” mushroom mixture:
In a small pan, add olive oil, cumin, salt, crushed black pepper, nutmeg and the onion after chopping it up in the food processor and cook it off until the onion starts to turn very lightly golden.
In the meantime add your mushrooms to the processor to finely chop:
Add the mushrooms to the mix and cook off on medium heat. It will release a lot of water that will soon be absorbed and partially evaporate as well. Once your reach this stage add the paprika and the molasses and stir two or three times while on high heat. Remove from heat and set aside.
Step 3: prepare the potatoes:
While the mixture cooks, start cubing the sweet potatoes and add them to a greased glass baking dish.
They have to be in a single layer. If they are not they won’t cook evenly. As you see I totally prefer leaving the skin on, however if you don’t, you can peel before cutting the potatoes into cubes.
What happens when there’s leftover sweet potatoes that did not make that one single layer of the dish? You make sweet potato fries! Talk about win-win situations 😉
Step 4: Add the cooked mushroom mince to the dish:
Step 5: Prepare the tahini mixture:
If you are familiar with the tahini dip you get served at any oriental style restaurant, then you’re more than half way there with this. The only difference between this mixture and the beloved dipping sauce is you thin it out and you avoid lemons. Why? Lemons go bitter when cooked for long and you sure don’t want that in your dish.
I happen to own this little shaker where i make the tahini. It helps me measure out the ratios – being a baker kind of makes you do this automatically.. but cooking is a lot more forgiving than baking and you can troubleshoot as you go. For the sake of the recipe though, I added here some of the tahini paste until it reached the 100 ml mark, followed by a dash of vinegar, about a teaspoon or so with salt and garlic powder and cumin and added lots of water.. to reach the 300 ml mark to be exact. Now pour this mixture onto the prepared potatoes and mushrooms.
As I did so i found that the potatoes were not entirely covered with the mixture. Big deal? Naaah..
I just added some more hot water to bring it to this. Now cover in tin foil and into the oven for an hour at 180 degrees (Celcius)
Step 6: finishing it off:
Remove the tin foil and test the potatoes. They are done if a knife or fork pokes through easily. Once done, pop it back into the oven for a good 15 minutes to dry a little and not be soggy.
This is the finished plate… I know, I know, it doesn’t look delicious at all! BUT, before you had that, don’t judge. It tastes simply divine.. the perfect meal on a cold rainy day.
You can have plain white rice or even a good piece of bread with that.