Sweet Potato Gratin

In our little Up the Mountain village, sweet potatoes are only available to buy in the local shops during late summer and autumn. They even sell them ready roasted as there are still folk who don’t have ovens and do most of their cooking on the stove top. Of course, if we venture down to the coast and the big supermarkets, we can buy sweet potatoes whenever we want, but the choice of variety is still fairly limited to the large orange fleshed, thick skinned varieties.

Time spent in England Down by the Sea brings a world of vegetables to us in a local supermarket whenever we want. I try to buy seasonally, but with vegetables flying in from all over the world it’s sometimes hard to know what is in season and what is not. It’s also tempting to buy things just because you fancy them. This was the case with some very small, thin skinned sweet potatoes I spotted the other day. They were about 25cm long and just a bit thicker than a fat sausage. I was intrigued and couldn’t resist.

Sweet Potato Gratin (3)

Two were simply roasted and utterly delicious but a lot sweeter than the ones we’re used to. I turned to my old pal Ottolenghi for inspiration and his cookbook delivered with a sweet potato gratin which I chopped and changed (adding in regular potatoes with the sweet ones and changing the chopped sage for parsley as I am being over run by the stuff, and using milk instead of cream). Go back to the original ingredients for a really stunning and luxurious dish (I’ve eaten that version too – it’s incredible) or stick with my recipe for a more every day dish.

This is pretty filling and is great as a vegetarian main course or as part of a larger meal as a side dish.

Ingredients (to serve 2 people as a main course)

  • 2 small sweet potatoes, thinly sliced but with the skin on
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled, halved and thinly sliced
  • 3 tsbp finely chopped parsley
  • 2 cloves of peeled garlic, crushed
  • A tablespoon of olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • About 120 ml (1/4 cup) of semi skimmed milk

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Mix together the two types of potato and the parsley, garlic and olive oil.

Layer the slices in an ovenproof dish and season. Cover with foil and bake for about 30 minutes then remove the foil and pour over the milk. Roast for a further 30 minutes and check that the potatoes are cooked by testing them with a sharp knife.

The dish will be bubbling and hot, serve in the baking dish. Tastes great too at room temperature or even cold the next day.

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51 thoughts on “Sweet Potato Gratin

  1. I love baked sweet potato [called Kumara in NZ] There are always one of the main ingredients when I do roast vegetables. I’ll leave potatoes out in preference to kumara. (they cook quicker too). We also have a gold variety which a like to use if I’ve got carrot in the dish to provide the orange colour.
    I’m going to try your recipe, Tanya. Sounds like a great dish to just prepare and put in oven. Do enough and there’s plenty of left overs. 🙂

  2. On a tangent, do the people in your village with a stove only have the remains of older coal burning ovens/cookers in their houses? When I first lived in Barcelona most apartments had an old coal burning range in the kitchen, but I never saw one in use. Most people had replaced them with two ring gas hobs and a few had small gas cookers with ovens – all using bottled gas. These days a lot of those old ovens have been replaced and there’s a lot more mains gas too.
    I believe the restaurant Los Caracoles (just below Plaça Real) still has enormous coal fired ovens – imagine how hot it is in summer!

    1. Some of the old village houses certainly do have the old cookers in them – we rented one years ago and it was pretty much just a hearth and a grate! A neighbour of ours uses her woodburning outdoor oven all year round. Don’t know how she copes in summer as she bakes bread and cooks up big pots of goat frequently!

      1. I suspected as much. I’ve been to houses in Cataluña where they have ovens and hearth like spaces for cooking paella in outhouses. I imagine some people might have wood burning kiln ovens, where they make bread. I find it very exciting, but I’m sure it’s really hard work and far too hot in the summer.
        My parents had an old farmhouse in Cornwall with a bread oven in the wall, but the chimney was long gone and they would never have used it even if it worked 🙂

  3. I know what you mean about buying seasonally, but every now and then something winks at you and away we go! i’ve grown sweet potatoes here a couple of times, not a brilliant result, but I did get results. I love them and I think I prefer your version – too much cream would hide those delicate thin skinned beauties.

  4. What a delightful vegetarian dish . . . would add a small green mixed salad methinks? But why use sweet potatoes unpeeled and ordinary ones peeled? The peel, after all, has the most nutrients 🙂 ? Have not quite made it this way but think I would mix in a whole handful of green herbs of various kinds??

    1. Well spotted re the potatoes – if I’d had some little new potatoes I’d have left them unpeeled but the ones I had were older with not so nice skins L The herbs sound perfect!

    1. The supermarkets here usually indicate where the produce comes from – I do try to buy locally when I can but sometimes I have to give in to something more exotic!

    1. This reminded me of a Peter Kay sketch from years ago when he talks about his dad being offered garlic bread……”garlic?”…”bread?”!!! I know what you mean, it’s a love it or hate it kind of vegetable.

      1. But, oh so good!! In my case eat sweet potato every week and ordinary potato once a month 🙂 ! [OK, OK, spoilsport nutritionist sounding off gain – sorry 🙂 !!!!!!!]

  5. I am a HUGE fan (metaphorically…not physically yet…but I am working on it 😉 ) of the humble sweet potato. So much so, that I am going to attempt to grow some this year in containers for narfs personal pleasure and not just the orange kumara’s, but some purple fleshed white skinned ones as well. American’s made the rest of the world suspicious of them as they keep stuffing them with marshmallows and making us gag BUT sweet potatoes are amazing savoury as well. Your gratin looks both delicious AND possible for narfs. Just sub in some non-dairy sesame milk and Bob is your vegan uncle (or ex-husband in my case). Did you know that you can make caramel just from sweet potatoes and water? Well you can! Google it and apparently it’s delicious AND healthy. Tell Mr Ottolenghi about it and I am sure he will pinch the idea for his next cookbook and will probably tart it up with some kind of baklava and chocolate and tahini creation that will make us ALL drool (and buy more of his cookbooks you can NEVER have enough Ottolenghi cookbooks!)

    1. You’re teeny tiny! And I love those purple ones too – also love the name kumara. I may name something in my home kumara as it sounds so very exotic 😉 If Bob is my vegan uncle, is Fanny my vegan aunt?! And now I am off to google caramel made from “kumara” (see, I speak antipodean!) and then invite Mr Ottolenghi round for a sweet and sticky kumara ice cream and cheesecake fest!

      1. Far flung Antipodean indeed as kumara is a New Zealand word as they grow SO well there they have adopted them as their own (same goes for kiwi-fruit that aren’t theirs either…neither are pavlovas and Anzac biscuits and fritters but that doesn’t stop them from trying to claim them 😉 I insist on being invited if Mr Ottolenghi turns up. Add Gok to that list and I am hocking the dogs and catching the next flight! 😉

  6. Sweet potatoes are not very popular here in Germany, but I found some at a local supermarket. I had mashed sweet potato a couple of times while living in New York, and didn’t enjoy the taste too much. But I did want to give it another try. After reading your recipe I went ahead and bought some. I added a small zucchini to the mix, and I have to say, I loved it! I still wouldn’t want just sweet potato, but the combination with regular potatoes is great. Thank you very much for this inspiration!

    1. They can be a bit too sweet on their own (I like mine roasted in their skins then drizzled with olive oil and salt) so mixing then with other vegetables is a great idea. So glad you were inspired and thanks for stopping by!

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