I love potlucks. Who doesn’t, right? Perusing the variety of dishes on hand, determining what to have for my first and second (and sometimes third) course, and invariably overeating are all part of the tradition for me. I enjoy finding out how each dish was prepared – and provided I’m on my game that day – showcasing one of my favorite recipes.
The problem with potlucks is that they sometimes fall victim to conventional expectations. Green salad and mac and cheese are almost de rigueur and, while there’s nothing wrong with these dishes, they don’t necessarily take advantage of the best the season has to offer. Always eager for a green challenge to foist upon my friends, I decided to host a little “sustainable” potluck. The rules were simple: Dishes should be made with local, in-season ingredients (pantry items like flour, olive oil, etc., excepted). Fortunately for all of us, mid-March affords a greater variety of produce in SoCal than elsewhere in the country, so I knew we’d have plenty to work with. I also requested that the food be brought in reusable containers. Other than taking on dessert and drinks myself, I didn’t assign main dishes, sides, appetizers, etc., figuring that we’d end up with an assortment of good stuff and the categories didn’t much matter.
I ended up with a smallish group of adults and kids, and the following menu: Black bean, corn, avocado and red pepper salad with lime dressing (amazing), purple cabbage and carrot salad with crumbled almonds (yum), fresh bread and cheese with raw pistachio pesto (scrumptious), and my own sweet potato pudding cake made with rum and coconut (a bit of a cheat, but technically a pantry item). We ate, drank, complimented each other’s culinary skills and shared recipes. Grown-ups and tykes alike chowed down and leftovers were scarce – a sure sign of success. And despite the lack of a traditional “main dish” (i.e. meat), everyone left with a full belly.
Following is my recipe for the sweet potato pudding cake. It’s a hybrid of a couple of recipes I found online, adapted to make use of the ingredients I had on hand and to cut down on the sugar. It doesn’t conform to my five-ingredient-or-less philosophy, but I think it’s worth making nonetheless.
Sweet Potato Pudding Cake
3 to 4 medium to large sweet potatoes (about 2 1/2 cups).
1/2 cup coconut milK
1 TBSP corn syrup (light or dark)
1 to 2 TBSP rum (optional)
1 TBSP pure vanilla extract
2 TBSP brown sugar
1/2 cup whole wheat flower
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
Dash of salt
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1 TBSP brown sugar
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 1 1/2 qt. baking dish.
2. Bake sweet potatoes at 375 degrees until soft (about 45 minutes). Scoop the insides into a bowl and discard the skins.
3. Add all additional ingredients to the bowl and beat thoroughly with a hand mixer.
4. Pour batter into prepared dish and top with coconut and brown sugar mixture.
5. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, or until just firm all the way through. This dish can be served warm, at room temp or cold, and as a side, dessert or breakfast.
So there you have my contribution to the sustainable potluck. If we’re lucky, I’ll be able to convince a couple of my guests to post their fab recipes in the comments below…
Entry filed under: Entertaining, Going Green, Quick Meals & Snacks, Sweet Treats. Tags: green potluck, local foods potluck, seasonal recipes, sustainable potluck, sweet potato pudding, sweet potato pudding cake.