As I rummaged for lively looking vegetables at the health food store recently, my idea for these cakes changed numerous times. At first they were curried, then root vegetable, then herbed, then I finally settled on this recipe. Usually “what to cook” becomes clear to me once I’ve stood before organic vegetables for a minute or two –although a walk thru the farmer’s market most of the year can result in a flood of ideas, usually too many to organize into a single meal. Fresh, colorful vegetables speak to me in a way that triggers cravings and a desire for a certain flavor combination; they catch my attention and ultimately, they themselves decide what will end up becoming dinner.
Of course it becomes more difficult for the veggies to “speak” by the time it gets to the tail end of winter, when they’ve lost much of their vitality from being stored for long periods of time or shipped from warmer regions. So my solution is to visualize flavor combinations before heading to the store.
These cakes, despite the winding road it took to get to them were tasty and delicious. I love the way the whipped cashew cream highlights the sweet vegetables, cilantro and chili. Keep the recipe on hand for topping anything that needs a creamy and tangy component.
Sweet Potato Carrot Cakes with Cilantro and Chili
I didn’t end up using all the red lentils that I cooked, but I’ve left the full amount here as it’s only a cup and I find it’s good to have protein on hand for quick meals.
Makes about 14 2 ½-inch cakes
1 ¼ cup red lentils, rinsed
1 ½ cups filtered water
2 tablespoons extra virgin coconut oil, plus more for brushing pan and cakes
1 large onion, finely chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
2-inch piece peeled fresh turmeric, finely grated or 1 teaspoon dried turmeric
1 red chili, thinly sliced ( I used a red jalapeno) plus more to garnish
1/3 cup finely chopped cilantro stems, from one bunch cilantro
3 medium carrots, grated, divided (about 6 cups)
2 small sweet potatoes, grated (I used one regular and one Japanese sweet potato)
1 cup chopped cilantro leaves, plus more to garnish
2 scallions thinly sliced
1 teaspoon tamari, plus more to taste
1 ½ teaspoons brown rice vinegar
Combine lentils and water in a small pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Cover pot, reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes, remove from heat and set aside covered while you prepare the other ingredients.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, brush paper with coconut oil (you may have to melt it first) and set aside.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit (convection bake) or 400 degrees if you don’t have a convection setting.
Warm coconut oil in a wide skillet over medium heat and add onion. Sauté for about 5 minutes or until golden. Add garlic and a large pinch of salt and continue cooking for another 3 minutes. Stir in turmeric, chili and cilantro stems and cook 2 minutes longer. Reserve about 1 cup of grated carrot and add the rest to the skillet along with the grated sweet potato. Cook, stirring for 4 to 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender but not soft. Remove from heat, stir in remaining carrot, cilantro leaves, scallions, tamari and rice vinegar and set aside.
Remove 1 cup of red lentils from the pot and save for another use. Place remaining red lentils into skillet and mix to combine. Season to taste with salt and tamari and set aside until cool enough to handle.
Shape into cakes, using a ¼ cup measure as a guide. Flatten them a little, place on prepared tray and brush with coconut oil. Bake for 20 minutes or until browning on the bottom. Flip over and continue baking for another 10 to 15 minutes or until golden brown on each side.
Cashew Lime Sour Cream
Use this tangy, light cream anywhere you would use regular sour cream.
1 cup cashews, soaked 4 to 6 hours
Zest of one lime
3 to 4 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons filtered water
½ teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
Drain and rinse cashews and place in an upright blender. Set lime zest aside and add remaining ingredients. Blend until completely smooth and velvety, scraping sides as necessary. Season to taste and add reserved lime zest. Pulse to combine and pour into a bowl. Place in the fridge for an hour or until ready to serve. Sour cream will last 2 to 3 days in an airtight container.
Print recipe here.