I will never forget the feeling of digging up our first crop of sweet potatoes at our first home when we were finally able to have a good size garden. I had ordered 100 “slips” (baby sweet potato plants) to plant that year, but didn’t really know what I was doing and didn’t have high hopes for the outcome.
I watched as the little plants grew into huge crawling vines and I hoped there were at least a few sweet potatoes to show for it, since they are one of our family’s favorite foods. Turns out, I didn’t need to worry. As I started harvesting the potatoes, I soon realized that my little basket I’d brought to carry the potatoes in was not going to be even close to big enough.
Five hours and 10 huge boxes later, we were finally done collecting sweet potatoes and it was a great winter that year! My kids eat sweet potatoes like candy and we had a constant supply of:
I also discovered this recipe that winter when my kids asked for lasagna and I didn’t have any zucchini on hand for my usual Zucchini Lasagna recipe. I had canned some of our homemade pasta sauce that year as well and dried herbs from our garden, so even in the winter, we had a garden to table lasagna.
This recipe tastes very similar to regular lasagna but substitutes thinly sliced sweet potatoes for the noodles in regular lasagna recipes. You can actually adapt most lasagna recipes by roasting sweet potato slices and using in place of noodles, but this is the best combination we’ve found.
- 1-1.5 lbs ground beef (can also use ground Italian sausage for part)
- 2 (24 ounce) jars of pasta sauce (check ingredients!) I used 1.5 quarts of homemade pasta sauce
- 1 large container Ricotta cheese
- 1 pound Mozzarella cheese, grated
- ½ cup Parmesan
- 8 eggs
- 5-6 medium sweet potatoes, thinly sliced lengthwise
- spices to taste (We like a lot of flavor, so I used about 1 tbsp each of basil, oregano, thyme, marjoram, rosemary, granulated garlic, onion powder etc. and about ½ tsp each of salt, pepper, etc. Spice to your own preference!)
- Thinly slice sweet potatoes lengthwise into ¼ inch slices or smaller. Place on well-oiled baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees until just starting to brown and get tender. It isn't necessary to peel, but it might be a good idea if you are trying to hide the vegetables from any picky eaters!
- While sweet potatoes are cooking, brown meat in a large skillet. If there is room, add the pasta sauce to skillet to warm. If not, add meat and pasta sauce to large pot and heat to a simmer. Add any desired spices.
- Mix large (approx. 32 ounce) Ricotta cheese with eggs, Parmesan, and half of grated mozzarella cheese. I also added garlic powder and basil to the mixture. Set aside.
- When sweet potatoes are done, remove from oven. In large 9x13 glass baking dish (or 10x16) start layering: meat/sauce on bottom, followed by sweet potato slices, then ricotta mixture. This made 2 thick layers for me, but could be spread out into three layers if you dish is deep enough. Make sure the meat/sauce layer is on the top when done. (If you are making ahead, throw in the freezer at this point, and it will be ready to bake when you need it.
- When you have added all ingredients in layers, place back in oven at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to an hour or until egg/ricotta mixture is set and middle is not jiggly. It will firm up as it cools too.
- About 15 minutes before done, add remaining mozzarella cheese to top and put back in oven.
- Serve immediately. (I recommend a side of Italian music and a salad!)
What’s your favorite lasagna variation?