I was sitting in a meeting last week and out of nowhere, I just got the idea for this recipe. Sometimes these inspirations turn out fabulously and other times…well…not so much…This time – ABSOLUTELY AWESOME!
There are several steps to this recipe, but what I love about it is that you actually do very little. You need to be in the house to supervise but the oven does most the work itself;)
I like to make the tomato sauce by roasting the tomatoes first as I find this really brings out their amazing flavour. I also recommend mixing sweet baby tomatoes with larger tomatoes for best results, but after having said that, any old tomato will still taste delicious. The contrast of the sweet (yet slightly spicy) sweet potato rounds with the salty, herby tomato sauce is just incredible. Adding the cheese sauce – perfection…. But don’t take my word for it – give it a shot yourself!
If you eat it straight from the oven, it doesn’t hold it’s shape very well and you end up with a pasta bowl. I love that:) If you want to serve it in perfect squares that hold well, make it the day before and after letting it cool completely, cover it tightly with plastic wrap and store in the fridge overnight. Cut it into perfect squares the next day, dish it up and heat in the microwave. It holds it’s shape perfectly when done in this way.
Ingredients (Serves 4-6)
- lots of tomatoes! I used about 1kg ripe roma tomatoes and about 250g small yellow italian tomatoes (freeze any leftover sauce for next time)
- garlic powder
- freshly ground black pepper and salt
- dried sweet basil, origanum, parsely and thyme (or your favourite herb combo)
- about 1 tablespoon agave/sugar (to taste)
Sweet Potato Layer
- 3 medium to large sweet potatoes
- olive oil
- 3/4 cup raw cashews
- 3 cups water
- 6 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 1.5 teaspoons salt
- 3 teaspoons lemon juice (I used bottled)
- 3 tablespoons tapioca flour/starch/arrowroot
- 1/2 teaspoon-1 teaspoon garlic powder or 1 clove crushed
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 packet (250g) gluten free pasta
Preheat your oven to 200ºC. Place tomatoes whole onto a baking tray and pop in the oven. Turn them around every 10 minutes or so. Roast until their skin starts to peel here and there and they start to crack/burst open. Do not roast to the point of charring the skin. Remove them from the oven and place them into your food processor. Process until they are broken up and form a sauce. Leave the vent of your food processor open and just cover it with a cloth to prevent splashes – the tomatoes are still hot so you don’t want to trap the steam and blow the lid off your processor! Pour the tomato sauce into a pot and bring to simmer on the stove. Add the herbs, salt and black pepper to taste and I advise a little bit of agave or sugar to cut the acidity of the tomatoes. Be generous with the herbs:) Simmer gently for 20-30 minutes, giving a stir from time to time.
While the tomatoes are roasting, peel the sweet potatoes. Slice them into thin rounds of about 1/4 inch thick. Place all the rounds into an oven tray and after pouring a tablespoon of olive oil into your hands, massage the oil into the rounds. Sprinkle the rounds generously with salt and paprika and massage it through until evenly spread. Arrange the rounds into a single layer in the oven tray. By now the tomatoes are probably ready so remove them and pop in the sweet potato rounds. You now want to bake these sweet potato discs until soft and slightly browned both sides – you do not want hard, dry sweet potato chips though so don’t over do it. In my oven I did it 15 minutes on the one side, flipped the discs and did another 10 minutes the other side. Remove and set aside.
Cook half a packet of gluten-free pasta according to the package instructions. I used penne, but spirals, penne, shells, sheets will all do.
While the sweet potato is roasting, add all cheese sauce ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth. You can pre-soak your cashews but I don’t usually bother – turns out great either way and a tiny cashew bit here or there won’t even be noticed. Taste and season with salt to your liking. Pour sauce into a pot and bring to simmer while whisking constantly. As soon as the sauce thickens, remove it from the heat and whisk to make it super smooth.
Take a dish and pour a layer of tomato sauce to cover the base. Make the next layer of gluten-free pasta. Pour some more tomato sauce over the pasta to just cover the pasta. Pour and spread a layer of cheese sauce onto this. Now add a layer of sweet potato rounds. Tomato sauce, pasta, tomato sauce, cheese sauce, sweet potato rounds…..You get the idea – keep going until it is all used up. Save some cheese sauce for the top. Pour a layer of cheese sauce on top and sprinkle generously with gluten-free dried bread crumbs (buy or toast gluten-free bread really well and pop into the food processor to make your own) and origanum. Bake at 180ºC for 15-20 minutes or until top is golden.
Let it stand for 10 minutes before serving.