Years ago -- please don't make me tell you how many -- I worked a waitress at the Spring Mill Cafe outside of Philadelphia. The restaurant was tiny and to prepare for dinner, the owner often had the waitstaff in the kitchen making soups, whisking vinaigrette, juicing oranges, and glazing cakes. Apparently, we also made sweet potato and cranberry tart. The owner also opened a bottle of wine before each meal and we all toasted and sipped before the dinner rush. Maybe that's why I remember my waitressing days so fondly. Or maybe it was the wad of cash that I shoved into my pocket at the end of the night.
Anyway, this tart balances the creamy sweetness of the sweet potato with the tart crispness of the cranberries all in one dish. No reason to serve them separately because they are so much better together. I only add a little bit of sugar to the cranberries so that they remain fairly tart to enhance that contrast. Each bite offers a bit of creaminess and a bit of zest. The yin and yang of Thanksgiving sides.
As Oscar said, it tastes just like Thanksgiving. All these years later, it's still one of my favorites.
There it is, folks. The last of my five-side-dishes-for-Thanksgiving parade. I hope you have found something in these that appeals to you. If you don't get them made by Thanksgiving, they will still make tasty side dishes to some other meals. They will be here, waiting for you, all autumn and winter.
And now that we're done with the savory, we can move on to dessert! I've been cooking up a storm and will have a couple of Thanksgiving dessert recipes for you.
Because this side dish is served in a tart shell it is fairly substantial and could stand as a main course for the vegetarians at your table.
The dish can be assembled a day and reheated just before serving in a 300 degree oven for about 20 minutes.
30 minutes preparation time, plus 1 hour to prepare and pre-bake the tart crust
30 minutes baking time
1 Pre-Baked Tart Crust
2 large sweet potatoes
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup cream
8 ounces (2 cups) cranberries
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon lemon zest
salt and pepper
Prepare and prebake the tart shell according to these instructions. Slide the tart pan onto a cookie sheet so that it is easier to move without the bottom panel popping out.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Peel the sweet potatoes and cut them into large chunks. Put them in a medium stockpot with a few shakes of salt and cover with water. Bring to a boil and simmer until the sweet potatoes are soft, about 20 minutes. Reserve about 1/2 cup of the cooking water and drain off the remaining water.
Turn the potatoes into the bowl of a food processor, add the cream, and blend until smooth. If needed to make the sweet potatoes smooth, add some of the reserved cooking water a splash at a time. The puree should be as stiff as possible so that it holds its shape in the tart. Taste and add additional salt and pepper if needed.
In another stockpot, add the cranberries, about a cup of water, the sugar, and the lemon zest. Cover the pot and bring it to a simmer. Keep it covered because as the cranberries cook, they will pop open and you don't want them flying all over your kitchen. Simmer until the cranberries have all popped open and are soft, about 20 minutes. Mash them with a potato masher until the mixture is the texture of a thick fruit jam. If it is too thin, let it simmer for a few more minutes uncovered.
After the tart shell has baked, smooth just over half of the sweet potato mixture over the bottom of the shell, reserving the remaining sweet potato. Next add a layer of the cranberry sauce, spreading it evenly across the top of the sweet potato. There may be more than you need. Reserve a few tablespoons of the cranberry mixture to put on top of the last layer.
Layer the remaining sweet potato on top of the cranberry layer. Don't worry about spreading the layer too evenly; you want some of the cranberry sauce peeking through. Add a few dollops of the remaining cranberry mixture for color.
Bake the tart until it heats through, about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest for a few minutes before serving.