A couple of weeks ago, I posted a Weekly Vegetarian Meal Plan – something I do every couple of weeks or so.And sometimes I fall in love with one of the recipes, and can’t stop making it. That’s what happened with the Sweet Potato Cakes with Lemony Slaw by The First Mess. I’ve made this one 3 times now. And each time I make it, I do something new with it.
I like to share my results on some of the recipes with you guys in case you decide to try them. Often, I add some additional tips for success. Usually, I create a riff on the original. For example, back in January, I posted a healthy winter-focused Weekly Vegetarian Meal Plan, and then posted this recipe for Sumo Citrus Salad with Cauliflower, Olives and Feta that was a pasta-less riff on the Orange Orzo Salad with Almonds, Feta and Olives from Cookie + Kate.
Back to these amazing sweet potato cakes. First of all, I admit there seems to be a lot of ingredients. A lot of you don’t like to make something with a lot of ingredients. I get it. But it’s seriously worth it this time. When Carnivorous Maximus (aka my meat-loving husband) tried them, he said “Don’t Change A Thing.” I capitalize every word for a reason. He has NEVER said this. Instead, it’s always, maybe a little more of this and less of that. But not this time.
But I do get it. So I made some notes below of ingredients you can eliminate, and still get a sweet potato cake I think you’ll like. It just won’t be as good or maybe as healthy. Just sayin’. 🙂 And I added an option for making it less like a patty – the vegan version CM preferred – and more like a cake – my personal favorite.
Before launching into tips and the recipe, I want to highlight a couple of ingredients these sweet potato cakes call for that might be unfamiliar to you. Nutritional yeast and hemp seed hearts.
What’s Nutritional Yeast and Why Should I Use It?
- Nutritional yeast is technically made from the same species of yeast we bake bread with, but the cells are deactivated with heat before being harvested, washed, dried, crumbled and packaged.
- It’s super nutritious, fat-free, sugar-free, gluten-free, and a complete protein. A complete protein means it contains all 9 essential amino acids that we need to get from our food. Most foods contain only some of the 9, which means those food must be combined with other foods to get the full protein requirement we need for healthy bodies and brains. Also, only 1 tablespoon packs a powerful 2 grams of protein, making this an excellent source of protein for vegans.
- The appearance is golden flakes or powder, and the flavor is slightly cheesy. Use it in recipes like these sweet potato cakes, your next batch of broccoli soup, or as a flavoring for popcorn or other snacks. Nutritional yeast popcorn is a snack I make a few times a week!
- I purchase nutritional yeast from bins in my grocery store, although it’s also available packaged – as you can see in the below links.
What Are Hemp Hearts and Why Should I Use Them?
- Hemp hearts are protein packed seeds that are high in Omega-3, and a great nutritious addition to your dishes.
- They have a nutty flavor and are easily added to soups and veggie burgers, like these sweet potato cakes. I’m just starting to experiment with this ingredient, so you’ll be hearing more about more ways to use them in the future.
- I purchased Bob’s Red Mill Hulled Hemp Seed Hearts for this recipe, and love them! You can’t go wrong with Bob’s Red Mill’s attention to quality and flavor.
Tips For Making Sesame Crusted Sweet Potato Cakes
- Use larger sweet potatoes for this recipe. They’re much more moist when they cook up than smaller ones. I microwave them to save time and the energy it takes to heat up my oven.
- I recommend using frozen quinoa. It heats up on the stove in minutes and ends up dry, which works well for these sweet potato cakes. I use the brand linked below. You won’t need the whole bag for this recipe, but I always heat it all up so that it’s available in the refrigerator to add to dishes at the last minute.
- The vegan approach to this recipe (without the egg) is dense and much like just eating a yam, and the sesame seeds add a crispy crust. To make these sweet potato cakes a little more cake-y, use the optional ingredients of the egg and breadcrumbs. But don’t be tempted use the breadcrumbs but not the egg, as the patties will completely fall apart.
- Substitute pumpkin pie spice for garam masala if you don’t have the latter on hand. Garam masala is a spice mixture often used in Indian food, made with cumin, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, cloves and a few other spices. It’s also easy to make it yourself.
- These sweet potato cakes heat up well the next day.
- Make the vinaigrette up to 2 weeks ahead and store in the refrigerator. This is my standard fall vinaigrette I always have on hand when I can get good pears. And alternative is the lemony dressing in the original recipe that inspired this one (link is above in the first paragraph), or any lemony vinaigrette / dressing you prefer.
Ways to Simplify the Recipe
- Eliminate the nutritional yeast and hemp hearts if you must. This won’t affect the flavor, but the sweet potato cakes won’t be nearly as nutritious, as you can read above in the post.
- Nix the orange zest – it won’t significantly affect the flavor – and cancel the sesame seeds, if you don’t care if they’re crispy or not. The patties get a little crispy by sautéing them on the stove.
- This leaves you with 5 ingredients for the sweet potato cakes not including salt, pepper and olive oil. But in terms of time, you only save about 2 minutes – the amount of time it takes to measure out the ingredients and to zest 1/2 of an orange.
Sesame Crusted Sweet Potato Cakes
Sweet Potato Cakes
- 2 cups mashed, cooked sweet potatoes, 2 - 3 medium sweet potatoes
- 1 cup cooked quinoa
- 1/4 cup hemp seed hearts
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 2 teaspoons onion powder
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon garam masala spice mix
- 1 teaspoon orange zest, from about 1/2 large Navel orange
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, or 1/2 teaspoon table salt
- 2 tablespoons fresh breadcrumbs, optional for cake-y sweet potato cakes
- 1 large egg, optional for cake-y sweet potato cakes
- 2 teaspoons black sesame seeds
- 2 - 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 - 4 tablespoons Pear Vinaigrette
- 6 cups shredded cabbage
- 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh dill weed
- Bake the sweet potatoes - I use the microwave oven. Allow to cool, slice in half lengthwise, and scoop the sweet potato meat into a large bowl.
- Either cook the quinoa from scratch or do as I do, and use frozen quinoa. Follow the directions on the package. Add to the bowl with the sweet potatoes.
- Add the hemp hearts, nutritional yeast, onion powder, garlic powder, smoked paprika, garam masala, orange zest and salt. If you like them cake-y like I do, add the breadcrumbs and egg.
- Form 8 - 9 patties. I do this by scooping the sweet potato mixture into a 1/4 cup, as pictured above in the post. Lightly press into a patty with your fingers, and press sesame seeds into the surfaces of each one.
- Heat the oil in a skillet and sauté the patties over medium heat, 4 minutes each side. Divide between 4 plates.
- Slice the cabbage very thinly and toss with the dill and Vinaigrette. Pile it beside the sweet potato cakes, and drizzle more vinaigrette on the little cakes.
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