Summertime is full of sweet things. Juicy watermelon, ice cream melting on a sunny day, snow cones, funnel cakes, fresh strawberries and blueberries, and apple pie on warm nights. Sweltering summer days are sometimes cooled best by a cold cup of sweet tea, or a heaping serving of cantaloupe.
This being said, you might not think that ‘casserole’ is necessarily synonymous with summer; in fact, you probably cringe at the word casserole right now. Hot, rich, heavy, filling. You probably think Thanksgiving or blustery, bone-chilling days when I say the word casserole. So when my dad said he wanted me to try a sweet potato and apple casserole that I used to hate when I was a kid, I was a little tentative.
Since my dad had to work today, I was in charge of making the casserole. It only has five ingredients which made me even more tentative. Five ingredients? And it tastes good? Without my dad here to supervise, I was left to my own devices to ensure I sliced the sweet potatoes and apples thin enough and layer them properly in the dish.
I made this casserole throughout the day, using an awkward break between appointments to peel and slice the potatoes, and then another break in the day to peel, core, and slice the apples. Before dinner I was able to neatly pile and layer the ingredients in a casserole dish and then put the dish in the oven for the long hour and fifteen minutes of cooking time it requires.
When we all sat down to dinner and I finally got to try the casserole that I disliked as a child and worked hard on all day today, I was anxious. It looked so plain on my plate; no seasonings, only two main ingredients, and a mixture of fruits and vegetables. However, upon the vibrant orange and pale yellow thin slices hitting my mouth, I regretted not consuming entire casserole-dishes of this recipe as a child. I mean, what was I thinking?
The sweet potatoes and apples work perfectly together to create a casserole light enough to serve alongside any dinner dish. Barbeque tofu, grilled salmon, a slice of lentil loaf; you name it, this side would work perfectly. The thinness of the fruits and vegetables give the casserole a summer-y vibe. I’m proud to say that I ate three huge servings of the casserole (to keep pace with my dad who said that I made it just like he used to), and that everyone in my family liked it. It’s easy to make, versatile, light enough to eat in the midst of the heat, and packed with nutrition. Don’t be fooled by the simplicity of the recipe; the taste is incredible without any added spices or sauces.
I know I’ll be making up for lost time as a neglectful sweet potato-eater as a child and eating this casserole a ton more in the future. Hope you love it as much as I do now!
Sweet Potato and Apple Slice Casserole
(Recipe from Jane Brody’s Good Food Book)
4 sweet potatoes
3 apples (Red Delicious recommended)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 cup apple juice
1 tablespoon butter or Earth Balance to veganize the recipe
1. Peel the sweet potatoes. Slice them as thin as possible.
2. Peel the apples. Core them. Slice as thin as possible.
3. In a large bowl, mix apple slices carefully with lemon juice.
4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
5. In a large casserole pan, put down a layer of sweet potatoes so that the entire bottom of the pan is covered. Next, put a layer of apple slices on top. Continue until you reach the top layer of sweet potatoes. Try to layer the sweet potatoes in a pretty formation.
6. Pour the apple juice into the casserole pan, over all of the slices. Scoop the butter on top and then cover the casserole pan with foil.
7. Cook the casserole for 1 hour with the cover on. Then, remove the cover and cook for an additional fifteen minutes. After that, you’re free to serve this delectable creation alongside any meal and enjoy the taste of sweet summertime!