Sweet Potato Bake: Butter beans, spinach & sweet potato bake

This recipe is really from Anna Jones, but I’ve done my usual, which is to simplify and Sun Temple-ize. My friend Emma made it recently for her reading group dinner and I was intrigued, particularly by the butter bean topping, so I checked it out.

I have made this with St. Lucian sweet potatoes, spinach and lemons which you can see in the photo below. I’ve included a photo of the lemons because Mark was unable to identify them as such in our citrus bowl so I thought you would all enjoy seeing their knobbly surface. They taste virtually the same as the lemons I buy in the UK, but with a slightly stronger taste.

Some of you may have picked up on the “citrus bowl” words above and wondered well why not “fruit bowl?” The reason is that in St. Lucia there is a very strong belief that soft fruit such as bananas, mangoes, pawpaw, soursop etc. must NEVER even breathe the same air as citrus (oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruit etc) as they will never ripen properly. Rosie my housekeeper has even gone so far as to insist that the citrus bowl and the general fruit bowl must sit at opposite ends of the kitchen counter. In truth she would prefer if they were in separate rooms. I have to confess that I’m so traumatised by the thought of citrus having such a detrimental effect, that I do the same separation in London.

Gluten Free and Vegetarian : Sweet Potato Bake –  Serves 4

800g (1lb, 12oz) sweet potatoes, skins on

400g (14.5oz) fresh spinach

1 x 454g (1lb) can large butter beans

1 x 400g (14.5oz) can tinned toms with sauce

2 medium onions roughly chopped

4 cloves garlic minced

2 tbsp olive oil

100g (3.5oz) parmesan grated

227g (8oz) whole milk ricotta

juice and zest 1 lemon

15g (1/2 oz or about 10 leaves) basil

15g (1/2 oz) thyme

salt and pepper


Preheat oven to 180ºC (350ºF)

Think of this as 4 layers……The sweet potatoes, the tomato sauce, the spinach sauce and the butter bean sauce.

Start with the sweet potatoes. Slice them into rounds with skin on and place in 1 layer in a casserole dish with a small amount of olive oil to stop them sticking. Turn them once to coat both sides. Place in the oven until they are soft which will take about 35 to 40 minutes depending on your oven.

While the sweet potatoes are cooking, roughly chop the onions and mince the garlic and soften in the olive oil, in a roomy saucepan such as the one in the photo below. When soft, remove half of the onions and garlic and place in a bowl into which you pour the can of tomatoes. Leave the other half in the saucepan for further action.

Potato Bake Preparation

Add the fresh basil with some salt and pepper to the tomato mixture and purée. I use my wand blender for this, but you could use whatever tool you have for achieving the same smooth result.

Place the fresh spinach and the thyme on top of the remaining half of onion and garlic, cover the saucepan and gently cook until the spinach has wilted. Add the ricotta and season with salt and pepper. Purée using the wand blender.

To make the butter bean topping, simply add the beans with half the water from the can, the grated zest and juice of the lemon and the parmesan cheese to a bowl. Purée using the wand blender.

Sweet Potato Bake Dish

Assemble as follows:

  • all the sweet potato which should be there already anyway
  • a splash of tomato sauce
  • all the spinach
  • the remainder of the tomato sauce being gentle so as not to blend completely with the spinach
  • All the butter bean mixture

Bake for approx 45 mins or until your judgement tells you it’s all heated and playing nicely together. I didn’t feel the need to add another vegetable to the meal, but it would improve its presence on the plate if you wanted to have a  “tah dah” moment.

Sweet Potato Bake Recipe and Finished Dish

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