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Spicy Vegan Sweet Potato Casserole

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Layer after layer of oven-roasted sweet potatoes and quinoa combine with a creamy, spicy sauce in this healthy take on a familiar classic. The super easy chipotle sauce comes together in the blender. 

Spicy Vegan Sweet Potato Casserole

Spicy and casserole. Are those two words allowed to be said in the same sentence? Is that blasphemy? I dunno. But I am so going there.

This is not your grandma’s or your Aunt Bev’s or even your mom’s sweet potato casserole. Nope. This casserole is grown up, souped up, and kicked up.

No dairy, no cheese, no eggs, no brown sugar, no nuts – just tons of flavor, a hint of spice, lots of protein, and healthy carbs.

sweet potato casserole side by side

Spicy Vegan Sweet Potato Casserole

Spicy Vegan Sweet Potato Casserole

Spicy Vegan Sweet Potato Casserole

As winter slowly releases its grip, recipes like this are getting fewer and far between. I’m craving salads and smoothies and I’m sure I’m not the only one.

But I had the idea for this recipe a couple of weeks ago and and by no means am I reserving it comfort food season/the holidays. If you’re not in the mood for a casserole right now, just pin this bad boy for a later date.

I can rest easy knowing that I have a dish to bring that will please everybody when that time of year rolls around. And it’s a dish that isn’t going to fatten you up for winter – unless you decide to eat the whole thing by yourself, of course.

Spicy Vegan Sweet Potato Casserole

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Spicy Vegan Sweet Potato Casserole

Layer after layer of oven-roasted sweet potatoes and quinoa combine with a creamy, spicy sauce in this healthy take on a familiar classic.

  • Author: Jordan Cord
  • Prep Time: 25 mins
  • Cook Time: 15 mins
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 8
  • Category: Side Dish

Ingredients

  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa (red or white)
  • 2 cups vegetable broth or water (or a mix of the two)
  • 3 large sweet potatoes
  • olive oil

Sauce

  • 1/2 head of cauliflower
  • 2 chipotle peppers (canned, in adobo sauce)
  • 1 Tablespoon adobo sauce from can
  • 1 Tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup of water (saved from boiling cauliflower)

Instructions

Prep

  1. Wash cauliflower and chop into smaller florets.
  2. Preheat oven to 415º and line two baking sheets with foil.
  3. Peel sweet potatoes and use a mandolin [or knife] to chop into round slices 1/4″ thick. Toss with 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil, 2-3 teaspoons each of sea salt and pepper until well-coated. Spread sweet potatoes between 2 baking sheets and put them into the oven for 20 minutes.
  4. This is where things get serious – If you play your cards right, you can knock out the prep for the 3 main components of this casserole simultaneously, in under 25 minutes. Boom. You with me?
  5. Add quinoa and broth (or water) to a medium pot and bring to a boil. Decrease to a simmer and stir occasionally, cooking for 20-25 minutes.
  6. In a larger pot, bring 8 cups of water to a boil and add cauliflower florets. Boil for 10-15 minutes until tender.
  7. Add cauliflower florets to blender, along with 2 chipotle peppers, 1 tablespoon of adobo sauce from the can, 1 tablespoon of white wine vinegar, and 1 teaspoon each of sea salt and pepper. Add 1/4 cup of water and blend until smooth. If necessary, add more water to achieve a creamy consistency.
  8. Once sweet potatoes and quinoa are finished cooking, decrease oven temperature to 350º.
  9. Spray an 8″x8″ baking dish with olive oil.

Assembly

  1. Line the bottom with a layer of sweet potatoes.
  2. Add a layer of quinoa.
  3. Add a thin layer of cauliflower sauce, saving plenty for the top layer.
  4. Add another layer of sweet potatoes.
  5. Add another layer of quinoa.
  6. Add a final layer of sweet potatoes.
  7. Pour remaining sauce over top.
  8. Bake 10-15 minutes until heated throughout.

Notes

Some readers have said this is too spicy for their liking! If you prefer milder spice, I would recommend using 1 adobo instead of two. Or using roasted red peppers instead of adobos.

 

What do you think?

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54 Comments
  • Shauna
    November 15, 2017

    I am planning on making this for a Thanksgiving themed potluck at work this Friday. Do you think I could cook it in a crockpot, or is it good at room temperature?

    • thefitchen
      November 20, 2017

      Hi Shauna! I’m sorry, but I’m not sure how this recipe would turn out in a crockpot. It does taste fine at room temperature!

      • Shauna
        November 21, 2017

        I ended up making this like the recipe says, in a square baking dish and serving it at room temperature. I thought it was delicious! Unfortunately I think the quinoa was too scary for my coworkers and I went home with a lot of leftovers…but on the bright side, more for me! My only issue with the recipe is that I made the sauce just how the recipe said, but it was almost too spicy to eat – and I LOVE spicy! I had to add a ton of almond milk and some nooch to tone it down. It was so good in the end though that I plan on bringing it to my family Thanksgiving this week, though I think I’ll sub the chipotle peppers for roasted red peppers and a little smoked paprika to make it safe for a wide variety of eaters. Either way, I’m keeping this in my repertoire for many future occasions!

        • thefitchen
          November 21, 2017

          Hi Shauna! Thanks so much for the feedback. I have been hearing that it’s too spicy for some people’s liking so I’m going to amend the recipe with a note about other options. I’m a spicy food fanatic so I think I tend to go overboard sometimes! I’m glad you still liked it!

  • Leigh
    August 26, 2017

    My husband, who claims he doesn’t like quinoa, absolutely loved this dish! I loved it too, thanks!

  • Chiara
    July 7, 2017

    I made this casserole for thanksgiving last year and it was amazing We all loved it and I can’t wait to cook it again today ☺️
    Thank you for the amazing idea!

  • Nicole
    March 20, 2017

    Oh, wait! I forgot to add that I also have chipotle chili powder on hand. Would that be a nice substitute to use for the peppers to keep the spice/tang/smokiness, but reduce the amount of heat? Thank you!

  • Nicole
    March 20, 2017

    This sounds fantastic! I just stumbled upon this recipe on Pinterest. While I am not the biggest fan of spicy, the chipotle peppers in adobo sauce sound interesting. Can you tell me how spicy this is with two peppers? Or, are these chipotle peppers more ‘tangy/smoky’ than spicy? Do you recommend removing seeds from the peppers before adding to the sauce to reduce the spiciness? Thank you!

    • thefitchen
      March 21, 2017

      Hi Nicole! Chipotle peppers are more on the smoky side, but they definitely do have some heat to them. I would recommend using just one pepper. No need to de-seed them. I would recommend using the actual pepper instead of the powder. The chipotle powder I have can be pretty spicy itself!

      • Nicole
        March 22, 2017

        Awesome! Thanks for your suggestion! Can’t wait to try this recipe

  • Debbie
    August 23, 2016

    Just made this for my family and they loved it! I added some meatless crumble to the quinoa mixture and instead of Chile adobo I used pickled jalapenos. Came out sooo good! Thanks for the recipe!

    • thefitchen
      August 25, 2016

      Hi Debbie – Adding the crumble is a great idea to amp up the protein! Thrilled to hear that you and the whole family liked this recipe! :)

  • ELIZABETH
    April 25, 2016

    Made this for lunch today! It was absolutely delicious!! I liked the idea someone had about adding lentils for additional texture. I will try that next time, but it’s so yummy “as is.” Thanks for a great recipe! I ended up using the extra chipotle peppers in my homemade hummus :)

    • thefitchen
      April 25, 2016

      Hi Elizabeth – So glad you liked this recipe! I haven’t tried adding lentils yet but I agree, I bet it’s great. Good idea for using up leftover peppers!

    • thefitchen
      May 17, 2016

      Hi Elizabeth –

      Yay! I’m pumped to hear that you liked the casserole. Thanks for letting us know! Good idea for those leftover peppers. ;)

  • Kristin
    April 20, 2016

    Can I freeze the cauliflower sauce and or this casserole

    • thefitchen
      April 22, 2016

      Hi Kristin – I haven’t tried to freeze this casserole, but I assume that would be just fine. I would recommend setting it out to thaw prior to baking.

  • Veronica
    April 14, 2016

    I made this last night and absolutely loved it! It’s the first thing I’ve seen from y’all and it was so good I’m going to have to try something else!

    • thefitchen
      May 17, 2016

      Hi Veronica –

      I’m so glad you liked the casserole! Definitely dig around on our site – you’ll find plenty more good ideas!

  • Sheri
    February 24, 2016

    This was an alright recipe. I feel it needs a little somethung…not sure what though.

    • Camille
      February 10, 2017

      It was the same for me. I ended up adding cilantro, green onions, sriracha, lemon juice and avocado garnish and it was really good :)

  • Kathara
    February 18, 2016

    Has anybody tried this with broccoli instead of cauliflower? I just can’t stand cauliflower, I made one of those cauliflower pizza crusts and it tasted horrible, but I eat broccoli all the time.

    Thanks for sharing,
    Best,
    Kathara

    • thefitchen
      February 20, 2016

      You know what? I’ve never tried that before but that’s a fantastic idea! Stay tuned :)

  • Julie
    January 18, 2016

    Yum! Just had a small serving, and it’s so filling.I like Vanessa’s lentil idea. That extra texture would add to it. I love the sauce. I’m thinking of all I can drizzle it on. It would be delish on a black bean burger with avocado.

    • thefitchen
      January 18, 2016

      Thanks, Julie! So glad you liked it. :) I think I could drink the sauce – I love it so much!

  • Vanessa
    December 24, 2015

    Merry Christmas! I just made this for Christmas tomorrow and I had to tell you this is delicious! I’m so happy I found this. I added lentils with the quinoa to add more protein and texture and it was a nice addition. My husband and I love spicy food so this sauce is perfect for us. Delicious!

    • thefitchen
      December 26, 2015

      Hi Vanessa –

      A fellow spice lover in the house – woop!! Nice idea with the lentils… I love them. Merry Christmas to you guys!

  • Jeff
    October 19, 2015

    I’m confused…someone mentioned nutritional yeast missing and I still don’t see it in the recipe, even though you said that it was updated.

    • thefitchen
      October 19, 2015

      Hi Jeff –

      Mistakenly, the nutritional yeast was accidentally mentioned in the recipe upon first publication. It is not an ingredient in this recipe at all, so you can completely disregard it. Sorry for any confusion!

  • Aimee B.
    October 19, 2015

    Sorry, I also forgot to ask, how much nutritional yeast is used? I saw someone mention it in the comments, but I don’s see it listed as an ingredient.

  • Aimee B.
    October 19, 2015

    This looks delicious! I have a question though. The recipe states 2 cups of cooked quinoa, but then requires 4 cups of broth or water, so should it be 2 cups of uncooked quinoa? Thanks!

    • thefitchen
      October 19, 2015

      Hi Aimee –

      Sorry for the confusion! You only need 1 cup of uncooked quinoa and 2 cups of broth or water. When we first published the recipe, there was some confusion with the cooking process of quinoa. The recipe should now read correctly. And no nutritional yeast is used in the recipe.

      • Aimee B.
        October 19, 2015

        Thanks so much! :)

  • Holly
    September 23, 2015

    I made this for dinner tonight.

    I wasn’t a huge fan of the abodo
    Cauliflower sauce. My sauce didn’t look as creamy as yours. It grew on me but the flavour was a little weird.

    I’m glad I read the comments because the recipe had a lot of errors. I got this recipe from Pinterest and it would be awesome if the recipe was corrected. Maybe my sauce was different because of a missing ingredient.

    • thefitchen
      September 25, 2015

      Hi Holly –

      I’m so sorry about that. I’ve got all the corrections added in and everything should be correct now. I reviewed the written recipe and realized I mixed a few things up. So, so sorry! As for the adobo flavor, you can definitely leave that out. I’m a fan of spicy and I love that chipotle flavor. You could just use the creamy cauliflower sauce and it would be delicious as well.

  • Kathleen
    July 5, 2015

    I’m not a fan of spicy. Can you recommend a substitution for adobo sauce and peppers that aren’t going to give it the bite?

    • thefitchen
      May 17, 2016

      Hi Kathleen –

      Instead of adobo and chipotle peppers, you could certainly try roasted red bell peppers and use some of the liquid from the jar. Those wouldn’t be spicy at all!

  • Allison
    June 9, 2015

    You mention reducing the oven temp to 350 degrees but if it’s at 350 to begin with that doesn’t make much sense. Did you mean 450 initially?

    • thefitchen
      June 9, 2015

      Hi Allison –
      You’re right, that doesn’t make much sense! The oven should be at 415 to cook the sweet potatoes, initially. Sorry about the confusion!

  • Scott
    April 29, 2015

    Hello! It looks wonderful. In the steps you mention “broth” with the Quinoa but can water also just be used?

    Thanks!

    • thefitchen
      May 4, 2015

      Hi Scott –

      Yep! You can use water instead. The broth just adds some more flavor to the quinoa.

  • Estelle
    April 18, 2015

    Hi, please tell me what is “adobo” sauce, what can I substitute in the recipe for the sauce as we do not have it in SA?

    • thefitchen
      April 20, 2015

      We use a type of canned chipotle peppers that come in adobo sauce. It is quite easy to find in most grocery stores in the US, I’m not sure where you could find them in South America. You could also puree fresh peppers along with tomatoes, but I would recommend a milder pepper like red bells. In this recipe, the chipotle pepper with adobo adds a nice smoky flavor to the dish.