Cajun Sweet Potato Rigatoni With Kale

October 26, 2021
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Photo by Food Stylist and Author Shanika Graham-White of Orchids + Sweet Tea: Plant-Forward Recipes with Jamaican Flavor & Southern Charm
  • Prep time 10 minutes
  • Cook time 20 minutes
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

This sweet potato pasta is the perfect way to enjoy a plate of creamy pasta, but without the dairy and cheese. This recipe is loaded with sweet potato flavor, which marries deliciously with Cajun seasonings and of course the amazing chunkiness of rigatoni. Inspired by my Southern and
Jamaican roots, this pasta adds real comfort to dinnertime meals. Whip it together in 20 short minutes and make the sauce ahead for an easier cooking experience.

Sweet potato puree or mash is one of my favorite ingredients to use as a binder and natural sweetener. I include it in all sorts of sweet and savory dishes ranging from pancakes and waffles to pasta, tacos, and brownies. I even include it in the occasional smoothie or drink! For that
reason, I love having this puree (or mash) on hand stored tightly sealed in my refrigerator so that it’s an easy “pull-out-and-add” ingredient. Growing up, I remember seeing the grown-ups cook sweet potatoes in boiling salted water before mashing them up and adding them to whatever dish they were making. However, it wasn’t until I began to cook more and more that I realized while this method isn’t wrong, you get better results from roasting the sweet potatoes rather than boiling them. Roasting reduces their moisture content, concentrating their flavor and creating a thick and creamy puree or mash.

After roasting the potatoes in the oven, cut them down the middle, then open them up and scoop the insides into a high-powered blender. Pour in ¼ cup water and blend until completely smooth and pureed, 2 to 3 minutes. —Shanika Graham-White

Test Kitchen Notes

This recipe is excerpted and slightly edited from Food Stylist and Author Shanika Graham-White of Orchids and Sweet Tea: Plant-Forward Recipes with Jamaican Flavor & Southern Charm. Adopting a plant-forward diet doesn't mean that you'll be eating a lifetime of meals that are primarily steamed broccoli and plain rice because eating healthy doesn't mean that food has to lack flavor. In Orchids + Sweet Tea, recipe developer and food stylist Shanika Graham-White shows you that plant-forward meals can be delicious, bold, and flavorful. You just have to be willing to be creative and treat food as art. —The Editors

  • 1 pound rigatoni
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 pinch ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup low-sodium vegetable stock
  • 1 (13-ounce) can coconut cream or full-fat coconut milk
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons homemade or store-bought Cajun seasoning, plus more for topping if desired
  • 1 1/2 cups sweet potato purée
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 tablespoon dry white wine
  • 1 pinch finely ground sea salt
  • 1 pinch ground black pepper
  • 2 cups destemmed and chopped kale
In This Recipe
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to the package directions. While the pasta is cooking, begin preparing the sauce.
  2. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat the oil. Add the garlic and cinnamon and sauté for 30 seconds to 1 minute, until the garlic begins to become fragrant. Reduce the heat to medium and add the flour to the skillet, whisking until well combined and a paste forms.
  3. Slowly whisk in the stock, stirring constantly until a thick sauce begins to form. Repeat this step with the coconut cream, then stir in the Cajun seasoning, sweet potato purée, nutritional yeast, wine, salt, and pepper. Add the kale and simmer, stirring occasionally, for another 3 to 4 minutes, until the kale is tender.
  4. Drain the pasta, then add it to the sauce. Stir to fully coat the pasta. Remove from the heat. Serve immediately in bowls topped with additional Cajun seasoning, if desired.

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Shanika is a self-taught cook and baker, food stylist and recipe developer, who has partnered with amazing brands (Navitas Organics, Drew's Organics, So Delicious Dairy-Free, Bob's Red Mill, Organic Valley, and more) to be the source for comfort food and sweets, with a healthy twist. She desires to help others turn the ‘little’ that they have into something magical—great food! On her blog, Orchids + Sweet Tea, you will find everything from dairy-free to gluten-free to vegan to classic faves!

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