Sweet Potato Surprise

A creamy noodle casserole with mac n' cheese style vegan sweet potato sauce. Spinach, shallot, scallions + sage are baked in for extra nutrients and flavor!

sweet potato surprise / loveandlemons.com sweet potato surprise / loveandlemons.com sweet potato surprise / loveandlemons.com

I first made this months ago with the very first butternut squash of the season. I had decided ahead of time that it would be a “non-photo” night since casseroles are not the easiest subject matter. Of course, after we made it, I was regretting not having the camera out because it tasted way too good not to share.

For the second go-around, I made it with sweet potatoes only because that had a better ring than “butternut squash surprise.”

If you’re vegan, this will taste like a baked mac and cheese. If you’re not vegan, it will just taste awesome, and you won’t really believe it’s vegan (surprise). If you use gluten free bread crumbs on top instead of panko, it’s gluten free (double surprise).

5.0 from 6 reviews

Sweet Potato Surprise

Serves: 2-3 with extra sauce
  • 1-2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large shallot, chopped
  • 1 heaping cup chopped sweet potatoes
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 8 ounces veggie broth
  • ¾ cup light coconut milk
  • 2 cups uncooked pasta (I used Jovial brown rice fusilli)
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • ¼ cup nutritional yeast
  • 4-5 sage leaves, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 cups chopped fresh spinach
  • ¼ cup chopped scallions
  • ¼ cup to ½ cup panko (or gluten free bread crumbs)
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  1. In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil. Add the shallots with pinches of salt and pepper. Cook until translucent. Add the sweet potatoes, garlic, broth and coconut milk. Cover and simmer until the potatoes are cooked and soft (about 15-25 minutes), stirring occasionally.
  2. Cook your pasta according to package directions, reserving some pasta water before draining. Set aside.
  3. To your sweet potato mix, stir in the dijon mustard, nutritional yeast, sage, and maple syrup. Add more salt & pepper.
  4. Transfer the mixture to a high speed blender (a Vitamix is recommended) and blend until smooth.Taste and adjust. Add some of the starchy pasta water to thin it out if it's too thick.
  5. Place the spinach in a large bowl and scoop the hot pasta noodles on top (so the hot pasta starts to wilt the spinach). Mix in the sweet potato sauce, thinning with more pasta water if necessary.
  6. Place in a baking dish. Top with the scallions, a sprinkling of panko, pinches of salt, pinches of red pepper flakes, and a drizzle of olive oil.
  7. Bake in a 350 degree oven for approximately 20 minutes (uncovered) until the top is brown and crusty. I turned on my broiler for the last couple of minutes to help with the browning.
*the pan in the photo is 7x9 inches.



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Rate this recipe (after making it):  

  1. Melina Hird

    Could I make the mixture the night before and then complete the recipe the next day?

    • Samantha

      Amazing! I cook many of your recipes and they have all been so delicious, but I have to say this might be one of my favorites! I used butternut squash as you said you did the first time because sometimes sweet potato can be hard on my stomach and this was seriously a delicious comfort food. My husband and I loved it and we couldn’t wait for leftovers for the next two days (I doubled the recipe). I have many dietary concerns so I also used the brown rice pasta and brown rice panko. Yum!!!

  2. Rashmi

    This looks delicious and yummy! Thank you for the recipe steps you explain it nicely.

    • Sara

      Did it have a strong coconut flavor? Could use use a different milk like cashew?

      • Jeanine Donofrio

        Hi Sara, you could use cashew milk.

A food blog with fresh, zesty recipes.
Photograph of Jeanine Donofrio and Jack Mathews in their kitchen

Hello, we're Jeanine and Jack.

We love to eat, travel, cook, and eat some more! We create & photograph vegetarian recipes from our home in Chicago, while our shiba pups eat the kale stems that fall on the kitchen floor.