I am inspired by cookbooks. I appreciate the beautiful pictures; most make me want to cook and they can remind me of the vegetables I haven't picked up in awhile. I still like to play around with recipes a bit (I have a strange aversion to following directions). The neat thing about the book that I pulled this recipe from (which is actually a marriage of two of Ottelenghi's recipes with a bit of Sara thrown in), is the random act of kindness of how this book ended up on my bookshelf. I had admired the book in a bookstore months ago, and filled my phone with photos of some of the recipes. I didn't buy the book then, but I couldn't stop thinking about it. Lo and behold, the book ended up on my doorstep a few days later from a dear friend who had picked up on a twitter comment. A kind note and a high five for finishing a big step in the book process. That sort of thoughtfulness is the inspiration I am after. Not just thinking how I can help someone or noting a quiet compliment, but DOING something to pass on compassion and encouragement. I can't look at the book without thinking of Kelsey's gesture, so I figured it was worth mentioning how loudly one single act of kindness can speak.

I really liked how these turned out, especially the sauce, but I won't tell you they are the most attractive meal you'll ever make. My first mistake is that I was too shy with the coconut oil/butter when cooking the patties, and they stuck to my cast iron pan. I'm not much for frying in general, but I suggest you be generous with the oil in the pan to get a good clean crust. You can serve them with some dressed greens, with black beans or poached eggs on top. Just finish them with a good douse of yogurt sauce on top and it won't matter what they look like underneath. Sauce is always the answer...and kindness. Sauce and kindness.


Potato cakes adapted from Yotam Ottelenghi's Plenty

1 3/4 lbs peeled sweet potatoes, cut in large chunks

2 tsp. butter or coconut oil, plus more for cooking

1 leek, halved and thinly sliced

2 tsp. tamari or soy sauce

1 clove garlic, minced

3/4 tsp. salt

pinch of red pepper flakes

1/2 cup oat flour or unbleached all purpose flour

1 egg, well whisked

yogurt sauce

1/2 cup greek yogurt

2 Tbsp. lemon juice

1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

3 Tbsp. chopped cilantro or basil

2 Tbsp. finely chopped lemongrass*

pinch of salt and pepper

* I know it's unlikely that most people just have lemongrass lying around, and while it adds a ton of flavor here, don't bust your buns if it's not easy to get a hold of. You could also substitute in chopped shallot.

Steam the potatoes until tender throughout. Set aside to cool.

While the potatoes cook, warm the butter or oil in a cast iron pan. Saute the leeks until softened, about 4 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, blend all of the yogurt sauce ingredients, besides the cilantro or basil, together in a mini blender or food processor. Lastly, add the herbs and give it one or two more whirls just to blend in the herbs. Set aside.

When the potatoes have released most of their moisture (steam), transfer them to a bowl and mix them with the tamari/soy sauce, garlic, salt, red pepper flakes and flour to combine. You want the mix to be tacky not wet, add more flour if it seems too moist to hold shape. Add the leeks and egg and mix to combine.

Add enough coconut oil, butter or a mix of the two (which i prefer), to your nonstick/cast iron pan to generously coat the bottom, and warm over medium high heat. Dont be shy. Make small, two tablespoons patties and drop them into the hot pan, pressing down to flatten. Cook until well browned on each side, about 7-8 minutes, adjusting heat as necessary if they start to burn. Remove to a paper toweled lined plate to absorb excess fat while you cook another batch.

Serve with some lightly dressed greens and a generous portion of the sauce. These would be so wonderful with a poached egg on top or other protein of your choice.

Reader Comments (46)

These look delicious, Sara. I've had that recipe bookmarked in Plenty (fantastic book). Love your take on it and the addition of lemongrass. Might just have to make them this weekend!

March 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJen O.

Hi Sara and Hugh. I've been quietly following your blog for a while and finally just had to stop by and say hello. The first picture took my breath away. It is stunning, and was followed by two equally beautiful photos. The writing is eloquent as always (yours is one of the few that I actually take the time to read!!), and the recipe looks delish. Beautiful post!!!

March 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterShauna

Wow. Kindness and sauce. High five to that, indeed. I can't get enough of Ottolenghi's book, either. Endlessly inspiring.

March 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKimberley

mmm mmm Sweet Potatoes are mood lifters, I am cooking up some Sweet P cakes this rainy weekend.
Maybe it will be a side to my corn BEEF and cabbage. Hugh you know you want a bit!

March 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBrittany

Love it! These look fantastic Sara!!! :) I love cooking with lemongrass. Because it's so hard to find and is expensive, we decided to grow it ourselves. We bought a few stalks at the store, stuck the bottom ends into a container with a little water. Within about 2 weeks or so you will see them root and then you can just stick them into the ground or in a nice size pot. They will grow into a wonderful bush after a growing season or 2. They love to be watered regularly. You can cut off stalks to your hearts delight. Best move we made for this asian food cooking household! :)

March 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterYumi

Even though I only know Kelsey through Twitter, I feel like I *know* her. She's so real and clearly one of those special people that are just kind. Purely. These little cakes look positively delicious, Sara! I actually just had a sweet potato for lunch today but wish I had had the time to whip this up instead. xo

March 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKasey

These look incredible. I think I will bust my buns to get some lemongrass ;)

March 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMaria @ Orchard Bloom

Aw, who says those cakes aren't the most attractive meal? I think they look beautiful, especially with the green leaves and herby sauce. Plus, sweet potatoes with yogurt and herbs are clearly an excellent combination--I will definitely be trying this. :)

March 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterEileen

that looks incredibly delicious :)

March 17, 2012 | Unregistered Commentersreebindu

I love the curling steam in the first shot! And I love 'cakes' of all kinds, veggie, seafood, fish, whatever. I just love eating food in little fried-cake form. I did spring for that wonderful book, I drift off to sleep every night staring at the photos.

Hi Sara. I'm sitting in bed in Capetown, feeling pretty crummy and sorry for myself. But relived that your food looks good to me (as it ALWAYS does when I don't have a funny tummy) and sure that means I am on the mend, right? Yes? Good. Anyway, I apologize for my absence in your comments. I subscribe to you via RSS and for some reason, you don't show up as having been updated. I am glad to have some more posts to read while I recover. (I would have sent you an email but I'm no my iPad.)

March 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDana

Hi there, I just discovered your blog and thought I would let you know how delicious everything looks. Can't wait to try out some of your recipes especially these sweet potato cakes!

March 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAllison

I pick up "Plenty" every time I go into a bookstore--so beautiful. Isn't it amazing how a small act of kindness can boost your inspiration and totally change your day?

March 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSarah B-C

Love this! I do one with sweet potatoes and plantains. Congratulations on your book (it's on my Amazon wish list). I found your site through Amy Chaplin's Coconut and Quinoa. I blog in NY.

March 17, 2012 | Unregistered Commenternancy

Yum. I made delicious potato cakes a few weeks back but when I cooked them they all went too dark on the bottom so a poached egg on top hid the worst. I'll definitely try this version.

March 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCharlotte

hey you, you're sweet.

March 18, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterkelsey

Plenty is such a great cookbook, i absolutely love it! I made the sweet potato cakes recipe a couple of weeks ago and they were so easy and delicious. Yours look scrumptious too :)

March 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCristel

it's only 8:51am, but since i haven't eaten, i'm going to make this, because it looks amazing and i just can't resist. loving this.
-jocee <3

March 19, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterjocee

I have returned from the store where I bought "sweet potatoes" marked as "sweet potatoes" and I am disappointed to say they are white on the inside not the rich orange like in your pictures. Are they called something else?

March 19, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterdonna

These sound so good, and the pictures are just *gorgeous*. Really, I love coming here and gazing; everything is so inspiring and soul-giving. Can't wait for your cookbook!

March 19, 2012 | Unregistered Commentersarah

I've been eying Plenty for some time too - how thoughtful of your friend to drop it off on your doorstep! I'm a sucker for sauce and kindness too. The world needs more of both. Your sweet potato cakes look delicious - I love food like this!!

March 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRenee

@Donna - so sorry! They can also be labeled as yams. Most of the time in the US, they call the orange ones sweet potatoes, but yams can be orange too. All depends where you shop :/ The ratios will still work, they just won't be orange. Sorry!

March 19, 2012 | Registered CommenterSara

Can't go wrong with kindness and sauce. I keep picking up Plenty every time I go to my local bookstore - I thumb through it and think about purchasing - and then walk away. This makes the 5th or 6th recipe I've seen from it. So I think I must go pick it up. Thanks for sharing this recipe! Looks awesome. Especially with a healthy portion of sauce :)

SOOOOO good! I made these yesterday and my father, sister and brother-in-law ate them up! Only recommendation would be to "drain" the greek yogurt to make it a bit of a thicker sauce....otherwise, it is bomb diggity delish! Thank you Sara!

March 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKristi

Loved the recipe! I changed some things like adding sliced cucumber, crema di balsamico, and BBQ sauce to top the potato cakes. I did not forget the yogurt sauce! Big hit with the hubby, as well. Thanks so very much...Servus!

March 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBavaria, Germany

hi sara! i made this recipe a few nights ago and the batter was much too moist, and too much so for flour to fix - and the patties ended up burned out the outside & soupy on the in . am wondering if i needed to use more potatoes or what other suggestions you have for a second attempt . thanks for your help!

March 23, 2012 | Unregistered Commenteramy

@ amy - so sorry! I will say that mine were pretty moist too. They aren't the same texture as say, a veggie burger, they are more tender inside, not solid. I would suggest that you are sure to steam the potatoes above water first off, not sitting in liquid at all. While they are cooling, move them around to let as much steam out as you can, so they have as little moisture possible. I used slightly less flour than the written recipe, so you could always try his ratio and up the flour a 1/4 c and try the steam tricks and see how that turns out!

March 25, 2012 | Registered CommenterSara

I'm always looking for new "Sweet potatoes" recipes. For sur I m trying that one.
Your pictures are amazing!!

April 11, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterskinnysimplerecipes

i loved these! i'm in a foreign country, and see a vegetable i don't recognize at the market. i've been meaning to make something with it, and these were perfect! i think the vegetable ended up being a local version of yams...i winged some of the portions and didn't have all the ingredients (for the yogurt sauce), plus i used almond flour to keep it gluten-free, and it turned out perfect! my husband and i ate the whole plate. thank you for a lovely recipe!

April 14, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterreem

I've gotta try this Baked!! (Can't have fried foods). Looks and sounds too good to pass up. Will have to get creative with the sauce, since am also off Dairy... grumble, grumble. Cheers! ~ Hoda

May 17, 2012 | Unregistered Commentercooktocure

I love sweet potatoes and want to try out this recipe soon!

May 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPamela Smithwick

Delicious! I made them for dinner tonight. Will definitely make them again.

August 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNicole

I made these the other night and LOVED them. I rarely find recipes I want to make twice, but this is one of them. My inlaws are visiting next week, and I want to serve these as an appetizer. Do you have a recipe on your site you would recommend serving as a main course that would sort of go with these and/or the season?


September 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterEmily

I love sweet potatoes and any recipe that has them is a must-try for me. I will be making these very soon-perhaps tonight!

October 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJoana

I am actually salivating...I cannot wait to make this!

October 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAlexandra

I made these the other night and they were delicious! Before trying one, hubby professed he's always hated sweet potatoes, but he ended up eating more than me. :) Great recipe and one I'll use again and again. Thanks!

October 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBrenda Sedore

I love the photo - makes me want to run out now and get all the ingredients. The potato pancakes I usually make are with raw, grated potatoes so they need tons of oil to cook and so they are guilty pleasure. Cooking the potatoes in advance so they can just be lightly browned is such a great idea. Can't wait to try these with the lemony yogurt sauce!

November 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLisa

I love the Sweet Potato Cake picture and the receipe sounds great. I can't wait to try it. However, I would have liked to print just the Sweet Potato Cake receipe with the picture. Didn't need to print all the rest of the stuff.

December 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPJ

I am trying to make these tonight for the first time. I found your recipe hard to follow but made it work after reading it a bunch of times.
I am also trying to bake them in a nonstick muffin pan instead of the last step. Cant Wait to taste them :) Thanks for the idea

February 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSarah


I subbed coconut flour to be healthier and they are so tasty-thanks for this, just had a sly half that was left over for lunch with some snow pea sprouts, cherry toms and djion mustard mmmmmmmmmmmmm

massive thank you

March 21, 2013 | Unregistered Commentersasha

Hey found this via Pinterest - thanks for a lovely recipe. Sweet potatoes are one of the few things I can eat! BTW - your presentation is just gorgeous, yet simple and so inspiring.

August 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNess

Lemon grass is always available at my neighborhood grocery and it does bring something to the party. I was wondering if Yams would work as well as Sweet potatoes or would they be too sweet? I have some on hand is the reason I'm asking.

December 9, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSteven Short

@Steven Short - I haven't tried but I certainly think its worth a shot!

December 9, 2013 | Registered CommenterSara

Just saw this on Pinterest today. These sound fabulous and I'm looking forward to making them. Thanks!

February 23, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLindaCO

Those were excellent!! So we are on vacay in Kailua, Oahu. I had to work with limited resources. The leeks were onions, the pepper flakes were Tabasco, the Oatmeal flour was instant baby oatmeal and sour cream instead of yogurt; and the sweet potatoes organic Maui Golds. Fabulous recipe!!!!

March 22, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRich

My grocery produce dept carries pureed lemongrass in tubes...easy to use & long lasting :)

June 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSuzan D

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