Coconut Oil Roasted Sweet Potatoes

In the past month it seems that all people have been telling me is how worried they’ll be while I’m traversing Central America. At first, I brush it off. “Oh mom, nothing will happen.” Next, I started to worry. “Oh no. Something could happen.” Then, I got annoyed. “Ay, dios mío. I’ve already reassured everyone. Nothing. Will. Happen.” Finally, I realized people worry because they care.

Based on the shear number of people expressing concern, I have a lot of people worrying about me and a lot of people caring. It often is far too easy to lose sight of just how lucky this makes me. If find myself stressing out about money, comparing myself to other peoples’ successes,…And then my mom comes home with springform pan because she saw it on sale and knew I’d been wanting one. And Becca invites me over to make homemade lemon-goat cheese ravioli because, even though she doesn’t like lemon, she knows I do. And Paul calls me because he marked in his calendar my departure date and wanted to say hi-bye. After all that, a lightbulb goes off reminding me that people, people make life beautiful. They’re why I’m excited to travel and why I’ll be just as excited to come home.

And, they’re why I cook. Admittedly, I cook for myself too. It’s my chance to relax, my chance to let my creative side out of its cage to breath. Sharing the food I make with other people though – whether it be writing about it on this blog or digging into it at the dinner table – is always the most rewarding part of the process. It’s the icing on the cake so to speak.

So here, once again, I’m sharing sweet potatoes with you. They come from the New York Times and my beloved Melissa Clark. (She writes for the New York Times in addition to penning some of my favorite cookbooks. Have I told you? And have I told you the dining section of the Times is AWESOME?! As a forewarning though, you only get twenty free articles a month on the Times’ website. Click away carefully.) The coconut oil lends these tender, roasted nuggets a tropical nuttiness. They make the perfect main dish for lunch of snack around midnight. I imagine serving them alongside a piece of citrus glazed white fish or on top of a salad with nuts and apples. Read about them. Make them. And eat them, but save some to share.

Coconut Oil Roasted Sweet Potatoes

adapted (barely) from the New York Times

There are a number of different directions to take the spice combination in this recipe. The original called for brown sugar, nutmeg, and black pepper. Cilantro, chili powder, and paprika would all be nice additions to my variation following the recipe. Olive oil can also be substituted for the coconut oil, but I highly recommend giving the coconut a shot. Finally, peel the sweet potatoes if you’d like. I love the skin and prefer to leave mine on though.

Serves 2 to 4

1 1/2 tablespoons virgin coconut oil

1 3/4 pounds sweet potatoes (about 2 medium potatoes), cut into 1/2-inch chunks

2 teaspoons light brown sugar, packed

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Melt the coconut oil in a small saucepan over low heat.

In a large bowl, toss together potatoes, coconut oil, sugar, salt, pepper and nutmeg.

Spread the potatoes in an even layer on a large baking sheet. Roast, tossing occasionally, until soft and caramelized, about 1 hour.

Variation: Omit the brown sugar, black pepper, and grated nutmeg. Add 1 teaspoon cumin and 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper. After removing the sweet potatoes from the oven sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon lime zest over the top. These have some kick to them so, if you’re spice averse, consider toning the cumin and cayenne down by a 1/4 teaspoon each.

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