Saturday, November 19, 2011

simple side: roasted + mashed sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes always play a part in our Thanksgiving feast. Depending upon the year, I have roasted slices of them in the oven in a rustic fashion, par-baked them and then grilled them, mashed them and topped them with a homemade sweet/savory struesel (a la Epicurious), and yes, I have even been known to smother them in marshmallows (winning mom-of-the-day with that batch)... but last year, I went even simpler and healthier. Depending upon the other sides you plan to make, you can start with this super-simple recipe and modify it to get to your ideal health profile and taste for this year.

Super Easy Roasted + Mashed Sweet Potatoes
(makes 8 servings - can be made 3-4 days ahead, stored in fridge)

4 lbs sweet potatoes, whole, skin on
rimmed baking sheet
tin foil
salt & pepper, to taste
splash of orange juice (optional)
1 T fresh ginger (optional, I add it using a microplane zester)
1-2 T agave or brown sugar (optional, I don't find it necessary)
2 T butter (optional)
1/2 cup praline pecans, crushed (optional)

Preheat oven to 375. Wash potatoes and pierce each one a few times with a fork. Place on foil lined baking sheet and bake until tender, about 1 hour. Cut each sweet potato in half and scoop the flesh out into a bowl. Mash with a fork, or potato masher, until desired texture, adding a splash of orange juice to thin them a bit, if you'd like. You may leave the sweet potatoes as is, for a very healthy side dish or.... if you want to make the dish sweeter and more decadent, you can mash in 2 T butter and/or 1 to 2 T agave (or brown sugar) and top them with 1/2 cup of crushed praline pecans. (Trader Joe's sells them rather inexpensively. Best way to crush them is to place them in a zip-loc bag and let your children roll a rolling pin over them, or thwack them with a meat mallet or heavy spoon...)

Can be made 3-4 days in advance and stored in the fridge. To reheat, simply cover loosely with foil (so the top doesn't get too brown) and place in the oven you are using on Thanksgiving at some temp between 350-400, for 30-40 minutes or until warmed through.

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