If you're not roasting your sweet potatoes in coconut oil, you should start. Tonight.
I don’t think I need to sell anyone on sweet potatoes. They’re nature’s idea of comfort food: warm, sweet, starchy, filling. They hold up well to toppings, but they’re also satisfying enough to enjoy just as they are. The only thing that brings them closer to perfection, at least in my opinion, is roasting them in coconut oil.
I’m always surprised by how few folks actually prepare root vegetables this way at home. If you’ve thought about it, but worry that the coconut flavor may be overwhelming, allow me to put your mind to rest: It’s not at all. The coconut will be mildly detectable, but only in a way that enhances the potatoes and complements their natural sweetness. Coconut oil holds up beautifully to high temperatures, and it works well with a wide variety of roasted vegetables (like broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, and beets). But I think it works best with roots.
A few tips: You’ll want to toss your vegetables in the oil before you bake them. This may mean melting a few tablespoons of oil, since it can be solid at room temperature. Also know that you can easily add depth and variety to the recipe by tossing your potatoes in spices before roasting.
My favorite way is the simplest (sea salt, pepper, coconut oil), but if you’re in the mood for something spicy or sweet, go crazy. Here are a couple of options:
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin, 1/2 teaspoon chili powder, and a pinch of cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 2 tablespoons fresh, chopped rosemary (or 2 teaspoons dried)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons maple syrup, 1 tablespoon grated orange zest, and 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons dried, shredded coconut (added 12 to 15 minutes before the potatoes are done)
Makes 6 to 8 cups
2 tablespoons melted coconut oil
2 pounds sweet potatoes, cut into 1-inch chunks
Coarse sea salt or kosher salt, to taste
Black pepper, to taste
Optional spices (chili, cumin, cinnamon, shredded coconut, etc.)
Photo by James Ransom