Monday, April 7, 2014

Simply Roasted Sweet Potato

If I were to keep a master list of my favorite foods [cue sound of safe combination unlocking], sweet potatoes would sit pretty near the top.  Mashed, pureed into a soup, baked into a quick bread or muffin, made into fries, or plainly roasted, there is something undeniably comforting and satisfying about them.  And while I enjoy all these variations, I do lean pretty heavily towards roasting them whole, whether I'm cooking for others or just for myself.  It's just so simple, unfussy, quick, and a wonderful way to preserve and honor the beauty and nutrition of the sweet potato as it is.  And surprisingly, this way of preparing them seems to draw the most "ooooohs" and "aaaaahs."   People wonder how I was able to cook the sweet potato so perfectly and with so much flavor, and when I tell them the three easy steps, they always seem to be waiting for the catch.  

But there is no catch.  Just easy, honest cooking, allowing the ingredient to speak for itself.

Roasted Sweet Potato
Gluten-Free & Vegan

Active Prep Time:  less than 5 minutes
Inactive Prep Time:  none
Cooking Time:  25-60 minutes (depending on size and number)

sweet potato(es)
oil, for roasting

What you'll need:  Vegetable scrubbing brush, baking pan/dish, parchment paper

1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2.  If using more than one sweet potato, try and make them roughly equal in size and proportion to encourage even roasting.  I would also highly recommend using organic sweet potatoes.  Wash well and scrub to remove any soil or debris.  Pat dry.
3.  Line baking dish with parchment paper.  Arrange sweet potatoes on lined baking dish and add about 1/2 teaspoon of cooking oil to each sweet potato and rub onto skin.
4. Once oven has reached temperature, place baking dish on the center rack of the oven.
5.  As it roasts, you may notice the sweet potatoes plumping slightly as steam builds up within the skin.  As the cooking process continues, there may be areas, particularly where the sweet potato is touching the baking dish, where caramelized sugar begins to bubble out.
6.  On average, 25-35 minutes of roasting yields lightly firm flesh that is fork tender.  You could allow it go longer, resulting in much softer flesh and a richer, more caramelized flavor, perfect for mashing or pureeing.
7.  Once finished to your liking, allow to cool and either peel and enjoy or serve them skin on.

Clean up time for these Garnet and Jewel sweet potatoes.

Oiled and ready to roast.

Out of the oven and plump full of steam and exquisitely aromatic.

Wrinkling in skin as they cool and the steam within subsides.

In the past, I had learned to wrap my sweet potatoes or potatoes in foil and then poke through the foil with a fork to create vents in the skin.  And then I would wait...and wait, as cooking time would extend much longer than expected, often needing to raise the oven's temperature to cook the potato all the way through.  [scratches head]  Now, I know there is a far better way to do it, using the moisture that is already within the sweet potato itself to steam cook from the inside.  The skin is the "foil," and by keeping it intact, cooking time and temperature are not only reduced, but more moisture is preserved within the flesh yielding a sweet, creamy, rich texture without adding fat or sugar.

Rich in Vitamin A, and a great source of Vitamin C, potassium, and manganese, sweet potatoes offer an array of health benefits.  Anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, alkaline, and blood sugar regulating to a certain extent, sweet potatoes of all colors and varieties are always welcome on my table, well beyond the feasts of the Holidays.  And hopefully after learning just how easy and quick roasting sweet potatoes can be, you will feel the same way.


  1. I eat them almost everyday- the yam, the yellow, the Japanese (my favorite for coconut oil fries)...I don't know what I would do without these brilliant pieces of alkaline goodness! Haha- Thanks for the simple yet sweet recipe- I usually cook them with foil so I'll try this plain style for lunch today :)

  2. I'm having a duh moment right now with the foil. I've always wrapped them in foil when I roast them whole. You can bet I'm trying this the next time. : D


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