The book: Eat Your Vegetables, by Joe Yonan (10 Speed Press, $24.99)
The recipe: Roasted sweet potato with coconut, dates, and walnuts
Why I tried it: I am not the sweet potato’s biggest fan. But I love coconut, and I’ve been carrying on a two-year affair with dates. With maturity, I’ve also come to forgive walnuts for not being pecans. Finally, I figured if anyone could sweet-talk me into eating my orange vegetables, it would probably be the infamously charming Joe Yonan.
Why I loved it: In just one bite, I was transported to some kind of tropical fiesta celebrating the coconut. Even though this recipe takes no more than 5 minutes of active time to put together, the riot of textures and different kinds of sweet made me feel like someone was throwing a party just for me. It was a feeling I enjoyed so much that upon discovering this recipe, I made it for lunch for a week straight.
Estimated preparation time: 45-60 mostly idle minutes depending on whether you use the microwave or the all-oven method. Once the sweet potato’s in the oven, you can deal with the walnuts and dates in no time at all and still have time to fit in an excellent cat video or two.
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Roasted Sweet Potato with Coconut, Dates, and Walnuts
3 tablespoons raw unsalted walnut halves
1 teaspoon virgin coconut oil (may substitute butter, olive oil, or walnut oil)
Kosher or sea salt
1 teaspoon finely shredded unsweetened coconut
2 or 3 pitted dates, preferably Medjool, chopped
1 tablespoon large unsweetened coconut flakes
Preheat the oven to 425°F.
Use a fork or sharp knife to prick the sweet potato in several places. Place on a piece of aluminum foil and bake until the potato is tender and can be easily squeezed, 30 to 40 minutes. (Alternatively, to speed up the process, the pricked sweet potato can be microwaved on high for 1 minute, then carefully transferred to a piece of foil and into the oven. Bake until the potato is tender, 20 to 30 minutes.)
While the potato is baking, sprinkle the walnuts into a small skillet over medium-high heat. Cook, shaking the pan frequently, until the nuts start to brown and become fragrant, a few minutes.
Immediately transfer them to a plate to cool; if you leave them to cool in the pan, they can burn. Once they are cool, chop them.
Transfer the sweet potato to a serving plate. Use a knife to slash it open, then spoon the coconut oil on top, mashing it in. Sprinkle with salt to taste, then add the finely shredded coconut, walnuts, dates, and large coconut flakes, and eat.
Reprinted with permission from Eat Your Vegetables by Joe Yonan, copyright © 2013. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc.