Of all the types of recipes out there, baking recipes can be the most cryptic.
After all, how often do you see phrases like, "Have ready 1/4 cup mirepoix in brunoise" in your standard...
Let's not pretend that Thanksgiving isn't a carb-fest. Between the mashed potatoes, dinner rolls, and legions of pies, you're probably not going to get away with keeping your paleo diet. Well, you might but I'm certainly not. I've accepted that I may get uncomfortably full on Thanksgiving, and I'm going to have two of my great aunt's yeast rolls because Thanksgiving is the only time of the year that I eat them. So there.
But there are little things that I have no problem saying no to because they're just not that great in the first place. Namely, sweet potato casserole. Don't hate me for saying so. Obviously, you can do whatever you want at Thanksgiving and forget I said anything. But jacking up sweet potatoes with lots of sugar, candied nuts, and marshmallows completely negates the existence of the sweet potatoes for me. I feel like I might as well just eat the topping off and be done with it.
I would like to reclaim the sweet potato for the savory camp. If I want sweet potatoes for dessert, I turn them into pie. As a side dish, though, they deserve a more subtle treatment.
For these Indian-spiced, twice baked sweet potatoes, I relied on roasted garlic for a deeply savory baseline flavor, and I added tempered spices to further enliven things. And because you almost can't have sweet potatoes without coconut, I topped mine with unsweetened flaked coconut--all the luscious coconut flavor and toastiness without a sickly sweet overtone.
More than anything, I hope this inspires you to take sweet potatoes back from the clutches of sugar, because heaven knows we're going to be eating enough of that anyway.
Other articles you might enjoy: Pureed Cauliflower With Caramelized Shallots and Fried Sage, Turned Roast Turkey, Whole Cranberry Sauce With Dijon and Walnuts
Preheat the oven to 375˚F. Rub with olive oil and salt and wrap in foil:
4 medium sweet potatoes (no monstrously huge sweet potatoes need apply)
Remove the outermost papery skin from:
2 heads garlic
Place each head of garlic on a square of foil, and pour about 2 tablespoons olive oil over each head. Wrap the garlic tightly and place them in a small baking dish or in a baking dish with the sweet potatoes.
Bake until the potatoes and garlic are very, very tender, about 1 hour. The garlic may be done in 45 minutes. Allow the potatoes to cool until you can handle them easily. You can also roast the sweet potatoes and garlic up to four days in advance. If you do this, be sure to unwrap the potatoes and garlic and refrigerate them within 2 hours of baking.
When ready to stuff and bake the potatoes, preheat the oven to 350˚F. Cut the potatoes in half lengthwise. Scoop out the flesh, leaving a 1/4-inch shell. Put the flesh in a food processor or a mixing bowl. Squeeze the roasted garlic out of its skin into the bowl.
Melt in a small skillet over medium heat:
1 tablespoon butter
Add and toast until fragrant and browned:
1/2 teaspoon whole coriander, crushed
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
3/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Add the toasted spices to the bowl. Process or mix until very smooth. Add:
Salt and pepper to taste
Process again to incorporate. Place the sweet potato shells in a baking dish. Scoop the puree into the sweet potato shells. Top with:
Unsweetened flaked coconut
Cover with foil and bake until warmed through, about 10 minutes. Uncover and bake until the coconut is nicely toasted, about 5 minutes more.