All photos: Elizabeth Stark
The best meals aren’t just an interplay of complementary and contrasting flavors, they also balance textures. In this regard, standard Thanksgiving fare comes up a bit short. Besides the turkey, everything else tends toward the mushy end of the texture spectrum — stuffing, mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie. All soft and crunch-less.
That’s why it’s important to seize any opportunity for crispiness, and sweet potatoes are an excellent place to start.
Sweet potatoes typically come to the Thanksgiving table in casserole form, topped with marshmallows or pecans. But I like to switch them out for roasted sweet potatoes, playing up their natural sweetness with tangy fresh apples and dried cranberries. A toasted oat topping swirled with maple syrup and cinnamon brings the crunch.
Subtly sweet and fragrant, coconut oil is a great vegan option. If you prefer, melted unsalted butter can be used in its place.
Cranberry and Apple Loaded Sweet Potatoes
4 large sweet potatoes, scrubbed
2 apples, cored and cut into ¼-inch pieces
¼ cup sweetened dried cranberries
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 tablespoons maple syrup, divided
¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon, divided
3 tablespoons coconut oil, divided
½ cup old-fashioned rolled oats
Preheat oven to 400°F. Poke sweet potatoes all over with a fork. Set on a rimmed baking sheet and bake 40 to 45 minutes, or until sweet potatoes are fork tender.
Meanwhile, toss apples and cranberries with lemon juice, 2 tablespoons maple syrup, ½ teaspoon cinnamon, and a pinch of sea salt, and set aside.
Melt 3 tablespoons coconut oil. In a small baking dish, toss oats with 1 tablespoon melted oil, 1 tablespoon maple syrup, ¼ teaspoon cinnamon, and a ¼ teaspoon sea salt. Slide into oven and toast for 7 to 10 minutes or until oats are a light golden brown. Set oats aside to cool for 10 minutes, then break up into clusters.
When sweet potatoes are cool enough to handle, slice down the center with a sharp knife. Use a spoon to scoop out several tablespoons of sweet potato to make room for stuffing. Brush sweet potatoes inside and out with remaining melted coconut oil and sprinkle all over with sea salt. Spoon 3 to 4 tablespoons apple-cranberry mixture into each of the potatoes and lightly press oat crumbles on top. Slide back into oven and bake for 10 minutes.
More side dishes that’ll shine on Thanksgiving: