26 March 2009

Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Pineapple with Macadamia Nuts


Until a few years ago I didn’t know that I liked sweet potatoes. Until then I had only ever seen them on the table in a Thanksgiving casserole where they came out of a can and went into a dish along with brown sugar, a stick of butter and lots of little marshmallows on top. The sweet soggy smell was enough to warn me away. A small taste revealed an unpleasant mushiness and a singular overpowering and unnatural sweetness. I wondered, if they were really “sweet” potatoes, then why did they need all of the marshmallows and sugar anyway?

In the way that many traditions are passed down, without true understanding, I made that same casserole, that same way, after I began to cook my own Thanksgiving dinner. Every year I baked it and put it on the table. Some of my guests even ate it. I never touched a bite.

Then one evening I ate dinner with my sister-in-law. She served sweet potatoes in their jacket, just like any old Idaho potato, rubbed with a little oil and baked until tender. Intrigued, I tasted it. Surprised, I found that it was good!

Finding that it wasn’t the sweet potato itself that was the problem with those casseroles from my childhood, I began to look for sweet potato recipes that added no more than moderate amounts of fat and little sugar, relying instead on the sweet flavor of those earthy gems themselves. Better yet, I tried recipes that added savory ingredients, fresh herbs and exotic spices.

Now I love sweet potatoes and eat them often. Fresh, they are a nutritional powerhouse and are delicious cooked many different ways. My latest favorite pairs sweet potatoes with pineapple and macadamia nuts suggesting warm island breezes. Both the sweet potatoes and the pineapple are brushed with a savory herbed balsamic dressing and roasted, then tossed with candied macadamia nuts for a contrasting crunch.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Pineapple
with Macadamia Nuts


2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut in 1 inch cubes
1/2 of a ripe pineapple, trimmed, cored and cut into 1 inch chunks
2 T balsamic vinegar
2 T olive oil
½ teaspoon ancho chile powder (or red pepper flakes)
½ teaspoon rosemary, minced
½ teaspoon lemon thyme, minced
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

1 T brown sugar
1 T butter
½ cup macadamia nuts

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Place sweet potato pieces on a lightly oiled rimmed baking sheet.

Whisk together the vinegar, olive oil, ancho chile powder, rosemary, lemon thyme, salt and pepper. Brush half of the vinegar and oil mixture over the sweet potatoes and turn to coat.

Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes.

Meanwhile - melt 1 Tablespoon butter in a small non-stick skillet over medium-low heat. When the butter is melted add 1 Tablespoon of brown sugar and stir to combine.

Add the chopped macadamia nuts to the skillet and stir to coat with the butter and sugar. Continue stirring over medium-low heat until the nuts begin to brown slightly. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

When the sweet potatoes have baked for 25 minutes - remove the pan from the oven. Add the pineapple chunks to the baking sheet. Brush the sweet potatoes and pineapple with more of the vinegar and oil mixture.

Place the baking sheet back in the oven for 15 minutes more.

Remove from oven. Transfer the sweet potatoes and pineapple to a serving dish and sprinkle the nuts on top.

Serve and enjoy!


Note: This makes a great side dish but can also be served as a salad on a bed of romaine lettuce.

To make it a main course, cut honey ham or sliced chicken breast from the deli into half-inch strips and add them on top of the sweet potatoes and pineapple during the last 5 to 10 minutes of roasting.

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

this looks great! and i hate sweet potatoes..maybe you'll convert us all!

Ricki said...

Sweet potatoes are my favorite veggie--I don't even really think of them as a veg since they're so sweet and delicious! This looks great--a perfect combination of ingredients. Glad you "discovered" the s.p.!

Cathy said...

Wow, Lisa, this looks fantastic. I saw some beautiful pineapples in the market this week. I'll definitely give this a try. I've always loved sweet potatoes but usually serve them only around the holidays.

This would be great with grilled chicken.

Mary said...

What a great combination! There's not a thing in this dish I don't like.

Elyse said...

What a great combination! I never would've thought to put sweet potatoes and pineapple together, but now that you've shown me these yummy pics, I know I have to try it!

Lisa@The Cutting Edge of Ordinary said...

I could eat that whole bowl. Looks delicious!

Pam said...

Well, I just found what to do with the rest of my macadamia nuts!!

chuck said...

Lisa, I like the idea of adding fresh pineapple, balsamic vinegar and the chili powder to the sweet potatoes. A wonderful combination I'm sure. I will have to remember this.

Grace said...

i love putting crushed pineapple in my sweet potato casserole, but i usually top it with pecans. you'd better believe i'll be trying macadamias next time--great dish!

Oakley Rhodes said...

oh, wow, this looks amazing.

I'd never think to put those ingredients together - I have the same phobia of sweet potatoes and marchmallows, so putting anything sweet with them is a bit scary - but this looks exotic and delicious!

Donna-FFW said...

What an awesome combination, love it. Such great flavors. Terrific! And so pretty.

MaryBeth said...

I really like your site and love that you are a close neighbor so I have just added you to my favorite sites!!

noble pig said...

You should really enter these in to our Potato Ho Down becuase they are so awesome!!!

Monica said...

I love sweetpotatoes and now I have a new recipe! Anne told me about your website and I am thrilled to be able to follow you and your family after all of these years!