Cooking for Thanksgiving: Side Dishes

In keeping with the Thanksgiving recipe series, this week, we're talking side dishes (and later, dessert!). After all, the countdown to Turkey Day is on! For appetizer recipes and ideas or to see the rest of the series, click here.

My mother has always prepared sweet potatoes for our Thanksgiving table. She never did anything fancy with them, usually just boiling or roasting them and serving them as is. I love my mom's sweet potatoes, but have always thought there was something fancier that could be done with them. Enter Real Simple magazine.

Last year, when I made the theme of our Thanksgiving holiday gluttony, I was looking for simple ways to fancy up my sweet potatoes. I perused my back copies of Real Simple and found this super simple recipe. Plus, the awesome thing is that you can actually make the syrup up to two days ahead of time, so that on the big day, all you have to do is clean your potatoes and throw them in the oven for an hour. Nice, huh?

Vanilla Sweet Potatoes

  • 10 small sweet potatoes
  • 1 1/2 cups maple syrup
  • 1 6-inch vanilla bean
  • 1 teaspoon whole cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (you can also cook the potatoes with the turkey by placing them directly on the rack).

  • 2. Clean the sweet potatoes, piercing each one with a fork.

  • 3. Bake the potatoes 45 minutes to 1 hour or until fork-tender.

  • 4. Combine the maple syrup, vanilla bean, and cloves in a glass measuring cup or microwave safe bowl for 5 minutes. You can also heat the syrup, vanilla bean, and cloves in a small saucepan, letting the ingredients simmer for 5 minutes. (Again, this syrup can be made up to 2 days ahead.) Strain out the vanilla bean and cloves.

  • 5. Remove the potatoes from the oven. Let them cool a little bit, then cut each one lengthwise into 4 wedges. Arrange on a serving dish, sprinkle with the salt, and pour the syrup over them. Or, you can serve the syrup on the side, which is what I did last year.

Serves 10

These potatoes are so, so yummy. They almost taste like candy! And I cannot emphasize enough how EASY they are to make!

Check back later for our final recipe in the series: pumpkin cheesecake!

(Photo by Jim Franco via Real Simple)

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