Last year, we spent Purim in Asheville, North Carolina, by a friend of my husband. We drove about 12 hours to get there, the longest drive we have ever taken by car. It was actually not as bad as I thought it would be, but by the time we got there, I was definitely happy to be able to stretch and sleep! Lucky for us, our friends, the Rabbi and Rebbetzin of Asheville, had set up warm and comfortable accomodations. Purim in Asheville was a lot of fun. My kids enjoyed the Purim party, a magic show, and an adorable play put on by the Hebrew school kids. Even better was the delicious food that the Rebbetzin, Chana, prepared during our stay. One evening, she prepared oven baked organic sweet potatoes as a side dish. This was not new to me, as my mother always made them growing up. However, the organic part definitely was. I was never into the whole organic trend. It’s expensive, hard to find in my neighborhood, and since I turned out fine until now, I figured I’d take my chances. But Chana had recently given birth to twins, and she wanted to eat clean and healthy during her pregnancy, so she adopted a diet rich in organic fruits and vegetables. Being as I grew up eating oven baked sweet potatoes, I knew how they were supposed to taste. So when I put a spoonful of the organic stuff in my mouth, I immediately tasted the difference. It was so fresh tasting, full-bodied, and over-the-top sweet! It felt like eating a decadent dessert! Ever since then, whenever I plan on making oven baked sweet potatoes, I make it a point to buy organic ones. I really taste the difference!
I wouldn’t exactly call this a “recipe” because there is honestly nothing to it. I just find that sometimes we get so hung up on finding “recipes” for things that the star ingredient ends up getting lost. We’re busy taking delicious, wholesome, healthy sweet potatoes, adding butter, brown sugar, eggs and cream (amongst other things) to make sweet potato pie. What happened to baking a sweet potato just as it is? It is so sweet and delicious, it literally needs nothing! Don’t get me wrong, just a few days ago I took perfectly delicious baked salmon and mashed it up into salmon patties. I do it too. But I’m just saying, we definitely live in a “kugel” society and it’s nice to eat a vegetable purely for what it is every once in a while!
Oven Baked Organic Sweet Potatoes
Remove the stickers from the sweet potatoes, wash well (so you can eat the fiber-rich skin later) and dry. Put in a 9×13 pan. Place in a 400 degree oven. (I used to individually wrap the sweet potatoes in foil but I find that they come out a bit more watery that way). I can’t tell you exactly how long to bake them, since it depends on the size of your sweet potatoes. I go by the smell test. When the smell of sweet potatoes starts wafting through the house, I know they are almost ready. It should take about 1 1/2-2 hours to bake. Just give them the squeeze test with your hand, and when they are very soft, and you can see the delicious syrup has started dripping out of it, they are ready!
Since we weren’t home to give out shalach manos last year, I made Purim cards and sent them to family and friends, letting them know that we gave a donation in their honor in lieu of shalach manos.
Here is the card we sent out: