I know I say this every year but I cannot believe Thanksgiving is almost here. Yikes! Not just because of all the preparing for the holiday — which is my favorite, and always cook way more selections for the table than I need to — but because it means Chanukah will be here soon, then Christmas, then New Year’s, then 2015!
Where is the time going??
The other day I looked at my 13 year old and had to look up. He’s so much taller than me! It then dawned on me life goes too fast … as fast as it goes I must say I’m thankful for the time spent with my loved ones on holidays like Thanksgiving. We get the whole family together, and I just look around and get this warm, fuzzy feeling inside my heart. Yes, that I am thankful for. And, I realize there are a gazillion other bloggers out there, and I am thankful to all of you who come visit me looking to see what’s cooking.
About this sweet potato casserole – I must tell you it is one heck of a side dish. It is good. Real good. Okay forget the modesty. I will shamelessly say, it rocks.
The toasted pecans and golden raisins in here give that oomph a casserole needs. Can I just say how incredible toasted pecans smell? Of all nuts, I think toasting pecans reminds me most of the holidays. No?
And eating them warm, right out of the pan, oh my goodness.
A distraction I must warn you about.
Yes, those ingredients do make this recipe fabulous, but that’s not why I say my dish rocks. Not very traditional, but I cannot make this without balsamic and orange extract. My secret ingredients. The tartness, and tanginess … you need to try this to see (and taste!) what I’m talking about.
It takes more time to peel and cut all that sweet potato than it does to cook. Can you believe it! And we always have the issue of oven space, with all the dishes that compete for oven time. This one is prepared on the stove, and can be kept in the oven to warm just before serving. An easier, quicker version of a casserole dish, well almost. It’s also one of those perfect make ahead. We actually have this throughout the year because everyone loves it so much. It’s not exactly like the Williams Sonoma Thanksgiving Catalog casserole on page 43, but more of my twist on their sweet potato casserole. Full of autumn flavors that I think you will enjoy as much as we do on Thanksgiving (or anytime) … enjoy!
P.S. – The next dish in the catalog that I am adapting is the mashed potato dish with shallots. Minus the potato. Stay tuned. It’s a good one.
3-4 tablespoons coconut oil
2 medium onions, diced
1 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
14 medium sweet potato or yams (about 6 pounds), peeled, cut into large 2 inch chunks – about 8 cups
1/2 cup pure maple syrup Grade B
2 tablespoons light brown sugar, packed
2 cups (about 8 ounces) raw pecans, chopped, divided
1/2 cup (about 2 ounces) raw pecans, ground fine before using
1/3 cup, organic golden raisins
1 teaspoon pure GF vanilla extract
1 teaspoon orange extract
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar,
Soak the raisins in a small bowl with filtered hot water, set aside.
In a large deep skillet set over medium high heat that is hot, add coconut oil. Add onions, stir to coat with oil until translucent, about 2 minutes. Add salt.
Meanwhile, toast chopped pecans in a stainless steel pan set over medium heat. Turn after a minute. When it begins to darken, and the oils begin to become fragrant they are ready to take off heat. Set aside.
Note: Watch the nuts closely, can burn very quickly.
Add sweet potato, toss to combine well. Stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Then reduce heat to medium.
Add maple syrup, brown sugar, raisins including the water, ground pecans, vanilla extract, and orange extract. Combine all the ingredients. Cover and let it cook another 10 minutes, or just until the sweet potato is soft enough to easily pierce a fork into. Add 1 1/2 cups of toasted chopped pecans, and balsamic.
Note: Keep in mind that balsamic vinegars that contain additional ingredients like caramel, flavorings, etc may contain gluten. Check with manufacturer to ensure it’s gluten free. They usually respond to an email quickly.
Take off heat and stir to combine well. Transfer to an oven safe baking dish (if reheating in the oven). Add remaining chopped pecans on top just before serving.
Note: I use organic ingredients for the most part, but leave that up to your discretion. Some foods are more important to buy organic than others, like raisins. They are heavily sprayed so try to buy organic, if available.
Note: To reheat, place in a 300 degrees F oven.
This recipe freezes well for a month in an airtight freezer safe container.
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