I grew up eating sweet potatoes one way–candied. My mom prepared them every Thanksgiving and Christmas with brown sugar, cinnamon, a little Karo syrup and lots of butter and marshmallows. To this day, that’s still my favorite way to eat them. I’m sure it’s partly because that dish is tied to so many fond memories of my family gathered around the holiday table and partly because sweet potatoes baked with a heavy glaze of sugar and spice and everything nice are so doggone good! Over the years, I’ve discovered other delicious ways to prepare them–ways that are, shall I say, a little easier on the waistline. Grilling sweet potatoes, for instance, brings out their natural sugars. The potatoes end up deeply caramelized on the outside and soft and smoky on the inside. They’re great right off the grill and even better tossed with a tangy–and slightly sweet–dressing. I love to eat them alongside barbecued ribs or smoked brisket.
If you’re making this dish for company or simply want to get a head start on your meal, you could parboil the sweet potatoes before throwing them on the grill. To do that, place the potato slices in a pot of salted water and boil until fork-tender (about 10 minutes)–don’t overcook them or they’ll fall apart on the grill. While this do-ahead step will cut the grilling time in half, it won’t produce the same deep-smoky-caramelized-effect you’ll get from cooking the sweet potatoes entirely on the grill.
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with Honey Dijon Vinaigrette Recipe
4 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch slices
8 green onions, trimmed
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons honey
Salt and pepper to taste
Place sweet potatoes, green onions and 1/4 cup olive oil in a large resealable plastic bag. Seal bag; toss to entirely coat potatoes and onions with oil. Preheat grill for direct cooking over high heat. Place sweet potatoes on grill. Cover and grill 2-3 minutes per side or until nice grill marks appear. Reduce grill temperature to medium. Move potatoes to indirect heat; cover. Cook until tender, about 20-30 minutes, flipping once about halfway through the cooking time. Add green onions to the grill about 5 minutes before potatoes are ready. Cook until softened and grill marks appear. Transfer potatoes and green onions to a chopping board. Slice green onions and quarter potatoes. Set aside. In a large bowl, combine mustard, vinegars and honey. Gradually whisk in reserved 1/2 cup olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add grilled green onions and sweet potatoes to vinaigrette. Toss to coat. Serve warm. Serves 4-6.
Recipe adapted from Bobby Flay’s “Boy Meets Grill.”