THIS IS DIN­NER AND DESSERT

The Hamilton Spectator - - GO - MELISSA D’ARA­BIAN

The kitchen is my happy place, which is a good thing, be­cause I spend a lot of time in it.

It seems I’m al­ways ei­ther de­vel­op­ing recipes, or cook­ing them for a cam­era. And then there’s the notso-small mat­ter of cook­ing for my hus­band and four daugh­ters ev­ery day. Truly, I love it.

But to­day I’m shar­ing with you what I make when I’m alone; cook­ing for one. When I’m by my­self, I like some­thing easy to make and com­fort­ing, with­out be­ing junky. I turn to one of my favourite in­gre­di­ents that falls lower on my hus­band’s list: sweet pota­toes.

Sweet pota­toes are full of vi­ta­mins, es­pe­cially A and C, and min­er­als, have fill­ing fi­bre and even a cou­ple of grams of pro­tein per medium 95-calo­rie spud. Be­fore you panic about all the sug­ars in the sweet potato — it’s right there in the ti­tle — re­lax a lit­tle, be­cause that full potato has about 7 grams of su­gar. And, I’m go­ing to make both a din­ner and a dessert out of it, so per­son­ally I think those num­bers make sense for the sweet tooth it will sat­isfy.

Here’s the plan, which in­volves very lit­tle ac­tual cook­ing: poke a few holes with a fork into a sweet potato and bake it un­til ten­der (about 50 min­utes at 350 F, or eight min­utes on high in a mi­crowave since it’s just one).

Once it’s cooked, slice in half, cut a slit down the cen­tre of each half, and top with just the tini­est bit of coconut oil or but­ter, which will melt beau­ti­fully into the hot potato flesh. (You can skip this part if you are watch­ing fat in­take, but even a smidge of coconut oil adds a ton of flavour.)

Sprin­kle one side with cin­na­mon and top with fresh fruit and chopped nuts or seeds. Add a driz­zle of maple syrup if you are feel­ing fancy. Sprin­kle the other side with a lit­tle spice, like chipo­tle pow­der, cumin and hot pa­prika, or curry pow­der. And then top with drained canned beans, lentils, chopped left­over chicken or shrimp and some­thing crunchy like pepi­tas (pump­kin seeds) or cashews.

Place the two halves on the same plate, and there you have: a twocourse meal on one plate.

Per­fect for a Net­flix night alone. But you can eas­ily scale the recipe up to in­clude friends, should you de­cide to in­vite them.

Sweet potato, two ways MAKES 1 SERV­ING

1 medium orange sweet potato 1 tea­spoon coconut oil, di­vided Savoury: ¼ tsp curry pow­der ¼ tsp pa­prika 3 ta­ble­spoons cooked black beans, rinsed and drained 1 tbsp chopped cashews 1 tbsp chopped cilantro ½ cup baby spinach or other greens Juice of ¼ lime Pinch of kosher salt Sweet: 1/8 tsp ground cin­na­mon ¼ medium ba­nana, sliced 1 tbsp sliced al­monds 1 tsp maple syrup Pinch kosher salt Juice of ¼ lime

Start to fin­ish: 1 hour, in­clud­ing in­ac­tive bak­ing time

Prick the potato skin three to four times with a fork and bake un­til ten­der, about 50 min­utes at 350 F. (Or mi­crowave un­til ten­der, about eight min­utes, turn­ing over half­way through cook­ing.)

Slice the sweet potato in half length­wise, and cut a slit in each half. Di­vide the coconut oil be­tween the two pota­toes and al­low to melt into the flesh. Sprin­kle the savoury potato with the curry and pa­prika, and top with beans, cashews, cilantro and salt. Place on top of the spinach and squeeze lime juice over the whole thing.

For the dessert potato: Sprin­kle with cin­na­mon and top with ba­nana slices, al­monds, maple syrup, salt and lime juice.

Op­tional: if the oven is still hot, place the dessert potato in the oven for five min­utes, just to caramelize the ba­nanas a lit­tle. Place next to the savoury potato and en­joy your twocourse meal.

Per serv­ing of savoury op­tion: 305 calo­ries (88 from fat); 10 grams fat (3 g sat­u­rated; 0 g trans fats); 0 mil­ligrams choles­terol; 567 mg sodium; 52 g car­bo­hy­drate; 19 g fi­bre; 11 g su­gar; 12 g pro­tein.

Per serv­ing of sweet op­tion: 183 calo­ries; 28 calo­ries from fat; 3 g fat (0 g sat­u­rated; 0 g trans fats); 0 mg choles­terol; 282 mg sodium; 37 g car­bo­hy­drate; 5 g fi­bre; 15 g su­gar; 4 g pro­tein.

MELISSA D’ARA­BIAN, THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Sweet pota­toes are full of vi­ta­mins, es­pe­cially A and C, and min­er­als, have fill­ing fi­bre and even a cou­ple of grams of pro­tein per medium 95-calo­rie spud.

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