Recipe of the week: Sweet Potato Skewers from ‘Soul Food Love’

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Chicken peanut stew from "Soul Food Love." Photo by Penny De Los Santos.

Chicken peanut stew from “Soul Food Love.” Photo by Penny De Los Santos.

We’ve seen lots of healthy soul food books in the past decade or two, but none quite like “Soul Food Love: Healthy Recipes Inspired by One Hundred Years of Cooking in a Black Family” by Alice Randall and Caroline Randall Williams (Clarkson Potter, $30).

This mother-daughter team — one a bestselling author and songwriter, the other a Harvard graduate, poet and cookbook collector — has a powerful story to tell about the three generations of women who led them to where they are today: Building a path to the future of black food by digging deep into its past.

This health- and history-conscious approach to cooking is effective on its own, but the most compelling parts of the book are the nearly 80 pages of essays about the Randall family, which in turn chronicles a piece of American history in the 20th century that needs to be heard.

In addition to the fascinating family photos, former Austinite Penny De Los Santos photographed the dishes, which include a chicken peanut stew with a sweet potato broth (right) and these sweet potato skewers.

Sweet Potato Skewers

My stepfather grew up spending summers with his grandparents on the campus of Tuskegee University, where George Washington Carver was long a professor. The Carver Museum was his favorite hangout. Carver invented numerous items made from sweet potatoes, from flour and mock coconut to dry paste. He also created or popularized dozens of recipes involving the sweet potato. This is a sweet potato recipe George Washington Carver didn’t come up with! Onions and sweet potatoes complement each other perfectly, sort of like Mama and Bopy.

— Caroline Randall Williams

Sweet potato skewers from "Soul Food Love." Photo by Penny De Los Santos.

Sweet potato skewers from “Soul Food Love.” Photo by Penny De Los Santos.

1 large yellow onion
2 large sweet potatoes
1/2 Tbsp. paprika
1/2 Tbsp. olive oil
Salt and pepper (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Soak six 10-inch wooden skewers in water for 20 minutes.

Quarter the onion and break up the quarters so that you have two or three layers of onion per piece. Quarter the sweet potatoes, then chop them so each sweet potato yields about 12 roughly shaped chunks. Thread the sweet potato and onion chunks onto the skewers, alternating the vegetables, until the skewers are full. Put the skewers on a baking sheet, sprinkle with the paprika, and then drizzle with the olive oil. Bake until the sweet potato chunks are tender when pierced with a knife, about 20 minutes.

Our taste calls for no salt or pepper added to this one, but your taste may be different. Season with salt and pepper if desired. Serves 6.

— From “Soul Food Love: Healthy Recipes Inspired by One Hundred Years of Cooking in a Black Family” by Alice Randall and Caroline Randall Williams (Clarkson Potter, $30).


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