I love the bold, earthy taste of black walnuts – but seldom see them in stores, so I often forage for them. One of my favorite autumn activities is gathering black walnuts, hulling them (oh, what mess!), and then on a cold winter day cracking them to get the nut meats out. I now have a jar of black walnuts in my refrigerator so was excited to see a recipe for Walnuts and Sweet Potatoes that called for black walnuts in a hundred-year-old cookbook.
The recipe was delightful. It called for sugar instead of the usual brown sugar used in sweet potato recipes which allowed the robust taste of the black walnuts to shine.
Here’s the original recipe:
This recipe calls for a lot of sweet potatoes (12), so when I updated the recipe I reduced it to 4 sweet potatoes (2 pounds). After all the specificity about the number of sweet potatoes, the recipe was oddly unspecific about the amounts for the other ingredients. So when I updated, the recipe I also added amounts for the other ingredients. And, I changed the name from Walnuts and Sweet Potatoes to Black Walnuts and Sweet Potatoes to better describe the recipe.
Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:
Black Walnuts and Sweet Potatoes
2 pounds sweet potatoes (about 4 medium sweet potatoes)
3 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup black walnuts, coarsely chopped
Wash sweet potatoes and then place in a Dutch oven or other large pan. Cover with water and bring to a boil using high heat. Reduce heat and simmer for 25 minutes or until the sweet potatoes are tender. Remove from heat and let cool enough to handle. Remove skins from the sweet potatoes. They should slip off easily. Then cut the sweet potatoes in quarters and arrange in a shallow baking dish.
In the meantime, preheat oven to 375° F. Dot the sweet potatoes pieces with small pieces of butter, then generously sprinkle with sugar. Top with the chopped black walnuts. Put in oven, and bake until the sweet potatoes are hot, and the sugar is melted and bubbly.