This sweet potato walnut crunch recipe is great as a side dish. Serve it at home or share it with friends and family at a holiday gathering.
Dates add some natural sweetness and the walnuts add a nice crunch. Crunch is a good thing – toss in some walnuts and bring it on.
I’m a huge fan of sweet potatoes, but like a lot of folks, I tend to think of them only around the holidays. Why is that? I’m making a conscious effort to bring them into more recipes like biscuits – see sweet potato biscuits – or in recipes like this easy side dish.
I’ve also always liked dates, but I never used to have them around all the time. That changed when we bought a huge tub of them at a big box store a few months back. When we got home we had to figure out what we were going to do with all those dates. That inspired the oatmeal date nut bread, snacking on dates, and now randomly adding them to recipes like this one to sweeten things up a bit. That also led to buying and eating more dates. Yum!
Here’s all you need to make this sweet potato walnut crunch unless you want to add a little optional butter or margarine: one or more sweet potatoes, walnuts, and dates.
Did you know that walnuts provide several health benefits? I always knew they were good for you, but when I read this article I learned more about why eating walnuts is such a good thing.
Making Sweet Potato Walnut Crunch
Because “large” and “medium” might mean different things to different people, I weighed the sweet potato that I used. Peeled, it weighed one pound. That was pure luck for me, but it means that you can go to the store and get one pound of sweet potatoes and then go home and make this. If you use a little bit more sweet potato, you might want to add another date or two for sweetness.
This is so easy that it might take longer to read about it than to make it. You’ll steam the sweet potato cubes and the sliced dates.
After the potatoes and dates are steamed, mash that mixture, add a little butter, transfer it to a baking dish and put the walnuts on top. The dates might disappear into the mash but, rest assured, their sweetness remains intact.
Transfer the sweet potato mixture to a baking dish and add the walnuts. Bake for 10 minutes or until the nuts are crunchy.
This dish is a good accompaniment to any major protein and it pairs well with salads and other side dishes. I’m going to confess that I’ve had the leftovers for breakfast. With some hot coffee and a bun, it’s a great way to start my day.
Another feature of this sweet potato walnut crunch is that you can make it ahead of time and put it in the oven for a few minutes before serving. That’s a great option if you’re taking it to a gathering as your side dish.
If you buy more dates than you think you will use, put them in containers of about a half-cup each in the freezer and pull them out when you need them.
Easy Hack: Toast the walnuts while you’re mashing the sweet potatoes and dates. Then just sprinkle them over the mash and serve it right away.
Other holiday side dish ideas can be found in the five easy holiday sides post.
Sweet Potato Walnut Crunch
- 1 pound of sweet potatoes One large or two medium potatoes
- 2 ounces of dates 4 large dates or 8 small ones, or about 1/4 cup of date slices
- 1 cup of walnuts
- 2 tsp butter or margarine optional
Prep and steam instructions
- Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Peel one large or two medium sweet potatoes.
- Cut the sweet potato into cubes.
- Slice the dates.
- Add water to the pot you’ll put the steamer basket in.
- Put the dates and sweet potato cubes in the steamer basket.
- Steam for 7-10 minutes, depending on how soft you like the potatoes. Seven minutes should be enough time.
Mash and bake instructions
- Transfer the steamed potato and dates to a pot or mixing bowl.
- (Optional) Add a couple of pats of butter or margarine.
- Mash the cooked sweet potatoes and dates.
- Transfer the mash to an oven-proof dish.
- Put the walnuts on top.
- Bake at 350 for 10 minutes or until walnuts are brown and crunchy.
- For one pound of sweet potatoes, I used a 7 x 5 baking dish that is about 2 inches high.
- Medjool and Deglet Noor are common date varieties. I used two ounces of pitted dates. If you don’t have a scale, that is about four Medjool dates and eight of the Deglet Noor type.