It seemed strange, in the past week, to be testing a recipe for sweet potatoes as DT became leader of the free world and Leonard Cohen bid us farewell. The world is a much more worrisome place this week, but we have to hold on to the life we believe in, no matter how mundane, and move forward. So there you go: sweet potatoes.
As you probably already know, these humble spuds are a super food, rich in vitamin A in the form of beta carotene. They are also a good source of vitamin C, manganese, copper, pantothenic acid, potassium, some of the B vitamins, and dietary fiber. Despite their sweetness, they are considered to be low on the glycemic index. So any which way we want to eat these tubers is a good idea.
This simple but fantastic recipe, which has been tweaked by the New York Times and again by me, comes to us originally from Travis Lett, the chef at Gjelina, a popular restaurant in Venice, California. Gjelina is also the name of a cookbook published in 2015 to showcase the innovative, vegetable-centered food served there.
Sweet potatoes (Lett calls them yams but I’m pretty sure he’s talking about sweet potatoes) are cut lengthwise into wedges, tossed with honey, Espelette pepper and olive oil, then roasted in a hot oven until the wedges are crispy and caramelized and slightly charred. Their sweetness is sublime against the gentle heat of the pepper and the bright creaminess of the yogurt that’s dribbled over them at the end.
The Espelette pepper, or Piment d’Espelette, used in this recipe is red chili pepper powder that comes from the Basque country of southern France. Slightly smoky and only mildly hot, it is widely available in gourmet food stores. Try to buy sweet potatoes that are more or less the same medium to large size, and avoid the enormous ones. They do not need to be peeled.
These sweet potato wedges would go beautifully with roast chicken or alongside a salad. They would also be a great addition to a potluck dinner, or as part of a Christmas spread.
- 3 large sweet potatoes
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 tablespoon Espelette pepper, or crushed red-pepper flakes
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- ½ cup Greek-style yogurt
- 4 tablespoons fresh lime juice, approximately 2 limes
- 2 scallions, both green and white parts, trimmed and thinly sliced, for garnish
- Heat oven to 425 degrees F. Cut the sweet potatoes lengthwise into 4 wedges per sweet potato, (or 8 wedges, if they are very large). Put them in a large bowl, and toss them with the honey, ½ tablespoon of the Espelette pepper or crushed red-pepper flakes, and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Let sit for 10 minutes or so, tossing once or twice to coat, as the oven heats.
- Transfer the sweet potatoes to a foil-lined, rimmed baking sheet, season with salt and pepper and bake until they are deeply caramelized around the edges and soft when pierced with a fork at their thickest part, approximately 30 to 35 minutes.
- As the yams roast, combine the yogurt, lime juice and remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a small bowl, and whisk to combine, then season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
- When the sweet potatoes are done, transfer them to a serving platter, drizzle with the yogurt and garnish with the remaining Espelette pepper, the scallions and some flaky sea salt.
- Serves: 4 to 6 as a side dish