I am all about easy side dishes. I love reading cookbooks and food blogs full of gorgeous gratins, slaws, and the like, but I never get around to making them. On a busy weeknight, if I’m going to eat my vegetables and not resort to snacking on gingersnaps right out of the box, I need side dish recipes that don’t involve ten dishes and ten minutes of chopping. I also need recipes that don’t use too much oil or add too many calories to my plate. (Or I might as well just eat those cookies.)
This brings me to sweet potatoes. They’re so good for you with their lower-than-white-potato glycemic index. They keep for weeks in the pantry. And they are so dang tasty.
You can cook them plainly, but what’s the fun in that? After several microwave-baked sweet potatoes with butter in a row, I’m ready for something more interesting. The usual Thanksgiving treatment (butter, sugar, more sugar) is too decadent to have every day.
These spice-roasted sweet potatoes are a staple in both my kitchens: work and home. They take five minutes to prep, require one baking sheet that you can line with foil to minimize mess, make use of spices you’re probably not tired of yet (when is the last time you used ground fennel?), and they are utterly, unexpectedly delicious. I clipped this recipe from an old issue of Gourmet and have been making them for years.
The spice rub calls for hot pepper flakes. If you don’t like spicy foods, the amount can be reduced, but I don’t recommend leaving them out altogether. The hit of chile really makes this dish – just use a pinch if you’re worried. The sweetness of the potato will counter the heat.
If you want to make these often, keep a little jar of the spice mix handy to save time. You can make any quantity easily – just notice the 2:1 ratio of coriander to other spices. This mix also makes a great rub for steaks or hamburgers.
Spice-Roasted Sweet Potatoes
These potatoes hit all the right notes – salty, spicy, and sweet. The original recipe called for twice the oil. While oil can help crisp them up, I’m always looking for ways to cut calories and I am thrilled with this compromise.
adapted from Gourmet, January 2002
1 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 tsp. ground fennel
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. dried red pepper flakes
kosher salt, to taste
2 lb. sweet potatoes
1.5 tbs. olive oil
Heat oven to 425F.
Line a baking sheet with foil and grease lightly.
Mix spices in a small bowl. Set aside.
Cut sweet potatoes into wedges or a large dice. (Leave skin on.) Place on the baking sheet. Sprinkle with spice mix, olive oil, and salt. Don’t skimp on the salt. Toss to evenly coat and spread potatoes in one layer with space between the pieces.
Roast for 25-30 minutes or until tender. Flip potatoes once during cooking.