I love to roast veggies. I’ll roast just about any veg throughout the year. Nothing brings out the natural sweetness and deepens the complex flavors of veggies, like high heat. Apparently I’m not the only one who’s figured this out. I was flipping through Alice Water’s newest book “The Art of Simple Food” when I saw a great little passage that said something like, (imagine in Alice Water’s voice) “People ask me, what have you done with these vegetables?! (since I don’t have the book, I’m making this up from memory, but let’s imagine she then says) I respond by telling my friends, I drizzled olive oil and sprinkled salt over them and roasted them”.
Guess this roasting thing is catching on. Maybe thousand of generations of ancestors were on to something.
Aren’t they a beautiful color combination?
Recently I discovered something that just begs to be roasted. Japanese sweet potatoes. I found some locally grown spuds and have been popping them in the oven every week. I may have had them in vegetable tempura platters at sushi restaurants, but hadn’t seen them anywhere else.
They have the deep rust-colored skin of garnet or jewel yams, but the flesh is an opaque bright white. They are starchy and less fiberous than yams, but sweeter than a standard Russet or Yukon Gold potato. The sugars in the Japanese sweet potatoes caramelize in the oven and become a confection. You’ll hardly believe you are “eating your vegetables”.
So, if you happen to see them in your local market, give them a try. Both vendors I bought them from, didn’t know how to really sell their merits, so I tried them out, just hoping they’d be good. I had no idea they’d become a new household obsession. If you leave the skin on, you get even more nutitional goodness, but it’s up to you. I decide on a whim, each time I make them. No real recipe here, but something to get you started. By the way, this method is wonderful for any other root vegetable (carrots, potatoes, yams, beets…you name it).
Roasted Japanese Sweet Potatoes (about one medium sweet potato per person)
Japanese sweet potatoes
olive oil to coat lightly for better heat conductivity
smoked Spanish paprika (optional, to make things even more interesting)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wash sweet potatoes and cut out any bad stuff and eyes. Chop into big, even chunks for consistent cooking, and spread single layer in baking dish or on sheet pan. If using a sheet pan, you may want to line it with parchment so they don’t stick.
Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, tossing altogether for even distribution of oil and salt. Bake for 30 minutes.
Using a spatula or big spoon, scrape them up and move them around so more sides get direct heat. If it needs another little drizzle of oil so they don’t dry out, go ahead. Cook them another 15 minutes until tender on the inside, a little crispy on the outside, and delicious all the way through.
Sprinkle with a little smoked paprika and serve. (they are so tasty like this, when I made them last night, I hardly noticed there wasn’t any salt on mine)
Marc and I refer to these not-so-great-photos as “illustrative”, so that you get to see how they turned out, but the photo isn’t going to win any prizes or anything.