Fall Fest: Sweet, Sweet Tater Mine…

by paige on November 17, 2010

EVERY YEAR THIS time, I start to experience subtle, creeping dread. It has to do with Thanksgiving, and it’s not fear of the turkey. No, I’m stopped in my tracks by marshmallow, maple, sugary peril: fear of the sweet potato cliché that dominates Thanksgiving tables coast to coast. I just can’t do it, folks: I like sweet, sure, but it has a place, and it’s NOT as cloud cover over a perfectly good casserole full of vegetables. I’ve come up with a solution, thanks to a dish served a few weeks back by a new friend.

It was one of those blind-date dinner parties: our husbands were friends; all our friends were friends, but we, the two women in question? We’d managed to never really meet. “Wouldn’t it be hilarious,” one mutual friend mused that afternoon, “if you guys totally hated each other?” Um, NO, it wouldn’t. I was a little nervous, and so was she. We had nothing to fear: it was love from the minute I stepped into her kitchen and she put me to work finishing her roasted sweet potatoes. Tossed with olive oil, roasted until soft and crisp, they had shallots and pecans nestled in among them, she instructed me to add a sprinkling of tart blue cheese just before serving. They were heaven on a plate, and I begged for the source. “Cooks Illustrated,” said she, and the conversation turned to other subjects.

Back at home, I searched. And searched. And searched. Nowhere, NOWHERE could I find anything resembling what she served. So I made it up as I went along, and a try or two later, at the urging of my husband, mother and, oh my, even my children, this is the Thanksgiving sweet potato side my family is going to call their own.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Pecans and Blue Cheese
Serves 6

4-5 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1/2 dice
1 T olive oil
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
a few grinds of good black pepper
4 slices thick bacon, cut into 3/8 inch wide strips (across the slice, not along it), cooked until just crisp and drained on paper towels
6 shallots, peeled, trimmed and quartered
3/4 cup pecan halves
2 ounces firm blue cheese, crumbled

Preheat the oven to 425 F. Toss the potatoes and shallots with the olive oil, thyme and salt and pepper. Place on a rimmed cookie sheet and roast in the oven, stirring several times, for about 40 minutes or until nicely browned and starting to get crunchy, but still soft within–in other words, don’t dry them out!  Add the pecans and bacon, and roast for another 10 minutes. Remove from oven, sprinkle with the blue cheese and serve. Wait for the praise that is certain to come your way

Like all good things, Fall Fest must come to an end, and ours is approaching. So don’t miss out on all the goodness from my fellow foodies:

Todd and Diane, White On Rice Couple: Sweet Potato Molasses Cookies

Nicole from Pinch My Salt: Cumin-Scented Sweet Potato Hash

Michelle at Cooking Channel: Sweet Potato Cupcakes With Marshmallow Topping

Kirsten at Food Network: Sweet Potato Thanksgiving Sides

Roberto at Food2: Sweet Potato Gnocchi

Liz at Healthy Eats: Sweet Potatoes 5 Ways

Caroline from The Wright Recipes: Sweet Potato Galette</

Margaret at A Way to Garden: 9 Things I Learned From Sweet Potatoes (and a Curry)

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Rachel November 17, 2010 at 11:56 am

I love sweet potatoes – sweet or savory! This dish sounds like a delicious, simple combo.
I’m bummed that I didn’t get my act together to do a sweet potato dish for Fall Fest this week. But…I did make a yummy twist on sweet potato pie a while back that I’m itching to make again!

bavaria November 17, 2010 at 1:05 pm

I’m with you! Those candied sweet potato dishes give me the willies. Savory and sweet, what could be better?

KathleenC November 17, 2010 at 3:04 pm

Yum! A cooking blog called Smitten Kitchen just did a similar recipe; she roasted slices of the sweet potato then topped the coins with a mix of celery, pecans, cranberries, shallots and goats cheese.
I love sweet potatoes at all times of the year… so good to learn more tasty ways of serving them!

Kathleen November 18, 2010 at 6:09 pm

Great recipe, want right now, thank you. I cannot do the sweet stuff with sweet potatoes either. Still looking for my fav. souffle recipe. Sweet potatoes for all meals would be a good idea.….

Tammy November 19, 2010 at 7:39 pm

Dear God, you have saved me! I wanted to make sweet potatoes for Thanksgiving, but just couldn’t find the “right” recipe. This one is will be perfect. Thanks!

hilary November 24, 2010 at 2:23 pm

i am making this and toasting you. i miss you. but you will be at our table via your recipe. xo

Kathleen November 26, 2010 at 8:59 am

I made your recipe yesterday and it was perfect. Thank you again.

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