Roasted Sweet Potatoes: The mommy of invention

Sweet PotatoI’ve tried a few new recipes on my kids over the past few weeks with no success. I did have one happy accident, though, which makes me wonder whether I over-think these things. Here’s what happened.

We were having a happy hour play date. We do it all the time. We invite our kids friends’ families over, the kids play and the parents chat over drinks and appetizers. It’s a lot of fun. I like to think we’re part of the movement to resurrect the cocktail party. Most of the time, our guests are neighbors, too, so we get snockered and nobody has to drive.

Anyway, I usually buy a bunch of frozen apps, but that’s become more difficult now that I’m allergic to corn, so I’m improvising a lot. I had some steaks in the freezer and some leftover sauteed mushrooms. I decided to make skewers. One of our guests didn’t like mushrooms, so I thought I’d make some skewers with my roasted potatoes instead. I thought I had two red-skinned potatoes, turned out I only had one but I had a big sweet potato I wanted to use up. So I thought “What the hell?” Maybe I could be the mother of invention.

I cut all the potatoes int a one-inch dice, threw them into a plastic container in two batches, separated by type, poured some olive oil and spritzed malt vinegar over them and sprinkled chopped rosemary, thyme, salt and black pepper. I sealed the top and shook until everything was evenly distributed. I separated the two types of potatoes on my baking sheet because I didn’t know if they’d cook at the same rate and put them in the oven at 400 degrees for 45 minutes.

When I pulled them out and cooled them off, my daughter asked for some potatoes. Here was my chance. I gave her a regular potato first, then a sweet potato. This kid, who said “I won’t eat THAT!” to whipped sweet potatoes, ate one piece and said “Ooo, sweet potato fries!” and snagged another piece. I hadn’t tasted them yet and the bottoms looked burnt, but despite all that, they were successful. I tasted one. The bottom didn’t taste burnt, just caramelized. I’d used a jelly-roll pan but I usually make potatoes in a Pyrex pan, and that would solve the over-browning problem next time.

So here’s the recipe. It’s something I make all the time. It’s easy. Not a lot of hands-on time, but it takes a long time to cook. So give yourself an hour to make it.

Two 8-inch sweet potatoes, peeled and cut to a one-inch dice

1/8 cup olive oil

Malt vinegar

1 large sprig fresh rosemary, chopped, or 1 tsp dried

2 large sprigs fresh thyme, leaves stripped, or 1 tsp dried

1/2 tsp salt, or more to personal taste

Generous pinch of black pepper

(These herbs work on sweet potatoes, as would sage, but if you use regular potatoes, you can mix and match any combination of any number of herbs and use any flavor of vinegar, depending on the flavor profile you want. I use Mediterranean spices with Balsamic vinegar a lot.)

Put potatoes into a large plastic resealable container. Pour oil over potatoes. Spritz vinegar generously over potatoes — about 15 shakes. (If your vinegar doesn’t have a dispenser top, cover most of the bottle’s mouth with your thumb and spritz that way.) Sprinkle rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper over potatoes. Seal container top, and, holding top in place, (This is important. You don’t want oily potatoes all over your floor.) shake the container vigorously in all directions to coat potatoes. Pour potatoes into a Pyrex pan and arrange in one layer. Some of the herbs will have collected in the oil at the bottom of the container. Sweep them out with your fingers and attempt to distribute over potatoes in pan.

Bake at 400 degrees in center of oven for 45 minutes.

Serves 8.

You can, as I mentioned, use regular potatoes in this recipe. Another variation I like: add fresh or frozen vegetables to the potatoes container and shake together to coat. You can use it as a side or bake it with some whole sausages for a full meal.