When I was growing up, a lot of vegetables didn’t make it to our table, including parsnips, turnips, squash and sweet potatoes, probably because these weren’t familiar to my Belgian parents. And, back in the day, when I did taste these at other tables, they were usually boiled, under-seasoned, mashed to a pulp and utterly unappealing. Needless to say, these vegetables seldom appeared in my kitchen, until, that is, I discovered the magic of roasting.
It couldn’t be easier, as demonstrated by this recipe (I hardly dare call it that, but I’m going to anyway) for roasted sweet potato: peel, chop into approximately 1-inch cubes, strew with chopped garlic, toss in a modest amount of olive oil, sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper and roast on a baking tray covered with parchment paper, turning occasionally until caramelized and dreamily soft and tender on the inside. It’s even easier when you have a big strong guy to do the peeling and chopping for you (thank you, Culinary Enthusiast, for doing the hard labour and letting me rest my wrists!).
I roasted these in a 350ºF oven for about an hour, turning every 20 minutes or so. As you can see from the photo, we enjoyed this sweet potato along with pork chops that I seared, then covered in a zesty marinade and finished in the oven alongside the sweet potato. The tanginess of the marinade complemented the richness of the sweet potato. (I wrote about these Pork Chops with Pizzazz not long after I started blogging. Ah, the old days before I learned a thing or two about food photography.)
One of the advantages of roasting vegetables this way (it works very well with butternut squash and many of its squashy cousins, by the way) is that if you need a different oven temperature for another dish, all you have to do is adjust the baking time accordingly. In fact, if I were making these on their own I’d probably have the oven at 375º or even 400º, and reduce the baking time, but I didn’t want to overcook the pork. So, a little lower and slower for the sweet potato this time.
If you think you don’t like squash or sweet potato, like I used to, just give them a try roasted. You won’t be the first person that I’ve converted, and I daresay not the last either!