For fluffy, pudding-like sweet potatoes, steam them! The method offers extreme speed and high hydration, which means that whatever you cook—from seasonal vegetables to proteins—will be done quickly and always moist. You may think the tahini and butter will never combine with the liquids. Don’t give up; it will happen. This recipe is from Where Cooking Begins by Carla Lalli Music.
Preheat oven to 400°. Roast sweet potatoes on a small rimmed baking sheet until skins are browned and potatoes are tender all the way through, about 45 minutes. Remove from oven and, using a heavy spatula or small pot lid, smash potatoes, then drizzle with 1 Tbsp. oil; season with salt. Continue to roast until flesh is lightly browned, 12–15 minutes longer.
Every Wednesday night, Bon Appétit food director Carla Lalli Music takes over our newsletter with a sleeper-hit recipe from the Test Kitchen vault. It gets better: If you sign up for our newsletter, you’ll get this letter before everyone else.
I have sweet potato regret
There’s a saying in my family that my mom definitely invented called “not-shopper’s regret.” It’s when when you see something in a store that you like and want—say, the perfect shoe in your size—but then, for whatever reason, don’t buy. And then you regret it, and it becomes a torture and a torment. The lesson is that it is better to have shopped and returned than never to have shopped at all. Remember that.
Right now I am in the throes of “not-cooker’s regret” and it’s because we didn’t make these twice-cooked sweet potatoes for Thanksgiving. I know! I should just be grateful the bloating has gone down and happy that my socks aren’t leaving deep elastic crease marks in my calves anymore. But no—I’m in deep sweet potato turmoil, and it’s all my fault.
Last year, my dear colleague Andy Baraghani was working on the recipe for these alt-sweet potatoes right around the time that my Thanksgiving planning was underway. Because I loved them and because I wanted to do something different, I put them on our menu.
There are a million reasons why this dish could have scandalized several family members and had me banished from hosting for life. First of all, we already have a sweet potato dish we all love, a chipotle-spiked puree that my aunt makes, and no one in my family likes change. Secondly, the sweet spuds Andy was working on were baked, charred, and glazed with brown butter and honey before being served on top of an insanely garlicky puree called toum, which can cause fire-breathing in otherwise healthy adults. The whole situation is topped with nigella seeds, which look at first glance like black sesame seeds but taste a little bit like onion-pepper sprinkles. Let’s just say it’s wasn’t a very predictable addition to our Thanksgiving menu, which is harder to exert influence over than a hysterical toddler during a tantrum. But: my house, my rules. They made their debut.
The surprise was that everyone loved them. Like, love loved. My father, the stubbornest of us all, couldn’t stop with these sweet potatoes. He said things like, “Oh we always have to have those,” and “Everything was great, but that sweet potato dish!” I told Andy all about it.
And then, what happens: A year goes by and everything that was good became meaningless and forgettable?? I guess so, because I didn’t care enough to lobby for last year’s breakout star, and now I can’t stop thinking about the way the honey sticks to the charred surfaces, so that they’re kind of chewy and creamy at the same time. I miss the way you can drag a forkful of fluffy potatoes through the toum to get a perfect sweet-hot-spicy bite. I have special regrets about the way the narrow end of the sweet potato gets extra roasty and brown and candy-ish in the oven. And basically I’m just mad about everything. This is what it’s like to have not-cooker’s regret.
And that is why, now that the holidays are over and I am in charge of my everyday eating menu, I’m going to do what’s right. I’m going to cook these sweet potatoes tonight, and again this weekend, and another night next week, and for when people come over, and whenever the sweet potatoes are looking good at the market, and also for meal prep on Sunday, and any other time I please. I made a mistake this one time. All I can do is try to make it up to myself.
The most divisive food decision at Thanksgiving isn’t white meat or dark meat, pecan or pumpkin, stuffing inside or outside the bird. It’s if your guests are Team Sweet Potato With That Marshmallow Topping Situation or well, not.
Here’s a couple things we should hopefully all agree on:
Sweet potatoes can skew sweet or savory.
When you put marshmallows on them, they are a dessert.
If you want to serve them as a side dish with the main course, consider a more savory approach.
Enter, shingled sweet potatoes with harissa. Putting taste aside for a second, this is a superior sweet potato aesthetic—layered discs of sweet potatoes nestled close together to create the perfect messy-chic arrangement. It looks like something that takes a long time to put together, even though the mandoline really does most of the heavy lifting. You peel the potatoes, slice on the mandoline, and then stack ‘em like coins on their side in concentric circles.
This particular recipe leans a bit spicy thanks to a mixture of harissa, olive oil, and white wine vinegar. And, the dukkah (a mixture of pistachios, sesame seeds, and fennel seeds) add a nice crunch. It’s simple, it’s flavorful, it works.
But, if you’re really feeling the Thanksgiving spirit, you could use this as a (very good, rigorously tested) template more than a must-follow. As in, shingle your sweet potatoes with whatever fat you like, plus any spice combination your heart desires—just make sure there’s enough oil to keep the potatoes from drying out in the oven. And, as the recipe instructs, check on them every 15 minutes to brush any accumulated oil in dish back onto the sweet potatoes.
When it all comes out looking toasty and impressive, you’ll forget there was ever any other way to cook them. And your guests? Well, they won’t even miss the marshmallows. Sorry, marshmallows.
Every week, Healthyish editor Amanda Shapiro talks about what she’s seeing, eating, watching, and reading in the wellness world and beyond. Pro tip: If you sign up for the newsletter, you’ll get the scoop before everyone else.
I’ve been off the boat for nearly a week, and people are still asking if I have my « land legs back. » I tell them I was on a ship the size of a small country so I never really lost them. Back at the office, we’re churning out some pretty stellar Healthyish holiday recipes and plotting the Feel Good Food Plan for early next year. No spoilers, but it’s gonna be DELICIOUS. Here’s what else is going on:
This Week on Healthyish
On Monday we published a little story from Molly Guinn Bradley about trying the keto diet and a gallery of keto-friendly recipes to match. You guys were…extremely interested. Personally even the thought of such a restrictive diet makes me panic and seek bread, but I get the impulse to read about extreme ways of eating. Just know that Marion Nestle, our favorite no-B.S. nutrition goddess, would never mess with keto.
Make It Tonight
On Sunday, after a stressful, chore-and-work-heavy weekend, I threw together a version of these Healthyish sweet potato bowls, roasting the sweet potatoes instead of steaming them, and sauteéing the fennel and onion in ghee instead of leaving it raw. I cooked the ground lamb with this ras el hanout from SOS Chefs that I love, and more ghee, until it was extra crispy. I layered the lemony yogurt sauce over the hot sweet potatoes, followed by the lamb, and finally the cooked fennel with fennel fronds on top. It took barely any time at all, and it was the comfort food I needed. Hashtag sweetpotatoseason, ya feel me?
I love voting not just because it’s a right and a privilege but because my polling place is at a retirement home and I love a good senior-citizen chit chat like nothing else. I’m happy that we’re all reminding each other to vote on Election Day (Nov. 6, set that alert!), but PSA that showing up at your polling place without knowing what’s on your ballot is like showing up for the final without cracking a book. There are probably more races and measures than you realize on your ballot, so head to a site like Ballotpedia or BallotReady to see exactly what you’ll see on Nov. 6. (That’s next Tuesday, people.) Then do your research!
Meanwhile, toss pistachios, sesame seeds, and fennel seeds on a small rimmed baking sheet. Toast alongside sweet potatoes until golden brown, about 4 minutes. Let cool, then transfer to spice mill or mortar and pestle and coarsely grind. Set dukkah aside.
As predictable as the moment you reach into your coat pocket and discover only one glove, we’ll be here to deliver fall’s first apple pie recipe. Well, not physically. You’ll have to make it. We were reminiscing recently about a fat slice of diner apple pie, served with a drooping square of cheese on top that doesn’t quite cover the crust, like a throw blanket on a king-sized bed. How could we recreate that savory-cheesy-sweet idea and transform it into something new and thrilling? Molly Baz was up to the challenge. Her recipe scatters finely grated sharp cheddar in the buttery crust, amps up the spices in the apples, and is served with a chunk of cheese à la mode. I don’t speak French but I think that checks out.
Let’s break it down in three parts.
Part I: The Apple Filling
“I don’t want to say…Yankee Candle…” Molly begins to tell me in a hush, “but the spices in the pie are very fragrant. If it were [a candle! shh!], it’d be called ‘Christmas by the Fireplace’ or some sh*t like that.” (Would purchase in every size, including the little car fresheners.) There’s a heaping load of cloves, cinnamon, and allspice in the apple mixture to balance the savory cheddar crust. A splash of whiskey in there really brings the fireplace, if ya know what I mean.
And get this: You mix the apple filling in a plastic bag, like a piece of meat you’re going to throw on the grill later. The recipe asks to let the mixture sit for at least an hour, or even overnight (which should be fine if you use hard apples like Grannies). The marinade sucks the moisture out of the apples, which sounds dry and weird but in fact what we’re preventing is a dry pie filling. You’ll put a bag of apples in the fridge and wake up with a bag of apples and all this liquid. Sweet. Then you mix the apples and all those eked-out juices with brown butter and cornstarch, and it thickens together in the oven.
Part II: The Cheesy Crust
Why isn’t there cheese in the filling, like other recipes for apple-cheddar pie online? “The filling is sugary and spiced,” Molly explains, “cheese melting in there would give it this mac and cheese quality that we didn’t want. We want pie.” Yes, we do. By incorporating the cheese into the crust, you “really get to experience the cheese,” which might be one of the most beautiful things Molly has ever said. It reminded us of our sacred cheese twist recipe, a buttery flaky cracker you never want to stop eating. There’s also a dash of whiskey in the crust, which takes the place of vodka (you could also use apple cider vin), as booze evaporates faster than water = maximum flake factor. You don’t taste it at all. Well, unless you pour some for yourself on the side.
Part III: Cheese à la Mode
The cheese we use throughout is Grafton Village’s 2-year cheddar, and that’s what you see served on the side like a stray roof shingle (mmm roof cheese) up top. “This isn’t the time for that expensive 7-year Gouda,” Molly advises, as it’s too potent to complement the sugary apples. The final cheese chunk on the side plays up the sweet and savory even more, and it’s a fun way to serve pie, so of all the things in this recipe you could skip (the overnight marinade, the whiskey, okay), don’t skip this one!