The only time we had sweet potatoes when I was growing up was for Thanksgiving, or occasionally Easter. I guess sweet potatoes just weren’t in vogue 40 or 50 years ago like they are today. What a shame really – because what I wouldn’t have given for something other than Candied Yams as a Thanksgiving side dish! I’m not sure if other parts of the country ate them for the holidays like we did here in Iowa, but by the time my mom or grandma got done ‘doctoring’ up those mushy from-a-can yams I don’t they could even be counted as a vegetable anymore! And yep – they were from a can…yuk…drained and poured into a casserole dish. Then they were smothered in brown sugar and melted butter and baked until they were hot and bubbly. But then – because gobs of brown sugar and butter apparently wasn’t gross enough – the last few minutes in the oven they’d get topped with marshmallows and baked until they were golden brown. I think people like them for the precise reason I didn’t…they were sickly sweet and more like a dessert than a vegetable side dish!
Thankfully sweet potatoes today are treated with more respect than they were in the 60’s and 70’s! There are so many wonderful ways to enjoy the flavor and health benefits of sweet potatoes – roasting, baking, grilling, in salads and soups, fried, mashed…the sky’s the limit! And I, for one, frequently include sweet potatoes into my meal plans -only just the more modern versions. I think the candied yams of yesteryear should be left off today’s Thanksgiving menus in favor of an updated, healthier, definitely more delicious version like the one that I’m sharing today!
See…clearly sweet potatoes and apples…no disguising what you’re getting here with a bunch of sugar, butter and marshmallows!
With this dish there’s certainly no attempt to disguise the sweet potatoes- in fact – I want them to shine! By roasting them with apples and rosemary their natural sweetness is enhanced – not smothered. And when drizzled with the Maple Balsamic Reduction this dish becomes one of the best things I’ve
ever EVER eaten! Seriously this reduction is incredible! It’s sweet and tangy, thick and glossy, and the perfect complement to the roasted sweet potatoes and apples!
And just look at that perfect maple balsamic reduction!
Look how beautiful this dish is in it’s simplicity, yet it’s more than special enough to earn a spot on the Thanksgiving table – or the Tuesday night dinner table for that matter!
- 4 or 5 large sweet potatoes, cut into bite sized pieces
- 2 large apples, cored and cut into bite sized pieces
- 1 tsp dried rosemary
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus a little more for coating the pan
- 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
- 1 medium shallot, minced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- Pinch of rosemary, salt, and pepper
- In a medium saucepan bring vinegar, syrup, shallots, garlic, and pinches of rosemary, salt, and pepper to a boil over medium high heat.
- Reduce to lowest heat setting and simmer until the sauce is thickened and reduced by about one half - about 40-45 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit
- While the reduction is simmering, toss sweet potato and apple pieces with 2 tbsp olive oil, 1 tsp pepper, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1 tsp rosemary.
- Spread evenly on a baking sheet drizzled with olive oil and roast until tender and lightly browned - about 35 minutes.
- Serve sweet potatoes and apples drizzled with maple balsamic reduction.
- I don't peel my sweet potatoes - I just scrub them and remove any spots and eyes - the skins are delicious and full of nutrients!
- I make the reduction the day ahead and store it in the fridge, then re-heat immediately before serving.