The pressure to share food that’s “extra special” can overwhelm even the best home cooks, but special doesn’t have to mean complicated. Roasted sweet potatoes can be dressed up with an easy-to-make, flavorful garlic oil that contributes all the complexity of a dish that requires a dozen ingredients. A final scattering of crisped sage gives a warming, festive feel but is optional on more laid-back days when you want a reliably healthy, nutrient-dense dish with no fuss.
Roasted sweet potatoes are a fantastic “gateway vegetable” to coax kids or stubborn adults into including more healthful food in their diets; the root vegetable’s sweetness doesn’t wreak havoc on blood sugar, and its rich supply of fat-soluble vitamin A is easily absorbed with the aid of olive oil. This dish is equally at home as a healthy holiday side dish or a regular weeknight staple.
Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Garlic Oil and Crisped Sage
- For sweet potatoes:
1/4 cup olive oil
3 garlic cloves
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced into 1/2–inch–thick rounds
- For crisped sage:
1/4 cup olive oil
12 fresh sage leaves
- Preheat the oven to 450˚F. Make the garlic oil by blending the olive oil with the garlic and sea salt in a blender until completely smooth. Coat the sweet potatoes with the garlic oil by tossing them together in a large bowl, and then spread in a single layer on a large rimmed baking sheet. Roast in oven until sweet potatoes are turning golden and tender all the way through, about 20 to 25 minutes.
- To prepare the sage, set aside a paper towel–lined plate beside the stove before cooking. Add the oil to a small skillet over medium-high heat, and wait for the oil to barely shimmer (watch closely to make sure that it doesn’t smoke).
- Add the sage leaves to the shimmering oil, stirring, for 30 seconds. Remove the sage with a slotted spoon to the paper towel–lined plate to drain the oil. If the sage leaves are not entirely crisp, return them to the oil for another 15 to 30 seconds.
- Serve the sweet potatoes on a platter or in a shallow bowl with the sage leaves scattered on top.
- Rosemary and Garlic Roasted Sweet Potatoes. Add 1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary to the garlic oil.
- Roasted Celery Root with Garlic Oil. Replace the sweet potatoes with an equal amount of celery root.
- Sweet Cinnamon Roasted Sweet Potatoes. For the sweet potatoes, omit the garlic, and mix the olive oil with 1 tablespoon maple syrup and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Instead of the crisped sage, garnish with 1/2 cup toasted and chopped pecans.
Make the garlic oil and cut the sweet potatoes ahead of time. Toss them together, and bake just before you’re ready to serve.
Sweet potatoes get their name from being sweeter than white potatoes, but unlike them, they help stabilize the body’s response to sugar and improve insulin regulation.
Rich in a vast amount of nutrients, sweet potatoes have particularly high doses of vitamins A and C, and in Chinese medicine are known to nourish and strengthen the digestive system.
If you’ve been disappointed by previous roasting efforts and wonder why vegetables roasted at home don’t measure up to restaurant quality, try spreading things out a bit. A well-roasted batch of sweet potatoes (or any roasted item) requires a gap between each piece. Spreading the cut slices in a single layer ensures that the hot air can circulate around them, bringing out crispness and natural sweetness from caramelization. If a pan seems too crowded, spill some over onto a second tray for next-level roasted vegetables.