My dear friend Jane has always been an enthusiastic (if painstakingly slow) eater. But she never saw herself as a cook, per se. Once she had a family and didn’t have her all-consuming dot.com job, she applied herself the same way I witnessed her approach graduate school.
This time, her course of study involved subscribing to one of the first Seattle CSAs, recipe researching and trying new things–all in the name of making yummy and good-for-you meals.
Jane doesn’t do fussy, but her meals are as personal as her signature fashion sense. She strives for “healthy” without being earnest. I think that they strike that balance between scrumptious and nutritious as perfectly as middle C.
And she makes sweet potato oven fries often.
I’ve been playing around a fair amount with my own sweet potato oven fries to get them crisper. Mind you, they will never have the crunchy shell with fluffy interior of russets even when deep-fried.
Sweet potatoes have too much moisture and too little starch for that.
Besides, why should we try to make anything something it’s not?
Sweet potato qualities
Sweet potatoes have their own great qualities–their striking color, their ability to turn melting inside a crispy skin, their compatibility with a host of flavors and ability to go from dessert to appetizer and back again.
If you slick the pan with oil, give each wedge enough breathing room and blast them with heat (400 degrees F is just about right), their sugars will brown to sweet crispness.
They become irresistible for munching right off the pan.
Sweet potatoes take well to all kinds of spices and flavorings. I especially love them with Asian flavors that steer them toward the savory side and highlights their sweetness.
With this peanut dipping sauce, sweet potato wedges strike that signature Jane balance of healthful and delicious without calling attention to the fact. And it’s simple.
Finger food at its finest.
Baked Sweet Potato Wedges with Peanut Dipping Sauce
This is a terrific and unexpected appetizer that escapes any cheese-and-cracker rut. Plus, it's gluten free. The peanut dipping sauce is quick to mix up while the sweet potatoes bake. This recipe is adapted from Home-grown Harvest.
- 3 large sweet potatoes, cut lengthwise into wedges organic
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, for serving
For dipping sauce:
- 2 tablespoons peanut butter organic
- 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce low-sodium or tamari
- 1 tablespoon ketchup
- 1/2 teaspoon sriracha plus more to taste
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F with the rack in the upper position. Toss the sweet potato wedges with the olive oil and sesame oil and sprinkle them with the salt. Arrange the wedges on a baking sheet in a single layer. Bake until browned, turning once, 30-35 minutes.
Combine the peanut butter, lime juice, soy sauce and ketchup with 1/4 cup water in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer over low heat and whisk until combined.
Remove from the heat and taste, adding more soy sauce or sriracha to taste. On its own, the sauce will taste very tangy.
When the sweet potatoes are done, arrange them on a platter and sprinkle them with the sesame seeds and cilantro. Serve with a bowl full of the peanut sauce alongside for dipping.
For anyone sensitive to peanuts, substitute cashew butter or almond butter instead.