How to Roast Savory Sweet Potatoes

By Paul Thomas Zenki

Everyone asks for this recipe …

There’s this one dish that I know, if I haven’t made it for someone yet, they’re gonna ask for the recipe once they taste it. It’s that good.

And you can serve it with just about anything, frankly. It’s totally vegan but makes a great side for meats, a real all-occasions kind of thing. Bonus: When it’s cooking, the house smells amazing!

I’m talking about thyme-roasted sweet potatoes. Half a dozen ingredients, 40 minutes in the oven, easy breezy.

Here’s all you need:

  • 4 medium sweet potatoes
  • 3 Tbs. olive oil
  • 4 large garlic cloves
  • 1/3 cup fresh thyme
  • 1/2 tsp. coarse salt
  • 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes (or more, if you like it spicy)
A bundle of fresh thyme sprigs
Photo by Wikimedia Images

Now before you start on this, let me just say, you gotta use fresh thyme. Dried will not work here. Of course, with fresh, stripping the leaves off the stems can be a bit of work, and a third of a cup is a lot. So to it make it easier, here’s a little trick…

Grab a sieve or a tea strainer and poke the base end of the stem through a hole in the mesh. Then just pull it through from the other side. Voilà, fresh thyme leaves! Don’t worry if the sprig end snaps off, that’s OK. The tips are tender enough that once you roast them you can’t tell them from the leaves.

OK, set your oven to 450° Farenheit. While it’s heating, de-stem your thyme, then peel the sweet potatoes and slice them into 1.5″ thick medallions. Then put your garlic through a press, or if you don’t have a press you can mince it really fine. (Again, I recommend using fresh, although jarred minced garlic will work in a pinch. Don’t substitute garlic powder.)

Now all you have to do is toss everything in a bowl until the medallions are well coated. Then spread them out on a baking sheet or in a baking dish and put them on the top rack of the oven for about 40 minutes, until they’re nice and brown and tender. If you have any thyme left over you can add it for garnish if you’re feeling fancy.

There is something about the sweet-and-savory balance of this dish that creates a little bit of heaven on the plate. And like I said, the fragrance of the baking thyme is absolutely irresistible. I’ve never served it to anybody who didn’t like it.

So give it a try. Have fun, and enjoy.

Header image by Venita Oberholster

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Paul Thomas Zenki is an essayist, ghostwriter, copywriter, marketer, songwriter, and consultant living in Athens, GA.