I don’t remember liking sweet potatoes until one year when I was in middle school. Middle school is all about reinventing yourself, right? It’s about wearing layers of friendship bracelets, trying on your friends’ glasses to see how you look in them, getting that atrocious haircut you’d hoped would rocket you to popularity. And so maybe it’s about trying out different kinds of food and seeing what you really like, just like Julia Roberts tried every kind of egg dish in Runaway Bride, to see which one she actually likes. (Had this romantic comedy been released by the time I was in middle school, Julia Roberts surely would have been my hero.)
So, my childhood memories, even my Thanksgiving memories, are completely devoid of sweet potatoes and then… BANG!… right about seventh grade, I was spinning the Lazy Susan in our kitchen, finding 28-ounce cans of sweet potatoes and making them the entirety of my lunch. At least I was getting plenty of vitamin A!
I have never lost my love of this delicious root vegetable, but I have stopped eating them out of cans and started experimenting with many different ways to cook them. Last Thanksgiving I discovered I could make sweet potato fries and dip them into chimichurri, and that has become one of my favorite ways to enjoy them. I’ve recently made roasted sweet potatoes with maple-bacon vinaigrette, a burst of fall flavors that I am certain will be this Thanksgiving’s sweet potato side.
- 2½ pounds sweet potatoes
- Olive oil
- ½ cup Bragg's raw apple cider vinegar
- ¼ cup water
- 2 tablespoons yellow mustard seeds
- 1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
- 8 ounces bacon, finely chopped
- 3 tablespoons maple syrup, divided
- Kosher salt
- Ground pepper
- Cut sweet potatoes in half lengthwise and then crosswise into ½-inch half-moons. Drizzle with olive oil on a baking sheet and turn to coat. Roast 40-50 minutes until all potatoes are soft. Salt and pepper them lightly.
- Simmer cider vinegar, mustard seeds and water until seeds are plump and most of the liquid has absorbed or evaporated, about 20 minutes. Drain and reserve any excess liquid.
- Fry bacon in a skillet until fat begins to separate, about 4 minutes. Add onion and cook until bacon and onion are crisp and browned. Add mustard seeds and cook about 1 minute. Remove from heat and add 2 tablespoons maple syrup and any reserved vinegar mixture. Mix bacon mixture into sweet potato mixture. Drizzle 1 tablespoon maple syrup on top.