Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Sweet Potatoes with Pecans, Goat Cheese and Celery

My favorite parts of a Thanksgiving meal:

1.  Gravy.
2.  Mashed potatoes (for the gravy).
3.  Green bean casserole.  
4.  Fresh cranberry sauce (on the turkey...with gravy).

Things I eat every Thanksgiving...because it is Thanksgiving:

1.  Sweet potatoes (always of the marshmallow variety at our house).
2.  Stuffing.
3.  Pumpkin pie.

It isn't that I don't like these things.  I just don't love them.  But I am a firm believe that they must be consumed on Thanksgiving.  The stuffing...I just don't get all that excited about it.  The pumpkin long as it is covered in whip cream.  The sweet did someone get away with making those part of dinner instead of part of dessert?  

I must start by telling a story about Scot's first Thanksgiving with my family.  That year, we had two full fledged Thanksgiving meals.  We were invited over to my Aunt's house but my family would never not make their own Thanksgiving meal too.  Anyways, at my Aunt's house, we were with a bunch of my extended family.  The food was all amazing.  The sweet potatoes finally got to table, started making the rounds, got to Scot, and he made some comment about how delicious they were.  Word got out that he had never had sweet potatoes before.  And he NEVER heard the end of it.  Even years later, they still teased him.  Poor guy.  Especially since they are now one of his favorite foods.  

In my family, sweet potatoes are a staple at the Thanksgiving table.  Although we have had them in various ways, the most typical is the marshmallow guy.  Which as I hinted at earlier, I strongly disapprove of that dish.  But whatever.  

This sweet potato dish is exactly what I am looking for.  Not that it belongs in a Thanksgiving meal.  Not sure about that.  But it is amazing.  Everything in the relish toppings is so perfect.  The celery, the nuts, the dried cranberries, and of course, the goat cheese.  And Scot rated this a 10.  

Sweet Potatoes with Pecans, Goat Cheese and Celery

1 1/2 pounds sweet potato, scrubbed, unpeeled, in 3/4- to 1-inch coins
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/4 cup toasted and cooled pecan halves
2 tiny or 1 small shallot
2 stalks celery
2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon dried cranberries or cherries (optional)
2 ounces firmish goat cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon smooth Dijon mustard

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Coat a large baking sheet generously with olive oil, about 1 to 2 tablespoons. Lay sweet potatoes in one layer on the oiled sheet. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Roast, without disturbing, for 15 to 20 minutes. Carefully flip each piece: the undersides should be blistery, dark and a bit puffy and should release from the pan with no effort. If they’re not, let it cook longer. Sprinkle them with additional salt and freshly ground black pepper and return the pan to the oven for another 10 minutes or so, until the undersides match the tops.

Meanwhile, prepare your salad. Chop your pecans well, mince your shallot, chop your celery and parsley, mince cranberries if using them. Crumble your goat cheese. If you, like me, got too soft of a goat cheese for mixing, set it aside and sprinkle it on top. If it’s firmer, stir it into the mixture. In a small dish, whisk together 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon dijon. Pour half over salad.

When the sweet potatoes are done, set a couple coins aside just in case the baby isn’t into the toppings. Lay the rest on a serving platter. Scoop a spoonful of the salsa over each round. Pour remaining salad dressing over top, to taste. Eat immediately.

(Servings: 2-3, Prep time: 5 min., Cook time: 30 min., Difficulty: Easy)

foodforscot Ratings:

Shanon (taste):  9/10
Scot (taste):  10/10
Effort:  2/5
Dishwashing Effort:  2/5


  1. it should be noted that it is cindy that never lets him hear the end of the sweet potato discovery. she brings it up even when he's not around. we could be talking about jumping rope and she'll bring it up. poor scot.

  2. We didn't eat sweet potatoes at my family's house either! I did try them though before I reached twenty :-) This delicious variety with goat cheese looks spectacular! It would probably get a ten from me too. Thank you for sharing! Have a great Thursday.

  3. Those look sensational! Best of all, no one else at my house likes sweet potatoes, so I won't have to share!

  4. I was never a fan of the marshmallow sweet potato thing until I added five spice powder to the marshmallows. It added enough spice that they were no longer cloyingly sweet.

    I do love this dish though. (Maybe minus the celery because I am SO not a celery fan.) It might just have to make an appearance at my next T-Day. If I can wait that long.