Hasselback is the Way to Go
A plain, baked sweet potato is a pretty great thing on its own. Just sliced or mashed, adorned with a little salt or maple syrup. But when it’s time to entertain, you want something with curb appeal. For a dramatic presentation, go for these Hasselback Purple Sweet Potatoes with Sage. If you haven’t encountered it before, the term “hasselback” refers to the method of slicing a whole vegetable into vertial slices, leaving it intact at the bottom. It used to be just potatoes, but we’ve been doing it to everything lately. In this recipe, a little bit of knife work transforms a brilliant purple tuber into a showpiece of a dish, and it’s super simple to make.
Purple Foods Are Special
If you haven’t worked with them, they are a little denser and drier than your usual, orange sweet potato. They don’t seem to get as huge as the Garnet Yams and other sweet potatoes I buy. They take a little longer to cook than other sweet potatoes, too.
These sweet potatoes are swirled with deep purple, with layers of lighter flesh in between. Once they are cooked, the lighter areas are tinted to match. The purple pigment is made up of anthocyanin, a potent antioxidant. It’s also gorgeous.
How to Hasselback
I used a pair of chopsticks to help me make the hasselback shape, Holding the sticks on each side of the tuber kept my knife from cutting all the way through. Easy.
For this presentation, I fitted my sweet potatoes into a casserole before cutting them, just to get the size right. As you can see, I had room between the sweet potatoes for some herb-laced onions, and I did fill in with one small orange sweet potato. You can easily make these in any amount, just fit the sweets in the pan and fill the space with sliced onions.
For the purely plant based joy of it, I warmed some chopped sage in olive oil and basted the slices with it. Salt and pepper are essential, when you are making something so simple. Of course, you could add slivered garlic, chilis, or other seasonings.
There’s a Reason for All That Slicing
Once the slices of sweet potato are properly basted, just cover and bake in a 400 degree oven for about 40 minutes. That will make sure the sweet potatoes are nice and tender. Another basting with oil and herbs, and a quick turn under the broiler will brown it just enough to give you a little crispiness on top.
Of you wanted to sprinkle with some oiled crumbs, finely chopped nuts, or shredded cheese, it would be lovely. Just don’t burn them under the broiler.
This is the season to show off your skills with sweet potatoes and other winter veggies. Sharpen up that Chef’s knife and give this one a twirl, you’ll love it.
Hasselback Purple Sweet Potatoes
- 6 medium Purple Sweet Potatoes
- 1 large onion slivered
- 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary chopped
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/3 cup fresh sage chopped
- 1 teaspoon coarse salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- rosemary and sage sprigs for garnish
- Preheat the oven to 400 F. Get a 9x13 casserole pan and foil to cover it.
- Arrange your sweet potatoes in the pan, then take each one out, peel it, and do the cuts as follows. Shave off a thin slice from the side that you want to rest on the pan. Place that side down on the cutting board and place two chopsticks on either side of the sweet potato, to use as a knife-stop. Carefully grip the chopsticks and the sweet potato and use your knife to slice down, but not through, at 1/4-inch intervals. Place the potato back in the pan and continue until all are done.
- Mix the onions with a tablespoon of olive oil and the rosemary, and a pinch of the salt. Sprinkle between the potatoes. In a small pot, warm the remaining olive oil, sage, salt and pepper. Use a pastry brush to baste the potatoes, opening the slices as much as possible without breaking. You can pick each one up and bend it back slightly to open, then paint into the slices. Reserve a couple of tablespoons of the seasoned oil.
- When all the sweet potatoes are seasoned and in the pan, cover with foil and bake for about 45 minutes. The sweet potatoes should be tender when pierced with a knife, in the center of a thick slice.
- Uncover, baste again with the reserved oil, and turn on the broiler. Slide the pan under the broiler, watching closely, and take out to baste again every minute or so. It won't take more than 3 or 4 minutes to brown the tops.
- Garnish with rosemary and sage sprigs. Serve hot.