Was thumbing through Gjelina: Cooking from Venice California (based on Travis Lett’s Los Angeles restaurant of the same name). Hailing from the East Coast, I’ve not had the opportunity to dine at his restaurant. In delving deeper into Lett’s book, I became enamored with his recipes (maybe I’m a West Coast girl at heart; I love surf and sand and a laid-back lifestyle — the antithesis of everything New York City).
Bookmarked several recipes that I can’t wait to try, but this one for roasted yams (I used locally-grown sweet potatoes since yams are not readily available here; yams prefer more tropical climates) with a chile-lime yogurt instantly caught my eye. This recipe has a bit of a Yotam Ottolenghi flare to it. Perfect for this time of year.
My initial thought was that the sweetness of the honey-marinated yams (in this case, sweet potatoes) would dominate the dish. However, the chile, lime, and yogurt provide complementary notes (savory, creamy, acidity, tang) to balance the sweetness. Of note, the honey helps with the caramelization of the sweet potatoes. The recipe calls for Espelette pepper (or crushed red pepper flakes), but any number of ground dried chiles would work.
Espellette is a pepper that grows in the Basque countryside of Southwest France. It’s flavor profile is most similar to paprika, a little bit smoky and a little bit sweet with a comparable heat profile.
I used a combination of urfa biber and aleppo pepper, two of my latest culinary discoveries. Urfa biber is really interesting in that it has a smoky, earthy, raisiny flavor (reminiscent of ancho chile), albeit with more heat. Aleppo is more fruity and a bit tart, with mild-to-moderate heat. I really like chiles and have a small, but growing, collection at home. No need to make a special trip to purchase specific chiles for this dish; a half-sharp or smoked hot paprika would be a suitable stand-in. If you’re feeling curious, definitely try urfa biber (I buy mine here and here).
The sweet potato wedges are briefly marinated in honey, olive oil, and ground chile pepper.
The roasted sweet potatoes are finished with a drizzle of chile-lime yogurt and thinly sliced scallions (creamy and tangy with a nice amount of heat).
While not part of the original recipe, I added a cilantro and parsley-based condiment called zhoug (recipe here), which lends a pleasant herbaceous note. If you want a little crunch, some toasted pumpkin seeds on top would be a nice touch.
Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Chile-Lime Yogurt
Adapted slightly from Gjelina: Cooking from Venice California
serves 2-4 as a side-dish
1 pound sweet potatoes (or yams)
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon Espelette pepper, or crushed red-pepper flakes (used a combo of Urfa biber and Aleppo)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
4 tablespoons fresh lime juice, approximately 2 limes
2 scallions, both green and white parts, trimmed and thinly sliced on a bias, for garnish
Flaky sea salt (like Maldon)
Zhoug (recipe here), optional
When the sweet potatoes are finished roasting, transfer them to a serving platter, drizzle the yogurt over them and garnish with the scallions and some flaky sea salt. Serve with zhoug (optional).