Roasted Curried-Vanilla Sweet Potatoes

November  2, 2012
3 Ratings
  • Serves 2
Author Notes

If you’re looking for a new twist on sweet potatoes, you owe it to yourself to give this a try. It was a real eye opener to me. I had always been one to kind of sneer at savory uses of vanilla, thinking it best to leave well enough alone and let vanilla work its magic in sweets. But after stumbling across a recipe for Curried Duck with Vanilla in the Washington Post from Andreas Viestad, who noted that "when the sweet flavors of vanilla interact with curry powder, both ingredients are transformed,” I was wholly intrigued. As much as I love duck, I decided to take a much simpler approach and try out this flavor combination with roasted sweet potatoes and shallots. I’m a sucker for sweet potatoes this time of year, and I thought they’d play well with the sweet-spicy notes of the vanilla and curry. To round out the flavors, I tossed the sweet potatoes with nutty browned butter and fresh thyme. The smell of them roasting was intoxicating, and the taste even more so. The flavors are familiar yet exotic -- quietly comforting yet attention grabbing. I’ll be making this dish a lot this holiday season -- and needless to say, I’m happy to have been proven so wrong about vanilla. For a simple variation, throw in a few handfuls of spinach before serving, letting the residual heat wilt the leaves. —EmilyC

Test Kitchen Notes

Headnote: This recipe has forever changed the way I think of vanilla. Its comforting mellow sweetness combined with the nutty brown butter to tame the curry just enough. This dish perfectly walks the line between fiery spice and sticky caramelization. When I tossed the remaining cubes in a kale salad the next day, they just won my heart all over again. Comments: A winner recipe for sure! The brown butter doesn't power through as a flavor, but I think it adds a lot to the background complexity. —chez_mere

What You'll Need
  • 1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks
  • 1 large shallot, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon mild curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/2 vanilla bean (about 3 inches in length), split lengthwise and seeds scraped
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 425° F.
  2. In a sauté pan over medium heat, cook the butter until it turns brown and nutty, about 6 minutes. Remove from the heat, and add the curry powder, seeds from vanilla bean, and thyme to the browned butter. Mix well, then add the sweet potatoes and shallots, tossing well so they're evenly coated with the browned butter. Season to taste with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  3. Transfer to a roasting pan, large enough that the sweet potatoes and shallots are in a single layer. Roast for about 30 to 40 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes are tender and caramelized. After about 20 minutes, toss the potatoes with a spatula to make sure they’re coated evenly with the browned butter. Remove from the oven and serve warm.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • DianneD
  • gingerroot
  • Oui, Chef
    Oui, Chef
  • lapadia
  • em-i-lis

Recipe by: EmilyC

I'm a home cook. I love salads. Two things you'll always find in my refrigerator are lemons and butter, and in my pantry good quality chocolate and the makings for chocolate chip cookies.

14 Reviews

DianneD November 14, 2012
Wonderful use of sweet potatoes for a savory dish. I used two sweet potatoes for a total of 3 1/2 pounds and doubled the other ingredients. This made enough for 6 portions. My potatoes also need much more time to get soft.
EmilyC November 14, 2012
Thanks DianneD! So happy you tried and liked it -- thanks for letting me know!
gingerroot November 9, 2012
I bet this smells heavenly. Can't wait to try this, EmilyC!
EmilyC November 9, 2012
Thanks gingerroot! It does smell heavenly and for very little work! : )
Oui, C. November 5, 2012
I am SO making this dish, I adore sweet potatoes and am always looking for new ways to cook them.
EmilyC November 5, 2012
Thanks, Steve, I hope you try them! I adore sweet potatoes, too, and this is my new favorite way to prepare them.
lapadia November 3, 2012
A wonderful sweet potato twist, I am always looking for one, thanks for sharing!
EmilyC November 3, 2012
Thanks lapadia! Good to know you're a fellow sweet potato fan! I think you'll really enjoy this flavor combination.
em-i-lis November 3, 2012
Such a pretty picture, Emily!!!!
EmilyC November 3, 2012
Thanks em! I'm definitely trying to improve my very amateurish photography skills! : )
meganvt01 November 2, 2012
Wow- this looks right up my alley!
EmilyC November 3, 2012
Thanks Megan! It's super easy so you should give it a go!
hardlikearmour November 2, 2012
This sounds truly magical. I'd be surprised it would serve any more than 2 people in my household!
EmilyC November 3, 2012
Thanks HLA -- the curry-vanilla combo is pretty magical. I was so pleasantly surprised by it. And I just changed the suggested serving to 2 people since my experience is the same! : )