Roasted sweet potatoes and za'atar yogurt make a beautiful pair, and the additions of persimmon and lamb sausage make this dish a perfect choice for large gatherings and special occasions. I enjoy how the delicate sweetness of the persimmon cuts through the richness of the yogurt and the savory flavor of the sausage. Persimmon also has a subtle vegetal flavor that pairs well with the roasted sweet potato.
Please note, this dish can become an extremely delicious vegetarian preparation by excluding the sausage. Moreover, if persimmons are unavailable, the simple combination of roasted sweet potatoes with za'atar yogurt and parsley is substantial and tasty enough to stand on its own. —Josh Cohen
6 to 8
small sweet potatoes, cut into bite-size pieces (optional: for a more beautiful finished dish, make "oblique cuts," see note in step 1)
Preheat the oven to 425° F. Wash the sweet potatoes, and cut them in half lengthwise so that they are easier to work with. To make "oblique cuts," cut into the sweet potatoes at acute angles. Each bite-size piece of sweet potato should look angular and unique. Toss the sweet potatoes in enough olive oil to lightly coat them, season with salt and the espelette pepper, and roast until they are beginning to caramelize and crisp around the edges, approximately 20 minutes. Let the sweet potatoes cool to room temperature.
Remove the sausage from its casing (you can squeeze it out like toothpaste). Set a large skillet over high heat and add enough grapeseed oil to thinly coat the skillet. Heat the oil until it begins to lightly smoke. Add the sausage. Using a wooden spoon, press the sausage into flat pancake shapes. Let the sausage cook undisturbed until the bottom side of the sausage is deeply caramelized. Once you’ve got nice caramelization on one side of your sausage, break up the sausage in the pan using the wooden spoon so that there are no large pieces. If you’ve overcrowded the skillet, or if your skillet didn’t initially get hot enough, then your sausage will be less beautiful. Set your cooked sausage aside and let it cool to room temperature.
In a medium-sized mixing bowl, mix the yogurt with the za'atar and lemon juice. Add a tablespoon of olive oil. Season with salt. Taste and adjust as necessary.
To serve: Dollop yogurt onto the plate, and use the back of a spoon to gently flatten and spread these dollops. Sprinkle roasted sweet potatoes over the yogurt. Sprinkle some of the sausage onto the plate. Add the sliced persimmon. Let these ingredients fall randomly onto the plate. Do not use a heavy hand. Garnish the plate with the chopped parsley. If you happen to have some olive oil nearby, drizzle some oil over the finished plate. Enjoy.
When plating this dish, use what you feel are appropriate amounts of each ingredient. Do not feel like you have to use every piece of sweet potato or every slice of persimmon. If you happen to have some yogurt left over at the end, or some extra sausage, that’s okay.
Born and raised in Brooklyn, I’m perpetually inspired by the diversity of foods that exist in this city. I love shopping at the farmer’s market, making ingredients taste like the best versions of themselves, and rolling fresh pasta. I learned how to make fresh pasta in Italy, where I spent the first 6 months of my career as a chef. I've been cooking professionally in New York City since 2010.