Hasselback Sweet Potatoes with Parmesan and Sage
As I’ve mentioned many times before, Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday (closely followed by my birthday, Christmas and Cinco de Mayo). And given my domestic skills, I’m sure you’re imagining my T-Day table as a fabulous smorgasbord of creative sides served alongside a trendy spatchcocked turkey. Thank you!!
My family’s Thanksgiving dinner is basic/non-negotiable, and I would most likely be shunned for suggesting anything outside our traditional fare: roast turkey with mashed potatoes, sweet potato purée with marshmallows, sautéed green beans, stuffing (one with sausage and apples, one without), gravy, cranberry sauce, and pie. I feel no need to rock the boat, as I practically fetishize this epic menu, and I’m very much looking forward to eating it in two short weeks. (I have excitement goosebumps just thinking about it.)
However, I recognize that some of you like to mix things up each year, and you may be on the hunt for a fancy new side. Thanks to a long-standing tradition with my friend Annie, I’ve got you covered. You see, Annie’s family does a progressive potluck style T-Day, and every family member is in charge of one dish. I am responsible (virtually of course) for Annie’s contribution.
To be honest, I’ve been pretty stressed about the task for the past few weeks. The stakes are insanely high after last year’s Sweet Potato Gratin triumph, and I have anxiety about letting the Blaine family down. I’ve considered all manner of stuffings, vegetable sides, and riffs on potatoes, but sadly, I wasn’t particularly psyched about any of them. Then I made these Hasselback Sweet Potatoes with Parmesan and Sage…
These potatoes are the epitome of dankness. Thinly sliced, brushed with a heavenly mixture of olive oil, maple syrup, garlic, cinnamon and cayenne, and then studded with sage leaves, these potatoes fan out as they roast, yielding perfectly tender, caramelized rounds with crispy edges. Finishing the hasselbacks with freshly grated Parmesan adds just the right amount of savory contrast, and each bite is just…DAYUM.
Plus, they’re very pretty to look at. (Much prettier in person than in these photos—yesterday’s light was weird.) You’ll be surprised at the crowd-pleasing nature of an accordion-like potato. People freak out.
In addition to their deliciousness and sex appeal, these hasselbacks are power players on the nutrition front. I won’t bore you with another dissertation on the magical health benefits of sweet potatoes, (you should know by now that they’re packed with fiber, anti-oxidants, beta-carotene and vitamin C), but I will say that they’re an excellent way to balance out all the butter, cream, and carbs on your T-day table. They’re also naturally gluten-free (and vegan if you leave out the cheese), so you don’t have to worry about alienating guests with “special needs.” Hallelujah.
I know how stressed/sweaty some of you are looking at all the tiny slices in these potatoes, and I’m not gonna lie, it’s going to take most of you at least 10-15 minutes to prep these bad boys. That said, the slicing is the only time-consuming aspect of this recipe, and then you get to crush TV/phone/cocktail hour while the taters roast and make your kitchen smell like an angel’s nest. So bear with me here.
In doing my usual audience troubleshooting for this recipe (i.e. gchatting my stable of domestically-challenged besties), the number one “hesitation” I received was, “You’re insane! I will 100% slice all the way through the potatoes.” Never fear, friends, I obviously thought of that. To prevent hacking your potato into a million pieces, simply place a chopstick on either side of the potato (you can also use knives, wooden spoons, or anything else that’s roughly ¼-½ inch thick). The chopsticks will act as a barrier, stopping your knife before it goes through the base of the potato. BOOM.
While these sassy sweet potatoes are a show-stopping side dish, they’re also a pretty festive weeknight meal. If the thought of a single sweet potato for dinner depresses you, feel free to bulk these beautiful babies up a little. To keep things vegetarian, try topping them with some greens and/or cannellini beans. As for the meat lovers, dress up your hasselbacks with some browned chicken sausage and shallots, or get totally weird and smother the sweet spuds in chili.
Also, after giving this foolproof recipe a go, you should definitely get creative with your future oil mixture/herb combinations. The sky’s the limit, peeps. I’m thinking chipotle-lime hasselbacks! Coconut-basil! Chile and garlic! Almond pesto! Dear God, this is exciting.
Before you go gathering your sweet potatoes, a quick note on portion sizes. You’ll see below that this recipe “serves 4,” but I’m being incredibly generous. If you plan to serve the potatoes as a meal (or as the centerpiece of a meal), a whole potato per person makes sense, but if you’re going the side dish route, half a hasselback is plenty. (So you’ll actually be able to serve 8 happy peeps. xo, Captain Obvious)
Hasselback Sweet Potatoes with Parmesan and Sage: (Serves 4)
1/3 cup good extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, grated on a microplane
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon good quality maple syrup
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 pinch cayenne pepper (optional)
4 medium sweet potatoes (If your potatoes aren’t organic, you’ll need to peel them!)
16-20 fresh sage leaves
½-¾ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (depending on desired level of cheesy-ness)
Preparing your Hasselback Sweet Potatoes with Parmesan and Sage:
-Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees. Rub a large baking dish with oil (or line it with parchment/foil) and briefly set aside.
-In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, garlic, maple syrup, cinnamon and cayenne until well combined. Set that deliciousness aside while you prep the sweet potatoes.
-Scrub the sweet potatoes and pat them dry. (If you don’t like sweet potato skin, or your potatoes are not organic, please peel them!) If some of your potatoes don’t lie flat on a cutting board, cut a narrow slice from the bottom of the oddly shaped potato for them to rest on. Now it’s time to “hasselback” the potatoes. Place two chopsticks (you can also use two knives or two wooden spoons) on either side of each potato. Carefully cut crosswise slits into the potato at ¼-inch intervals, stopping before you cut all the way through so that the slices stay connected at the base. (The chopsticks/knives are there to stop your knife before you slice all the way through the potato. So helpful!)
-Brush the potatoes all over with half of the oil mixture, including the bottoms, doing your best to get some of the oil into the slits. Arrange the potatoes in the prepared baking dish. Place 4-5 sage leaves in between the slices of each sweet potato, and season the potatoes generously with salt and pepper.
-Bake for 40 minutes. Remove the potatoes from the oven and brush them with the remaining oil mixture. The potatoes should have started to fan out at this point, so make sure you really get in between the slices with the oil. (If your potatoes haven’t fanned, don’t freak out. You can gently nudge the layers apart with the back of a fork.) Season in between the layers with an extra pinch of salt.
-Return the potatoes to the oven and bake for another 20-30 minutes (depending on the size of your taters) until they’re very tender and the edges are crisp. Sprinkle each of the potatoes with Parmesan cheese (again, make sure you get down in the slits, people).
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