We grow many things well on our farm, but sweet potatoes are not one of them – our growing season is too short. So instead, we rely on farmers in much warmer climates to do it for us. Nonetheless they are a nutritional powerhouse, and one of my favourite vegetables. Baking is my preferred way to cook them. We do grow lots of fragrant cilantro, and through life-cycle harvesting we enjoy its aromatic leaves, green coriander seeds and lacy white flowers. The pesto brings together lots of citrusy cilantro leaves and bright balancing flavours in a tasty condiment ready to complete a deliciously baked sweet potato. –Michael Smith
Maple-Glazed Sweet Potatoes With Pesto
Cilantro Cashew Pesto
- 1 large bunch fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems any flowers and a few tender stems reserved for garnish
- 1 cup unsalted roasted cashews
- 4 cloves garlic sliced
- ½ cup extra-virgin canola or olive oil
- zest and juice of 1 lemon
- 4 oz Parmigiano Reggiano cheese grated
- ½ tsp sea salt
Maple-Spiced Sweet Potatoes
- 2 large sweet potatoes unpeeled, sliced in half lengthwise (cut each potato into 4 wedges for smaller side portions)
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil, olive oil or reserved animal fat
- sea salt
- freshly ground pepper
- ¼ cup pure maple syrup
- 1 tbsp fennel seeds
- 1 tbsp green coriander seeds
Cilantro Cashew Pesto
- Measure the cilantro, cashews, garlic, canola oil, lemon zest and juice, cheese and salt into a food processor. Purée until a smooth, bright paste emerges, scraping down the sides a few times along the way. Reserve or transfer to a resealable container and refrigerate leftovers for up to 5 days.
Maple Spiced Sweet Potatoes
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Turn on the convection fan if you have one. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.
- Use the point of a small sharp knife to lightly score the surface of the sweet potatoes in a diamond pattern, making cuts ½ inch (1 cm) deep at ½-inch (1 cm) intervals. (For smaller side portions, no need to score the wedges.)
- Arrange the sweet potatoes cut side up on the prepared baking sheet and lightly oil the tops. Season with salt and pepper. Bake for 45 minutes.
- Carefully brush the potatoes with maple syrup and evenly sprinkle with the fennel seeds and coriander seeds. Continue baking until glazed and tender, 15 minutes or so more.
- Serve with a generous dollop of cilantro cashew pesto on top. Garnish with cilantro flowers, if any, and a few tender stems.
Excerpted from Farmhouse Vegetables by Michael Smith. Copyright © 2023 Michael Smith. Photography by Al Douglas. Published by Penguin, an imprint of Penguin Canada, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.