A baking pan of halved sweet potatoes with sauce lying in the grass
Photography, Al Douglas

Maple-Glazed Sweet Potatoes With Pesto

A cilantro cashew pesto elevates Michael Smith's maple-roasted sweet potatoes.

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

A baking pan of halved sweet potatoes with sauce lying in the grass

Maple-Glazed Sweet Potatoes With Pesto

Michael Smith's recipe for maple-glazed roasted sweet potatoes topped with a creamy cilantro cashew pesto.
Course Appetizer, Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine American, Canadian, Holiday, Italian


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.

A cookbook cover in a light frame

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.


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