Courtesy of Copeland Crews, chef de cuisine, Saba, New Orleans
Despite their name, sweet potatoes are only loosely related to white potatoes. They are truly sweet, however, thanks to a unique enzyme that converts their dense, starchy structure to maltose during cooking. That characteristic is amplified through both a slow roasting technique and a finish of pomegranate molasses in this recipe from New Orleans’s Saba, where southern-grown spuds, like the majority of the venue’s ingredients, are threaded through a mix of Middle Eastern, European and North African perspectives.
Published: March 2, 2021
Heat oven to 400˚F.
Scrub potatoes well, then rinse and dry them completely. Rub all over with canola oil, and season with salt and pepper. Using sharp knife, carefully poke several holes in potatoes. Place on lined baking sheet and bake until centers are very tender and skin is crispy, 40–50 minutes.
While potatoes cook, crush garlic and place in bowl with lemon juice. Steep for 30 minutes, then discard cloves. In mixer fitted with whisk attachment, whip tahini until light and fluffy. Add 1 teaspoon salt and steeped lemon juice, and continue whipping until smooth. Keep machine running, and slowly pour in 1¼ cups cold water. Whip until everything is incorporated and mixture is light and smooth.
Remove potatoes from oven. While still hot, cut slit down each potato lengthwise, and carefully open. Use fork to fluff insides gently. Season with flaky sea salt, then layer each with tahini mixture and pomegranate molasses, as desired. Garnish with parsley and Aleppo pepper. Serves 2.
White Wine Pairing
Full-bodied and aged in French oak, Golan Heights Winery 2018 Yarden Chardonnay (Galilee) presents structured brightness that balances perfectly with the carnival of flavors, acidity and fats in this dish, says Jessica Retif, Saba’s general manager. “Its fresh lemon and tropical notes complement the richness of the pomegranate molasses and sweet potato with a clean and lingering finish,” she says.
Red Wine Pairing
For a bit more heft, Retif likes Boutari 2012 Grande Reserve Xinomavro (Naoussa). A punch of leather and olive tapenade, it offers a contrast that enhances the savory, woodsy side of a root vegetable better known for its sweeter qualities. “The palate offers a blend of warm spice and dried fruit to complement the earthy flavors of your sweet potatoes,” she says. Its balanced acidity and mature tannins are also key. They help to “cleanse the palate with each sip,” she says.