sweet potatoes with pecans and parmesan

Today I'm sharing a simple, satisfying side dish that will make a fitting addition to any Thanksgiving table. Last week, our October Cooking Club theme was Thanksgiving sides and although there are countless ways to spice up fall produce (so many ways to make Brussels sprouts exciting!), I wanted to make this dish because it (and I) needed some redeeming.

See, quite a few years ago, when I was a novice home chef, I made this recipe as an offering to my extended family's Thanksgiving table. Unfortunately I had unknowingly added 3/4 cup of brown sugar instead of the called-for 1/4 cup. (I must have seen the amount for nuts and used that instead of the amount for sugar. Always double check!) As you can probably guess, it turned out sweet. In fact, too sweet to even be considered a dessert, like tooth-achingly sweet. I was disappointed in myself and knew could put forth better food. So when our group decided on this month's Cooking Club theme I was ready to revisit this straightforward recipe. And I'm happy to report that I totally redeemed myself and oooh was it a tasty redemption!

As per usual, I've got a few modifications to help make this recipe even more attainable for you. If you don't have coconut sugar at home, sub packed light brown sugar instead. Also, I love the taste of pecans but if you have almonds, walnuts, or hazelnuts already at home you can easily sub them instead. And if you don't have enough of one kind, simply mix and match the nuts to get you to 3/4 cup. Remember, make it work for you! Recipe serves 6-8.

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3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes (about 5), peeled and sliced into 1/4" rounds

1/2 cup grated Parmesan (2 ounces)

Kosher salt and pepper

3/4 cup chopped pecans

1/4 cup coconut sugar

2 tsp fresh thyme leaves

pinch cayenne pepper


Heat oven to 375*F. Spray a shallow 2 1/2- or 3-quart baking dish with oil.

In a large bowl, toss the sweet potatoes with the Parmesan, 2 Tbsp of the oil, 1 tsp of salt, and 1/4 tsp black pepper; transfer to the prepared baking dish. Cover tightly with foil and bake until potatoes are easily pierced with a fork, 45 to 50 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the pecans, sugar, thyme, cayenne, the remaining tablespoon of oil, 1/4 tsp of salt, and 1/8 tsp black pepper.

When the potatoes are tender, remove the foil from the baking dish, sprinkle the pecan mixture over the potatoes, and continue to bake, uncovered, until the pecans are toasted, 10 to 12 minutes more.

Note: there may be extra liquid in the bottom of the baking dish (caused by too much oil or sugar or not enough potatoes). You can spoon out any excess liquid by tiling the pan to the side. 

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recipe adapted from Real Simple