This show-stopping side dish is a fun twist on typical Thanksgiving fare. Thinly sliced sweet potatoes are combined with a spicy North African chili paste and sweet maple syrup, then baked in a traditional French style to get a crispy top. This Harissa Maple Sweet Potato Tian is fusion food at its finest.
If you have visited the blog before, you're probably already aware that Joe and I are suckers for spicy foods. We seriously put ghost pepper flakes on just about anything. So it should come as no surprise to you that we're using this socially distant holiday season to really amp up the heat in some of our favorite dishes.
Table of Contents
- What the Heck is a Tian?
- And What the Heck is Harissa?
- How to Make This Spicy Sweet Potato Tian
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Need more holiday inspiration? Check out these other recipes I'll be using all season long:
Thanksgiving has long been my favorite holiday. The main tenets of Thanksgiving are celebrating family, friends and food while practicing gratitude. Seriously, what better holiday is there?
In a normal year, I would host or attend at least one Friendsgiving and put on the big show for at least 10 family members. But, as we all know, 2020 is far from a normal year. Instead of getting bummed about what we can't do, I decided to embrace this as an opportunity to do what Joe and I do best - GET WEIRD.
Aside from my brothers, Luke and Jake, and my late grandfather Bill, nobody from my side of the family really enjoys spicy food all that much. Joe's family has a slightly higher threshold for heat, but they're not quite as amenable to it as we are.
So this year, I'm making us an internationally inspired, vegetable-heavy and spicy version of our traditional meal. This Harissa Maple Sweet Potato Tian is the first piece of our nouveau celebration, and I'm pretty pumped about it.
What the Heck is a Tian?
Tian refers to both the style of vegetables (which are cut thin and doused in olive oil before cooking) and a particular kind of roasting dish that is from the Provençal region of France.
In this particular application, sweet potatoes are cut super thin, then rubbed with a maple-harissa and olive oil mixture, then arranged in an earthenware roasting dish and baked until beautifully golden on top. To serve, it is finished with dukkah, a middle eastern blend of seeds, nuts and spices.
And What the Heck is Harissa?
Harissa is a North African chile paste that packs a ton of flavor. Generally speaking, it is made with roasted red peppers, several varieties of spicy chiles, and warming spices and herbs like caraway, coriander and cumin. You can easily buy store bought harissa paste to amp up the flavor of your veggies or meats with a single potent ingredient.
How to Make This Spicy Sweet Potato Tian
While this Sweet Potato Tian looks super impressive, it is actually quite easy to make. First up, scrub your sweet potatoes clean and remove their skins.
Next up, cut your sweet potato into thin slices by halving each potato vertically, and then making ⅛" slices horizontally. You can achieve this either by using a mandoline (my preferred method for uniform slices) or using a sharp chef's knife.
Now make the roasting sauce by whisking together your maple syrup, olive oil and harissa.
Toss your sweet potato slices in the roasting sauce with salt and pepper and coat evenly. I like to put some sauce on the bottom of the pan I'm tossing them in, and then more on top for an even distribution. Be sure to reserve about ¼ cup of the sauce for basting the tian as it bakes.
Using an oblong roasting dish, arrange the slices of sweet potatoes by layering them atop one another and snaking around the outside of the dish.
Continue layering and working your way to the center, until the roasting dish is filled.
Bake at 400F for about an hour, stopping every 15 minutes to brush more of the harissa maple sauce on top.
Sprinkle with dukkah and serve warm. Enjoy!
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I assemble this side dish ahead of time?
You sure can! You can either decide to assemble the dish and not bake it until the following day ~or~ make it, bake it and refrigerate it for up to 3 days. Just reheat in the oven prior to serving and top with dukkah before serving!
If you wanted, this should also freeze well after baking for up to a month in advance. Don't sprinkle the dukkah seasoning until you're ready to eat.
Can I tone down the heat to more of a mild flavor?
Like I said, Joe and I are suckers for spicy foods, so we go pretty bold with our flavors. If you wanted to tone down the spice factor of this dish, cut the amount of harissa paste in half.
What kind of maple syrup should I use?
Any grade of maple syrup will be good in this recipe, but please be sure to use real, pure, 100% maple syrup. Those store brands that are just flavored corn syrup mixes are not welcome here.
I haven't been able to find harissa paste anywhere... any chance I can make my own?
Need more holiday inspiration? Check out these other recipes I'll be using all season long:
- Fall Harvest Salad with Roasted Delicata Squash and Creamy Maple Vinaigrette
- Easy Mushroom Gravy for Any Occasion
- Make Ahead Pumpkin Pie Baked Oatmeal
- Moussaka Style Lamb and Eggplant Shepherd's Pie
- Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Herbes de Provence Mustard and Sheet Pan Veggies
If you made this Harissa Maple Sweet Potato Tian, please be sure to comment below so I know how it turned out for you. I love hearing about all of your kitchen adventures!
Harissa Maple Sweet Potato Tian
- Preheat oven to 400F.
- Thinly slice (⅛") sweet potatoes using a mandoline or sharp chef's knife.
- Mix together olive oil, harissa and maple syrup. Toss sweet potato slices with ¾ of the sauce, salt and pepper, reserving ¼ sauce for brushing tian during baking.
- Arrange potatoes in casserole dish by layering slices around the edges of the plate and working inward.
- Roast at 400F for about an hour, stopping every 15 minutes to brush the top of the tian with more sauce. When slices are beginning to catch some color, remove from the oven, sprinkle with dukkah and serve warm. Enjoy!
- Use ½ as much harissa paste for a milder tian.
- Any maple syrup will work as long as it is pure maple syrup.
- Dukkah is optional, but gives an excellent crunch.