Like a snake charmer, the garlicky cream aroma of this sweet potato dish bewitches. As its almost erotic scent permeates the house, it makes you lose your bearing and concentration. I mean, one moment you’re in one part of the house and the next you feel a gentle force guiding you towards the kitchen and, more precisely, the oven door. Chances are you may not even remember how you got there. All you know is that you suddenly find yourself barefoot and completely drenched from an unfinished shower…only to then remember that your kitchen is all windows and that your kitchen towels are very tiny indeed.
It could happen. Certainly with this dish.
Today, for instance, I was so transported by this visceral scent that I felt compelled to hug my dog. I just crouched down beside him and held my arms gently around his cute little neck. For a long time too. I think he got bored of my love after a while because he started looking at me as if confused. Who knows? Maybe I scared him a little bit. My husband would have been more appreciative, I think. Of course, I also had thoughts of hugging him later that evening, but I’m not planning on turning this blog into a cheap romance novel, so let’s get back to our sweet potatoes…
Granted, you can’t go wrong when you get garlic, cream and a little cheese involved. And when heated up, this concoction’s alluring fragrance is a force to be reckoned with.
Now, it is a little bit of the “check-your-health-concerns-at- the-door” kind of dish, as my very fit and health-conscious friend Adam likes to say. I say ‘a little bit’ because it’s not THAT heavy crazy of a dish. I mean, it’s not brimming with oozing bacon or anything. But it IS rich and it IS filling and it IS erotically good, and that’s a fact. As such, it gets filed under ‘occasional indulgence,’ to be sure.
It couldn’t be easier to make, either. It involves a microwave, of all things, which unequivocally promises an ‘easy clean-up.’ All you’ll need to wash is one little silly Pyrex measuring cup. Oh, and a knife.
making baked sweet potatoes with thyme & garlic
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Thoroughly grease a baking dish with a little butter and then fill the dish with half of the sliced sweet potatoes. Season with a ½ teaspoon – give or take – of salt.
Sprinkle with half the tablespoon of thyme and a ½ cup of the cheese. Now, for the ‘inside’ of the dish, I used slices of fresh provolone. I did so because I like how it tastes and I happened to have it around. But you can go ahead and use a half cup of whatever cheese you’re planning on topping this sweet potato dish with.
Then, top with the remaining sweet potato slices. (Make sure you have at least a half inch to the top of the baking dish to ensure that the cream won’t boil over the sides of the dish.)
In a glass measuring cup, add the cream, the remaining half tablespoon of thyme, the pressed garlic, and a teaspoon of salt and pepper.
Microwave on HIGH for one minute. Pour the cream mixture over the sliced sweet potatoes and cover the dish with aluminum foil.
Place the covered dish in the oven and lower the temperature to 375°F. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove the dish, uncover it,
and top it with the last quarter cup of cheese. You can use grated or thinly sliced mozzarella, Fontina or provolone.
Return it to the oven and bake for an additional 10 minutes or so, just until the cheese is thoroughly melted and a deliciously golden color.
Allow the dish to cool for 10-15 minutes before slicing. If so inclined, garnish with some fresh thyme stems before serving. Makes 8 servings.