Not too long ago, after admitting that I had a wee bit of a problem keeping up with the New Yorker, I noticed that, next to my bedside, there sat a leaning tower of old New Yorker issues just waiting to topple over in the middle of the night and trigger a bad dream about thunderstorms or exploding bombs (apparently I am very susceptible to sounds invading my dreams, because just last night I was awoken from a dream about being trapped in a horrible hurricane, only to realize that, oh, no! There really was a hurricane happening right at that moment, only to then realize that, nope, there was no hurricane, there was only my husband, wheezing/snoring in his sleep just inches from my face and giving me nightmares, but I digress). Knowing that my dusty magazine pile was bordering on unreasonable, I began to stack the old New Yorker issues in my arms and take them to the recycling bin.
As I walked down the stairs, I noticed that several of the magazines were marked in the beginning few pages with a dogeared fold. One issue sporting this feature would not be notable, but half a dozen? Against my better judgment—I was, remember, supposed to be getting rid of these magazines—I fished a couple of magazines out of the pile and opened them up to their folded pages. All of the pages, it turned out, were marked at the same place: the Tables for Two column, the short restaurant review that appears in the first few pages of the magazine, and, some of you might remember, the inspiration for this recipe. As I soon recalled, for months I had been noting tasty-sounding dishes that were mentioned in the column, with the intention that I would someday gather together the elements in each recipe and then create them in my own way. Hazelnut orange pesto? That sounds delicious! And now this, fingerling sweet potatoes with tarragon? Sign me up.
Though I can’t remember the name of the restaurant that offered the inspiration for this dish, the thought of combining fingerling sweet potatoes with tarragon stuck in my brain and refused to budge. Not knowing anything more about the presentation, other than the main ingredient and its accompanying herb, I thought of the way I’d like to see these two things come together. Petite sweet potatoes roasted in olive oil until soft and crisp and paired up with a wonderfully garlicky, herby aioli sounded just right.
And it was. The sweet, caramelized potatoes are a natural match with the creamy, forward flavor of the tarragon aioli. If I am recalling things correctly, the restaurant was favorably reviewed in the New Yorker, and this little sample of a flavor pairing from the restaurant makes it clear why. So, in what might turn out to be an ingenious excuse for having all those old issues of the New Yorker sitting around, I have decided to create a new category here on Savory Salty Sweet. The category will be called, fittingly, Tables for Two, and it will feature dishes that I read about in the New Yorker column of the same name and felt inspired to make. I don’t know how many recipes I will actually be able to create from this endeavor, but I am excited to find out.
Last year: Carrot Muffins
Roasted Fingerling Sweet Potatoes with Lemon Tarragon Aioli Recipe
If you can’t find fingerling sweet potatoes, just use the tiniest sweet potatoes you can find. I have found that the tinier the potato, the more delicate its flesh, and that’s a real virtue in this recipe. When you roast the potatoes, you want them to become pillowy soft and creamy with just tiny hits of crispness here and there on each slice.
2 pounds of fingerling sweet potatoes, sliced in half or in quarters in order to make all the potato slices a standard size (having them a uniform size will allow them to all roast at the same rate)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Place sliced sweet potatoes on a large baking sheet, then drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss everything together, then arrange potatoes in a single layer. Roast potatoes for 30 minutes, until the potatoes are soft and their edges have started to turn crisp.
Lemon Tarragon Aioli
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 large egg yolk
2 tablespoons fresh tarragon, roughly chopped
7 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
To make aioli, combine lemon juice, mustard, garlic, egg yolk, and tarragon in a food processor or blender. Process or blend until smooth, then, with the food processor still running, slowly add the olive oil until the mixture becomes smooth and thick. Remove the lid, stir the mixture with a spatula or spoon to mix in any errant bits trapped on the sides or bottom of the bowl, then add salt and pepper to taste and process for a few more seconds to ensure that everything is smoothly combined.
Serve potatoes warm, with aioli drizzled on top, or in a small bowl on the side.