Gjelina’s Roasted Yams Recipe (2024)



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Cooking Notes

J. Vega

Here in L.A. a T of Espelette peppers runs about $25, and using "crushed red pepper flakes" (usually Cayenne pepper) would radically change this dish. Espelette peppers have a Scoville rating of about 4,000 (mildly hot) while Cayenne peppers run between 30,000 to 50,000 Scovile units, a huge difference.

I'd suggest pimentón (smoked paprika) with a pinch or two of the red pepper flakes as a substitute for the Espelette peppers.


Step 1 Q: You're right. They must have started with long skinny sweet potatoes (enough! with this "yam" myth). If your spuds are portly just cut them into more wedges. You want the long thin profile for better crisping & caramelization.
Step 2 Q: You will get a better result if you roast the wedges skin-side-down. The cut sides will aspirate more internal moisture than the skin side, yielding the desired crispy, caramelized quality. Allow good space between wedges on the pan.

Sam Sifton

Ottolenghi has a recipe for roasted sweet potatoes with lemongrass creme fraiche in "Plenty." It contains ground coriander and ginger in addition to the first two ingredients, and a garnish of cilantro and sliced red chili. He also has one for roasted butternut squash with "sweet spices" -- garam masala, cinnamon, cloves and the like -- along with a lime yogurt that has some tahini in it. The dish is dressed with sliced jalapeno and chopped cilantro. Delicious. And different.


It might indeed be a "take" on an earlier recipe, but in cooking what isn't? A "rip-off" is too harsh, implying intentions were predatory and deceitful.

I'm just glad for any vegetable-focused cookbook like this one, and am anxiously awaiting Joshua McFadden's upcoming cookbook for the vegetable-focused Ava Gene's restaurant in Portland, all of the recipes for which that I've tried (bon appetit online), have been superb, as is the restaurant itself.

Melanie N.

I used the cold-oven method for the yams—starting them in a cold oven does something magic to the sugars in yams. I followed everything else in the recipe and the yams had crispy, caramelized exteriors and uber-soft, moist interiors; served them with Mexican Crema and it was literally one of the most delicious things I've ever tasted.

Thomas Sherman

Might I recommend using flaked Aleppo pepper rather than the more expensive and difficult to find Espelette? It really is delicious, and just spicy enough to flavor. I love it.


In the United States true yams (from Africa) are rare, and what's sold in most supermarkets as yams are actually soft sweet potatoes, called "yams" to differentiate from the firm type.



"Since the 'soft' sweet potatoes slightly resembled true yams, they picked up the name and became what you see labeled as 'yams' in most U.S. grocery stores."


Pepperscale.com recommends a well-chosen paprika as a substitute for Espelette pepper. After that, Aleppo Pepper.


Thomas Chan

With a hot oven, a trick that I've found right at the end of cooking while the pan is still hot, is to dip and glaze the cut sides of the quartered slices with the caramelised honey-based drippings that pool at the bottom of the pan. Using a pair of tongs, I swipe each of the cut sides with the caramelised drippings while removing them from the pan; when cooled, the coating forms a delectable sweet, glazed crust that makes this dish truly outstanding, similar to your results with a cold oven.


My husband spent a frigid day ice-fishing with friends who provided grilled bear meat - ONLY grilled bear meat - for lunch. He came home ravenous for vegetables, so I made this plus a large bunch of chard, sliced and wilted in olive oil then tossed in a little light vinaigrette. The combination was spectacular, and he wolfed it all.
(Lacking honey, I used dark maple syrup instead, and it worked magnificently.)


I guess I should have known to oil the foil.


My sweet potatoes were huge, but I kept them in quarters so they cooked for twice as long, but this is a wonderful way to dress up sweet potatoes. I steamed some asparagus to go with them and the sauce works just as well on the asparagus as it does the sweet potatoes. Will definitely make again.

Sara F

This was so good, it was hard not to eat the whole thing. Deb Perelman (of Smitten Kitchen) made this with the addition of roasted chickpeas, which made it more of a main course. http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2016/02/roasted-yams-and-chickpeas-with-y...


Amazon has French Espelette peppers for about 12 bucks for 1.4 oz.


This is such a lovely recipe and dish. But I can't help thinking that it should be credited to Ottolenghi's recipe featured in his book Plenty....?


Lime yogurt dressing is superb!


Loved these, but a little too sweet for me. Maybe a different type of honey? I used honey purchased from Costco.I will definitely try making them again.


Simple and delicious!

K. Morrow

I haven't made this recipe yet, but I plan to substitute Aleppo pepper for the Espelette. Here is an article I found that suggests 5 possible substitutions. https://americasrestaurant.com/espelette-peppers-substitutes/


my yams looked old - the skins were hard and dry. I left them on anyway, and they became tender and delicious!


Easy and yummy in the tummy. Espellete pepper not in my pantry, but I read in a reasonable note to sub with smoked paprika and a dash of cayenne for a modest substitution. Good choice. Served with pork tenderloin cooked stove top, and snow peas. Made extra yogurt sauce.


Absolutely wonderful. And wonderfully easy!


The tubers I used look just like the picture. In my grocery store they are labeled "garnet yams."


I was making Christmas dinner in Italy and wanted to include yams. Found excellent locally grown yams easily, but with no maple syrup for my usual recipe, I tried this one. Fantastic! So easy: no peeling or par-boiling, just quarter the yams lengthwise, toss in XVOO, a little honey, lots of hot pepper flakes. Put in oven after meat comes out to rest. Slightly charred, a bit spicy, unusual. Left out the yogurt sauce b/c of many other dishes. Lots of possibilities for improvisation.


Excellent, I used Aleppo peppers, 10,000 Scovile units, that also works well.

Chef Carlos

We loved these sweet potatoes or yams whatever you want to call them. Apparently most of what we call yams in the US are really sweet potatoes. I followed the recipe and used pimenton de la Vera to add spice and chives rather than scallions. Wonderful addition to my roasted sweet potato recipes. Served these along side grilled tbone lamb chops. Perfect combination


Used Aleppo and some cayenne. A little too spicy. Cooked on convection roast at 425 for 35 which was too long. Blackened


I tried the Espellete pepper and the red pepper flakes and I think the red pepper flakes were better. The red pepper flakes were spicier which I thought played well against the sweetness of the potatoes and the honey….if you don’t like heat, use the Espelette


I added some sausage to the cookie sheet and let it all cook together. Delicious.


Used parchment paper and it worked beautifully. No sticking.

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Gjelina’s Roasted Yams Recipe (2024)


Do I have to boil yams before baking? ›

Do you boil yams before baking? Boiling yams before baking help reduce the baking time. You can certainly boil them before cooking but I love yams that have been slowly roasted in the oven.

How to cook yams not sweet potatoes? ›

Wash and peel the yams, then cut them into bite-size cubes. Choose a saucepan or Dutch oven that will be large enough to hold them without crowding. Fill the pot with just enough salted water to cover the yams. Bring to a boil and cook, covered, for 20 to 25 minutes, or until tender.

How do I know when my yams are done? ›

If you'd like a more precise indicator, insert an instant-read thermometer into the thickest part of the sweet potato. The internal temperature of a cooked sweet potato should read between 205- and 212-degrees Fahrenheit.

Why do you soak yams in water? ›

Yams contain a lot of starch and by soaking them for a few hours some of the starch is released and washes away into the water. Just make sure to rinse them well and pat them dry before baking.

How long does yam take to cook? ›

For baking, preheat your oven to 400°F (200°C), pierce the yam with a fork, and bake for about 45-60 minutes. Boiling involves peeling and cutting the yam into chunks, then boiling for 15-20 minutes. Steaming is a healthier option, taking around 20-30 minutes.

Should you soak yams before cooking? ›

TIPS & TRICKS to Make this Recipe: The main secrets to achieving that incredible crispy texture, is to soak the cut sweet potatoes in cold water for at least 30 minutes. This helps remove the starch from the sweet potatoes so they´re not limp & soggy.

How do you reduce the bitterness in yams? ›

Most common techniques used to reduce the bitterness includes boiling/steaming and/or baking over coals after either cleaning (bulbils) or cleaning and peeling (tubers) (Bhandari and Kawabata, 2005) .

Is it necessary to boil sweet potatoes? ›

While boiling makes sweet potatoes tender, it doesn't help much with their flavor. Most dishes that call for boiled sweet potatoes would be improved if you used roasted or baked sweet potatoes.

Do potatoes need to be boiled before cooking? ›

You don't need to, but if you like really crispy potatoes, there's a method that requires a few minutes of pre-cooking. Basically, you put the potatoes into already boiling water for a few minutes to soften up the outside. Then drain, add some fat and flavourings, and with the lid on briefly shake and rotate the pot.

Do you always have to boil potatoes before cooking? ›

You'll want to boil potatoes any time you don't want them to dry out (as they can when baked in the oven).

How long does it take to boil yams? ›

They should offer little resistance and slide in easily when fully cooked. As a basic guideline, you want to cook whole sweet potatoes for about 40 minutes, 2-inch cubed sweet potatoes for about 25 minutes, and 1-inch cubed sweet potatoes for about 15 minutes.

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