Throughout 2020, Padma Lakshmi has used her voice, and used it loudly. She served as an ambassador for Amazon Studios’s bipartisan voting information campaign, raised awareness for Stacey Abrams’s voter suppression documentary, All In: The Fight For Democracy, and starred in Hulu’s Taste the Nation, a show that broadcast the diverse cuisines and therefore population of America.
But come Election Day, when all that can be done has been done, she’ll be seeking comfort in a way so many of us can relate to: through food.
Food, perhaps more so than anything in this vast, complicated country, is a unifying entity. It brings people together (there’s a reason idioms like “breaking bread” are synonymous with common ground), and out of their cultural comfort zones. (As Lakshmi told the New York Times in August: “Food can be a great instrument, and that is how I try to use it.”)
Today, food’s instrument will be used to nourish and assuage anxiety during a time when, for most Americans, uncertainty is at an all-time high.
So what is Lakshmi cooking? That would be her Oven Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Balsamic Onion Jam. “I love this dish because it’s incredibly comforting and feels like an indulgence, but is actually very healthy, ” she tells Vogue. “Sweet potatoes are high in fiber and have a lower glycemic index than regular potatoes. The flavor profiles are sweet, tangy and spicy—which I love. This dish has the feel of a restaurant appetizer, while being easy enough to quickly whip up at home.”
Below, her sweet-potato recipe—the perfect dish for a cold and unpredictable November night.
Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Balsamic Onion Jam
Ingredients: 2 pounds sweet potatoes (2 large), scrubbed, skins on, cut length wise into thick wedges
4 tablespoons butter
1 medium yellow onion, about 6 to 8 oz., finely diced
½ cup balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon red chili flakes
1 teaspoon herbs de Provence
1 cup plain, low fat yogurt
¼ cup fresh chopped dill
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
½ cup pomegranate seeds
Preheat oven to 450°F.
Combine prepared sweet potato wedges with a generous drizzling (2-3 tablespoons) of olive oil and season to taste with salt. Bake in a roasting pan for 35-40 minutes, or until fork tender and the edges are charred slightly, and crisp.
In a 2-quart saucepan, heat butter over medium heat. Add the diced onions, red pepper flakes, and herbs de Provence and sauté for 5-7 minutes, until the onions soften and appear translucent. Now add the balsamic vinegar to deglaze the pan and stir, gently scraping up any bits off the bottom. Cook until liquid is reduced by at least half and add 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer, and cook down for 35-40 minutes, until mixture has thickened and resembles a loose jam. Set aside.
In a small bowl, whip the yogurt and ½ teaspoon kosher salt with a fork to thin it out. Stir in half of the fresh dill, and set aside.
To assemble, arrange sweet potato wedges skin side down in a circular pattern on a platter. Drizzle the onion jam in a circular pattern, followed by the yogurt mixture. Sprinkle with remaining dill, smoked paprika and pomegranate seeds.