Crispy oven roasted sweet potato wedges with a creamy, vegan peanut dipping sauce make a perfect, flavorful appetizer or side. Sweet, savory, sour, spicy and crunchy, this combination is a delicious explosion of flavors and textures.
I came up with this recipe for the Eat the Culture Black History Month Virtual Potluck! I’m proud to collaborate with more than 30 Black recipe developers as we explore Black food through the lens of Afrofuturism. Our collaboration of recipes explores the intersection of the Black diaspora via culture, future, geopolitics, imagination, liberation, culture, and technology.
Cook and share the inspiring recipes by checking out the list of participants below. Follow each participant and continue the discussion with us on social media using the hashtag #BHMVP2022!
Sweet Potatoes, Peanuts and Black History and Culture
Sweet potatoes hold a special place in African American culture. Originating in South America, sweet potatoes became a common staple during the sixteenth century when the Spanish began exporting them to Western Europe and Africa. At that time, other tubers like yams and cassava were far more popular across the African diaspora.
The trans-Atlantic slave trade forced the migration of countless people, relocating them to the American South. Sweet potatoes became popular in black communities because they were similar to the root vegetables they loved from back home.
Sweet potatoes became a staple crop on many farms and an integral part of the African American diet. They stayed on the menu during the Great Migration from rural areas to cities and continue to be important to the culture today.
In West Africa, peanuts (or groundnuts) play an important nutritional role and are used in authentic soups, stews and marinades and peanut butter is used as a thickener in many dishes.
In the 1900s, agricultural scientist and inventor, George Washington Carver made black history by developing hundreds of genius products derived from sweet potatoes as well as peanuts.
To this day, both sweet potatoes and peanuts are important cultural foods across the African diaspora. For me, Afrofuturism is about black people having a platform to thrive in their own culture. I developed this recipe as a celebration of black history and a way to connect with forgotten African ancestry through food.
How to Make Crispy Sweet Potato Wedges
I used both jewel and purple sweet potatoes in this recipe to make it more colorful and symbolize the diversity within the African diaspora. For best results, select medium sized sweet potatoes with an even, elongated shape.
Step one: Start by carefully cutting each sweet potato in half lengthwise. Then, place each half, cut side down on the cutting board and slice into ⅓ inch wedges. It’s critical that you cut all of your wedges as close to the same size as possible so that they cook evenly.
Step Two: Soak the wedges in cold water in a bowl in the refrigerator for at least 45 minutes.
Soaking the potatoes will pull out the starch, giving you a crispy outside and a soft inside, which is exactly what we’re going for.
Step Three: Dry the potatoes completely. I press them with a clean dish towel and then let them sit on a baking rack until all of the moisture is evaporated. Wet foods do not get crispy so make sure that your potatoes are really dry before moving on to the next step!
Step 4: Place the dry sweet potato wedges into a large bowl or zip top bag and toss with cornstarch. Add oil to the mixture and toss until everything is well coated.
Step 5: Preheat a baking sheet in a 425 degree oven for ten minutes and carefully place sweet potato wedges onto hot baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, flip and rotate potatoes and then bake for another 15 minutes.
Here is the magic baking secret – after the cook time is up, turn off the oven, open the door so it’s ajar and let them sit in the oven for another 10-15 minutes. I don’t know what it is but this makes them crispier!
Season hot sweet potato wedges with salt to taste. It’s super important that you do not add salt before baking as it draws out moisture and the sweet potatoes will not get crispy.
How to Make the Peanut Dipping Sauce
Sweet potatoes and peanuts are a flavor match made in heaven. This recipe was heavily inspired by the components of traditional African peanut stew. The sauce is creamy, crunchy, spicy, sour, sweet and full of flavor. It pairs perfectly with sweet potatoes but would also be delicious with rice, noodles or grilled chicken or fish. I found myself just eating it with a spoon while making it. It’s that good.
The sauce is really simple to make. Simply add all of the ingredients to a food processor or high speed blender and blend until smooth.
I add extra flair and texture to the dish by chopping together some cilantro and peanuts to sprinkle over the sauce and garnish the sweet potato wedges. You should definitely be extra like me and take this additional step.
Ingredients You Will Need
- Natural peanut butter – for this recipe make sure you use the stuff that naturally separates and has no added sugar or salt.
- Coconut cream – this is thicker than coconut milk. You can find coconut cream in the same space in the grocery store. Coconut milk can be substituted but the consistency of the sauce will be much thinner.
- Harissa paste – a chili paste that originated in North Africa, it’s commonly used in dips, marinades and stews that adds bright, smoky flavor. Don’t skip it!
- Fresh garlic, ginger, lime – using fresh garlic, ginger and lime is key.
- Honey – adds just a touch of sweetness to balance out the flavors
- Salt – season with just a pinch of salt, taste and then add more if needed.
- Cilantro and Crushed Peanuts – adds freshness and a little added crunch for garnish. Not required but strongly recommended!
What to Serve with Sweet Potato Wedges
Sweet potato wedges with peanut dipping sauce is a meal in itself but it also pairs wonderfully with:
- Roast or grilled chicken, fish or steak
- Simple green salad
- Perfect for jazzing up burger night at home
Black History Month 2022 Virtual Pot Luck Participants
Celebrate Black History Month and try some amazing recipes. Follow the hashtag #BHMVP2022 on Instagram.
- Fonio Bundt Cake with Hibiscus Glaze by A Classic Twist
- Collard Green Hand Pies by A Girl Called Adri
- Sweet Potato Biscuits by Black Girls Who Brunch
- Chicken Plantains and Vegetables by Black Peoples Recipes
- Bobo de Camarao (Brazilian Shrimp Stew) by Brazilian Kitchen Abroad
- Salted Caramel Chocolate Tart with Candied Peanuts by Britney Breaks Bread
- Vegan Coconut Cake with Lime Glaze by Chenée Today
- Fried Green Tomato BLT by Coined Cuisine
- Shrimp Po’ Boy Salad by Collards Are The Old Kale
- Warm Brewed Zobo Drink by Dash of Jazz
- Sorrel Martini Popsicles by Dish It With Tisha
- Fish Patties with Pontchartrain Sauce by Dude That Cookz
- Stuffed Shrimp & Grit Collard Green Rolls by Fior
- Spicy Berbere Lentil Chili by Flights and Foods
- Sankofa Bowl w/ Suya Duck Breast by Food Fidelity
- Brown Stew Pineapple Chicken with Roasted Groundnuts by Geo’s Table
- Champurrado Custard by Global Kitchen Travels
- Caribbean Fish and Chips with Tamarind Sauce by Heal Me Delicious
- Curry crab stuffed dumplings by Home Made Zagat
- Nigerian Chapman Cocktail by Immaculate Ruému
- Dragon Fruit Pineapple Rum Punch by Jamieson Diaries
- Smothered Okra & Tomatoes by Kenneth Temple
- Brown Butter Sombi – Coconut Rice Puddng Brulee by Meiko And The Dish
- Coffee and Bourbon Braised Short Ribs by My Pretty Brown Fit + Eats
- Fig Cake with Tamarind Glaze by My Sweet Precision
- Coconut-Lime Cornmeal Tres Leches Cake by Savor and Sage
- Salmorejo (Stewed Crab) over Garlic Grits by Sense & Edibility®
- Mango Cake and Coconut Cream by Sims Home Kitchen
- Sous Vide Ox Tail with Coconut Rice by Sweet Tea + Thyme
- Yam Gnocchi served with Oxtail Peppersoup by The Food Disciple
- Bourbon Bean Pie by The Queen of Yum
- Black Eyed Pea And Cornbread by The Vgn Way
Sweet Potato Wedges with Peanut Dipping Sauce
- 2 medium size sweet potatoes
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons avocado oil or other high heat oil
- ½ cup natural peanut butter
- ½ cup coconut cream
- 1 tablespoon harissa paste
- 1 lime juiced
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 inch chunk peeled fresh ginger
- 1 teaspoon honey
- Pinch of salt
- Chopped peanuts and cilantro for garnish
- Carefully cut sweet potatoes in half lengthwise. Place the potatoes cut side down on a cutting board and carefully slice into ⅓ inch thick wedges.
- Add sweet potato wedges to a large bowl filled with cold water and soak for 45 minutes in the refrigerator.
- While the sweet potatoes are soaking, make the sauce. Add peanut butter, coconut cream, lime juice, garlic, ginger, harissa, honey and a pinch of salt to a food processor or high speed blender and blend until smooth. Taste and add more salt to taste. If you want a thinner sauce, add water 1 tablespoon at a time. Set aside and allow the flavors to meld.
- Drain the potatoes and gently press with a clean dish towel to remove excess moisture. Place on a wire rack to dry completely.
- Once the potatoes are fully dry, preheat the oven to 425 degrees and place a baking sheet in the oven to preheat.
- In a large bowl or zip top bag, add the dry sweet potato wedges and cornstarch and toss until well combined. Shake away any excess. Add avocado oil to potatoes and cornstarch and toss again until thoroughly coated.
- Carefully remove preheated baking sheet from oven and add sweet potato wedges, leaving at least an inch of space between each piece. You may need two baking sheets.
- Bake at 425 for 15 minutes. Flip each wedge, rotate the pan and bake for an additional 15 minutes. Turn off the oven, open the door and leave it ajar for another 10-15 minutes, allowing the sweet potato wedges to crisp.
- Chop together cilantro leaves and peanuts for garnish.
- Arrange sweet potato wedges on a platter with dipping sauce. Season potato wedges to taste with salt and sprinkle peanut and cilantro garnish all over. Serve immediately.