Friday recipe: SPUDnik Wars are on!

Every August, my father’s side of the family has a reunion on a lovely little campground in northwest Iowa. Some of us pull up in luxurious campers, while others (umm, my family and me) tent it. But we all enjoy lawn games, card games, great food and drink, and – most important – lively conversations and memories of growing up together.

Then things get competitive: Each reunion features a food contest, with a different theme and a different set of judges every year. Submissions in this year’s contest have to involve potatoes, so all week I’ve been testing various recipes that might having them swoonin’ at the reunion. Because I don’t have access to fancy cooking equipment and am not gifted at the grill, I’m leaning toward a sweet potato dessert that I can make in advance.


Then I came across this oh-so-tasty-sounding recipe on I frequently roast sweet potatoes (and parsnips and Brussels sprouts and carrots and cauliflower and pretty much any sort of vegetable within reach), typically with minced garlic and minced fresh ginger root, or with mint and Sriracha sauce. But the tempting chile-garlic goodness in this version is making me ponder my strategy for this year’s reunion food contest. With my parents’ house relatively close to the campground, I might take over their oven. Even if it doesn’t win the contest, at least I will be a happy camper at the picnic table!

Got any prize-winning potato recipes to share? Send them to me, please, at

Chile-garlic roasted sweet potatoes

  • 4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil or canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon chile-garlic sauce (available in Asian groceries)
  • 1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, scrubbed and sliced into 1-inch wedges

Position rack in lower third of oven; preheat to 450 degrees. Combine oil, chile-garlic sauce, soy sauce and pepper in a large bowl. Add sweet potatoes; toss to coat with the seasoning mixture.

Spread the sweet potatoes evenly on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast, stirring once or twice, until the sweet potatoes are tender and browned, 20 to 25 minutes.

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