Crispy and brown with an ridged exterior, these sweet potatoes look like armadillos burrowing on your plate! The heat of cayenne pepper and chili, combined with their appearance, makes these little tubers a sweet and spicy treat that calls to mind tumbleweeds and Texas. Potatoes cut this way are usually called hasselback potatoes, but my roommate Karly suggested armadillo and it stuck. Not only is this side dish adorable, but it combines my two favorite, very different elements of sweet potatoes. Partially slicing the sweet potatoes results in a crispy outside and a sweet, creamy inside–an easy way to add a unique twist to the average baked vegetable.
I first saw this idea in a magazine (either Real Simple or MS Living) and it seems to have been popping up all over since then. When experimenting with my savory version of this dish, I referred the recipes by Seasaltwithfood (white potatoes) and Jan’s Sushi Bar (Maple-Sage Sweet Potato) for their beautiful pictures and suggested cooking time. I added two of my favorite spices and came up with a new favorite side.
Armadillo Sweet Potatoes – Serves 2
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30-40 minutes
2 small sweet potatoes
2 teaspoons melted butter, coconut oil, or ghee
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
cayenne pepper, cracked black pepper, and salt
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Place a piece of aluminum foil or parchment paper on a baking sheet and set aside. Thoroughly wash and dry sweet potatoes. Using a sharp knife, cut thin 1/4″ slices into the potato, leaving about a quarter to a half inch uncut at the bottom. As the song goes, “the first cut is the deepest”-be careful and don’t cut all the way through your potato. Headless armadillos are still tasty, but not quite as cute.
Place potatoes on the baking sheet. Brush or rub your melted butter, coconut oil, or ghee into the potatoes. Try to work a little down in between the slices. Sprinkle sweet potatoes with chili powder and a light dusting of cayenne pepper, black pepper, and salt. Gently rub the spices in between slices of the sweet potato. Most will stay on the outside, and this is fine too.
Bake potatoes for 30-40 minutes depending on their size. Potatoes are done when the outside is crispy and a fork slides easily into the middle of a slice.