Although Thanksgiving dinner is the main event, it's always nice to offer a little something for guests to nibble on as they arrive. Even better if it's simple -- there's plenty of food to come, and you don't want to stress yourself out preparing an elaborate hors d'oeuvre. This harissa-spiced sweet potato dip fits the bill. It's mostly hands-off, big on flavor and perfect for omnivores, vegans and gluten-free folks.
You can roast the sweet potatoes on their own or throw them in the oven as you're cooking the turkey or pie. (This recipe is also a great way to serve leftover sweet potatoes after Thanksgiving!) Then just whip them up in a food processor with a few pinches of chile pepper and other spices traditionally found in harissa, a smoky, spicy North African condiment. If you already have a dry harissa spice mix or harissa paste on hand, you can take shortcut and substitute that for the individual spices.
Roasted Sweet Potato and Harissa Dip
Makes about 1 cup
2 sweet potatoes (about 1 pound)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon dried chile pepper flakes (I like a mix of aleppo, ancho, and urfa biber)
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground caraway
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Prick the sweet potatoes all over with a fork and roast on a foil-lined baking sheet until soft, about 1 hour. When cool enough to handle, peel the sweet potatoes or scoop out the flesh, whichever you find easier.
Combine the sweet potato flesh with the remaining ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings if desired.
Serve with crackers, vegetable chips, or crudités. (Can be made 3 days ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)
• If you have a harissa spice blend or harissa paste on hand, feel free to substitute that for the individual spices. Mixtures vary, so start with about a teaspoon of dry or wet harissa and adjust to taste.