These tasty little numbers are the result of a mistake I made when thinking I could make Sweet Potato Paninis with just sweet potatoes. As yummy as they are, they lack in the rich starchiness of regular potatoes, like Idahos. The starch is needed to make and shape the "bread" for the paninis.
Although I used some of the mixture for the panini recipe, I was left with a big bowl of mashed sweet potato, egg, bread crumbs, and assorted spices. In being inspired by my mom's candied sweet potatoes at Thanksgiving, I put the mixture in small casserole dishes and layered them with toasted panko and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano. After baking them in the oven, I had a couple sweet and savory casseroles that I enjoyed as side dishes with my dinners.
1 ½ lbs sweet potatoes, baked & mashed
½ cup panko breadcrumbs
2 large eggs
2 tsp rosemary
1 tsp thyme
½ tsp sage
½ tsp black pepper
½ tsp sea salt
¼ tsp garlic powder
2 tbsp Parmigiano-Reggiano, for sprinkling
¾ cup panko bread crumbs
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tsp rosemary
Place an oven rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat oven to 400°F.
Cook the sweet potatoes: Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Using a fork, pierce the outside of each sweet potato about 5-10 times. Place on the baking sheet and space them evenly apart. Bake for 40-50 minutes, rotating once, until fork tender. Remove from the oven and slice the top of the skins open to allow the sweet potatoes to cool. Once cool enough to handle, remove the flesh from the skins and place in a large mixing bowl. Discard the skins.
Heat oven to 350°F.
Using a potato masher, mash the sweet potatoes until smooth. Add the breadcrumbs, eggs, and spices to the sweet potatoes and mix until well combined. In one medium casserole dish, or two smaller dishes, add the sweet potato mixture and spread evenly. Set aside.
Toast the breadcrumbs: In a medium sauté pan, melt the butter on medium-low heat. Add the minced garlic and swirl the pan often, until the foaming subsides and the garlic is fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the rosemary and cook for 1 minute. Add the panko and stir to coat evenly. Cook, stirring frequently, until the breadcrumbs are golden brown, about 4-5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. Evenly add the toasted breadcrumbs to the top of the sweet potato mixture.
Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, sprinkle the Parmigiano-Reggiano evenly on top, and bake for another 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve.