Scalloped Sweet Potatoes with Sage Cream Sauce
These scalloped sweet potatoes are actually a mix of russet potatoes and yams smothered in sage cream sauce and baked with Gruyère cheese. This twist on a classic holiday side dish is guaranteed to steal the spotlight at your next holiday dinner or special gathering!
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A few years ago at Thanksgiving, my husband and I came up with the idea to put a spin on traditional scalloped potatoes by mixing regular russet potatoes with yams and flavouring with fresh sage from our garden.
The final product was so delicious that it quickly became a crowd pleaser and a favourite dish at Thanksgiving and Christmas.
We would make it year-round if it weren’t so decadent! But keeping it a special dish for holiday meals makes it all the more special (and keeps our buttons from busting off our pants).
How it all began…
Scalloped potatoes have always been one of my favourite holiday dishes. I’m not generally a huge fan of potatoes as I find them too heavy and starchy most of the time. But thinly-sliced potatoes in a creamy sauce with melted cheese??? Um, yes please.
Still, I wanted to mix it up a bit, so when we found out we’d be hosting Thanksgiving dinner a few years ago, we decided to make a scalloped potato dish with a bit of a twist.
We opted to do a 50/50 mix of regular potatoes and yams, and used fresh sage from our garden to make an herb-infused creamy sauce that we just knew would compliment this twist on a classic holiday side dish.
I was inspired by a recipe I’d once tried that consisted of pumpkin-stuffed pasta shells with sage cream sauce. I remembered the sauce being out-of-this-world delicious and wanted to recreate it.
I also figured that since sage went so well with pumpkin, it would also go well with yams. I’m not really sure why I equated yams with pumpkins, other than the fact they’re both orange-coloured vegetables that are best enjoyed in the fall and winter months. But for whatever reason, I just knew that since pumpkin and sage went together so well, yams and sage would too.
So we assembled our dish, row by row, covered it in sage cream sauce and, of course, topped it with melted cheese.
The best melty cheese for scalloped sweet potatoes
I think we used Swiss cheese the first time we made this, and it was really yummy. But as we made this dish more and more, the recipe began to evolve a bit and we upgraded to Gruyère cheese instead.
Gruyère is a type of Swiss cheese, but it’s richer and more flavourful than the standard Emmental-style Swiss Cheese (the kind with the holes in it) that we’re used to. You can, however, use either for this dish. But if you can afford the extra few bucks to splurge on Gruyère, I highly recommend it. It is hands down the best “melting” cheese on Earth. In my humble opinion, of course:)
The first time we made these scalloped sweet potatoes, they were a hit all around. We demolished the whole baking dish in no time and we and our family members raved about how good it was.
Naturally, we’ve kept this in our arsenal and have continued to make it at just about every holiday dinner throughout the year, especially Thanksgiving and Christmas, which we now tend to host every year. Coincidence?
The evolution of a much anticipated holiday side dish
We’ve now made this at least a half dozen times (probably more), and each time the dish seems to evolve just a little. I think we’ve finally perfected it. Oh, and every time we make it now, we make a double batch so we have one whole pan left over for ourselves. Because there is rarely, if ever, leftovers from just one pan full after a family meal! And we like to, um, indulge over the holiday season;)
We haven’t changed much from our original recipe (except the aforementioned cheese upgrade), but I think we’ve finally got all of the portions just right. Oh ya, and we now add a layer of sage cream sauce in between each layer of potatoes rather than just pouring it over top, making this dish the creamiest, most flavourful and decadent side dish to grace our table each holiday season.
This is not for the dieter, the vegan, or the faint of heart. But if you’re in search of a dish your guests will be raving about all the way until your next holiday dinner, look no further my friend. This is it.
- One medium to large yam or sweet potato (yams add a beautiful bright orange colour to this dish), sliced thin
- 2-3 large russet potatoes, sliced thin
- 1/2 a large onion, finely diced
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup butter, plus extra for greasing baking dish
- 2 cups whipping cream (or substitute heavy cream)
- 3 cups (about 300g) of Gruyère cheese, shredded (if you can’t find Gruyère you can substitute Swiss or Emmental)
- One bunch of fresh sage or 1/4 cup of dried sage, chopped fine
- 1/4 tsp. sea salt, plus more to taste
- Fresh cracked pepper to taste
- Prepare all of your ingredients so they’re ready to be assembled. For best results, slice potatoes very thin; About 1/8 or even 1/16 of an inch thick is best. Place sliced potatoes in a bowl of cold water to prevent browning and strain them well before assembling dish. Make sure to strain out as much liquid as possible (we strain our potatoes and then pat them dry on paper towels to help absorb any extra liquid). Yams do not need to be placed in water as they will not discolour.
- Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Melt butter and sauté onions and garlic until soft and translucent. Add cream and stir to mix well. Bring to a simmer and add sage, salt and pepper. Simmer for 4-5 minutes, stirring constantly to help infuse the flavour of the sage into the cream sauce.
- Lightly grease a 9x13-inch baking dish. Begin by assembling the first layer. Start with a single layer of yams. Then add a single layer of potatoes on top of the yams. Sprinkle a light layer of cheese over both layers of potatoes and cover with a light layer of sage cream sauce. Sprinkle with a little more salt and pepper to taste. Repeat 3 more times until you have 4 layers of yams, potatoes, cheese and sauce. Pour any extra sauce over the top layer and top with any remaining cheese.
- Cover with aluminum foil and bake covered for 45 minutes. Remove foil and bake for another 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool for 10-15 minutes before serving.
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