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Inspired by the Italian zucchini tart, this sweet potato scarpaccia is the perfect addition to any meal. With a crispy exterior, cornmeal filling, and savory parmesan, it's not only unique, it's delicious!
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What makes this dish special
The first time I saw a video on how to make zucchini scarpaccia, I was immediately intrigued. It was a brilliant way to utilize zucchini, turning the mild vegetable into a savory, crispy, cheesy tart. Unfortunately, life got the best of me and I didn't have a chance to make this Italian zucchini tart when the vegetable was in season. But that doesn't mean I forgot about the dish.
Still wondering about what this tart tastes like, I decided to make a fall version, using sweet potato as the main ingredient. By incorporating a touch of sweetness, a pinch of warm cinnamon, fresh thyme, and plenty of parmesan, this sweet potato scarpaccia ended up being absolutely amazing. The crispy exterior with the tender filling and bites of sweet potato throughout is such a wonderful combination. Now I know I have to prepare the traditional recipe once summer comes along!
- Sweet potatoes: The starchy root vegetable is the star of the dish, adding structure and a touch of sweetness to the tart. You can also experiment with butternut squash, yams, kabocha squash, or acorn squash.
- Rice flour: A gluten-free flour made from finely milled rice. Do not use glutinous rice flour also known as sweet rice flour, which has a stickier quality. You can also use all-purpose flour if you prefer.
- Cornmeal: Use fine yellow cornmeal, not coarse or medium-ground cornmeal. Fine yellow cornmeal gives the tart just the right amount of texture.
- Parmesan: The hard-aged cheese adds richness and a savory flavor. You can also use pecorino romano, grana padano, or a combination of the cheeses.
- Cinnamon: For a warm, sweet flavor, add cinnamon to the sweet potatoes.
- Eggs: The eggs help bind together the batter while also adding moisture.
How to make sweet potato scarpaccia
Step 1: Prepare sweet potatoes
Begin by thinly slicing two medium sweet potatoes, approximately 19 ounces in total or about 4 cups. You want to slice the potatoes about 1/16-inch thick. Any thicker, and the tart will be too soft in the center. I use the aid of my handy mandoline to achieve consistent thin slices.
Toss the sliced sweet potato in a bowl with a mixture of melted butter, brown sugar, and a dash of cinnamon. This forms the sweet and caramelized foundation of the scarpaccia.
Step 2: Make batter
In a separate bowl, whisk together water, olive oil, and eggs until well combined, setting the liquid mixture aside for the next step. Now, in a large bowl, combine grated parmesan, fine yellow cornmeal, rice flour, fresh thyme, salt, and black pepper. Stir this mixture and create a well in the center. Pour the prepared water and egg mixture and stir until a cohesive batter forms. The batter will be thick, almost like cornbread batter.
Gently fold the buttery sweet potato slices into the batter until evenly combined. Since the batter is so thick, it'll take a couple of minutes to stir everything together. But the idea is to have almost every slice of sweet potato covered in the cornmeal mixture.
Pour the prepared batter into the awaiting baking dish, spreading it into a uniform layer. I like to use a spatula and gently press down on the sweet potatoes, making sure every nook and cranny is filled.
Step 3: Bake
Pop the scarpaccia in the preheated oven for about 30-35 minutes or until it achieves a golden brown, crispy perfection. Keep an eye on the vegetable tart because it can start to char quickly towards the end.
Remove the sweet potato scarpaccia from the oven, and elevate its appeal by generously topping it with extra grated Parmesan and a sprinkle of fresh chives.
Dig your knife into that beautiful tart and hear that crunch. Now you know it's going to be wonderfully crispy just by that sound!
With my very first bite, I fell in love. I couldn't believe how delicious this dish was, and quite easy to prepare! With the balance of savory parmesan with fresh herbs, warm spices, and tender sweet potato, you really can't go wrong.
Frequently asked questions
Ensuring that the sweet potatoes are thinly sliced and spread evenly in the batter helps in achieving a crispy texture.
Yes, however, if the scarpaccia cools, make sure to reheat it in the oven before serving. As it cools, the crispy exterior might soften. Since the texture is key to the dish, I recommend reheating it so that the outside becomes crispy again.
This scarpaccia makes a great side dish for various meals. It pairs well with a simple salad, steak, roasted chicken, or as a complement to a larger Italian-inspired spread.
More sweet potato ideas
Looking for more sweet potato recipes? Check these out:
Sweet Potato Scarpaccia
- 2 medium sweet potatoes thinly sliced (19 ounces)
- ¼ cup melted butter
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ⅓ cup water
- ⅓ cup olive oil
- 2 large eggs
- 1 ½ cups grated parmesan plus extra for serving
- 1 cup fine yellow cornmeal
- ½ cup rice flour
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon chopped chives
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a 9x13-inch baking dish with parchment paper and spray generously with cooking spray.
- Toss thinly sliced sweet potatoes with melted butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon in a large bowl. Set aside.
- Whisk together water, olive oil, and eggs until well combined. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine parmesan, cornmeal, rice flour, thyme, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine, then make a well in the center. Pour water and egg mixture and mix until well combined.
- Add seasoned sweet potatoes to batter, stirring gently until combined. Pour batter into prepared baking dish and spread into an even layer. Bake sweet potato scarpaccia for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown and crispy. Remove from the oven and top with extra grated parmesan and fresh chives. Serve warm.