Sweet potato ‘ballet slippers’ with pepitas

Karoline Boehm Goodnick for The Globe

Serves 4

Pepita is the Spanish word for pumpkin or squash seeds. Look for them in the bulk section of a well-stocked market. They’re packed with nutrition and add a salty crunch to creamy, mashed sweet potatoes. After baking, the potato skins look just like ballet slippers.

4 large sweet potatoes
½ cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
4 teaspoons olive oil
2 tablespoons maple syrup
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
2 tablespoons panko breadcrumbs

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1. Set the oven at 400 degrees. Pierce the sweet potatoes with a fork. Set them in a roasting pan and bake for 1 hour, or until tender.

2. Spread pepitas on a rimmed baking sheet. Toast for 5 to 6 minutes, turning often, or until they begin to brown; cool.

3. When potatoes are cool enough, slice a very thin piece from the bottoms so they sit flat. Slice off the top third of each one.

4. Use a small spoon to scoop out the insides, keeping the skins intact; be careful not to poke a hole in the bottom or break through the sides. Peel and discard the skins on the tops of the potatoes.

5. In a large bowl, mash the potato flesh from the bottoms and tops with 3 teaspoons of the olive oil, maple syrup, half the pepitas, salt, and pepper. Using a small spoon, fill the skins with the mashed potato mixture, mounding it generously in each one.

6. In a food processor or blender, pulse the remaining pepitas with Parmesan and panko. Stir in the remaining 1 teaspoon olive oil to moisten the crumbs.

7. Set the potatoes in the roasting pan. Sprinkle each with the pepita mixture. Bake for 25 minutes, or until breadcrumbs are golden and potatoes are heated through. Karoline Boehm Goodnick