Roasted Sweet Potato and Asparagus Po’boy from Bryant Terry’s Vegetable Kingdom

This Roasted Sweet Potato and Asparagus Po’boy recipe is an exclusive from Bryant Terry’s cookbook Vegetable Kingdom. Click on the image below to find out where you can purchase a copy of the book. Disclaimer: the cookbooks we feature are independently selected by our Best of Vegan editors and are in no way sponsored by the author and/or the publisher. All content is used with permission. 

Roasted Sweet Potato and Asparagus Po’boy

creole rémoulade • heirloom tomato • dill-pickled fennel
makes 4 sandwiches

When I lived in New Orleans, ordering a vegetarian po’boy meant you would get bread, mayonnaise, iceberg lettuce, and bland tomatoes. This recipe is the type of sandwich that I wish my crew and I could have eaten back in the day. I started conceiving of this recipe in 2012 when I sandwiched some leftover candied sweet potatoes from my book The Inspired Vegan between bread for lunch. While sweet, the Garnet yams also had a savory essence from the miso, molasses, sesame oil, and tamari in the marinade (in case there is any confusion, while labeled “yams,” Jewel and Garnet yams are actually sweet potatoes). Since most folks can’t imagine a po’boy without some deep-fried element, I was reluctant to share a recipe for one that was stuffed with sweet potatoes. That changed when I ran across a po’boy on the Food & Wine website created by chef Kevin Nashan that included roasted sweet potatoes dusted with Cajun seasoning. I coat mine in blackened seasoning instead, and before roasting, I parboil them. In culinary school, I learned that this method yields a sweeter, creamier roasted sweet potato. I imagine this sandwich sitting at the crossroads of winter and spring, so I add roasted asparagus to the mix. The dense, sweet-savory Garnet yams and the delicate, earthy asparagus are a perfect match. The piquant Creole rémoulade brings everything together. While this sandwich may not visually read as a po’boy in the way that most people envision them, you best believe it has the spirit of a classic New Orleans “dressed” po’boy.

  • 2 tablespoons plus ¾ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed 
  • 8 ounces asparagus, trimmed and sliced into ¾-inch pieces 
  • 1 pound Garnet yams, peeled and sliced into ½-inch-thick rounds 
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 
  • 2 teaspoons molasses 
  • 2 teaspoons Bragg Liquid Aminos 
  • 1 tablespoon Blackened Seasoning (see below)
  • 2 (15-inch) loaves soft-crusted French or Italian bread 
  • Creole Rémoulade (see below), for dressing 
  • 2 large heirloom tomatoes, cut into ¼-inch-thick slices 
  • Freshly ground white pepper 
  • 1 cup Dill-Pickled Fennel (see below)
  • 2 cups shredded little gem lettuce
  1. In a large pot, bring 3 quarts water to a boil over high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of the salt and the asparagus. Remove from the heat and let the asparagus sit for 30 seconds. With a spider or tongs, transfer the asparagus to a colander and set aside. Gently slide the yams into the hot water, cover, and set aside for 1 hour. Drain the yams in a colander and set aside to dry for 30 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl. 
  2. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. 
  3. In a small bowl, combine 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, the molasses, liquid aminos, blackened seasoning, and ½ teaspoon of the salt and mix well. Pour the mixture over the yams and gently toss to coat. Gently transfer the yams to one of the prepared baking sheets, spread them in an even layer, and roast until tender, about 50 minutes, flipping the rounds once after 25 minutes to ensure even cooking. 
  4. In a medium bowl, combine the asparagus with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and ¼ teaspoon salt. Toss well and transfer to the other prepared baking sheet. After you flip the yams at the halfway mark, place the baking sheet with the asparagus in the oven. Roast for 25 minutes, until tender and crisp.
  5. Remove both sheets of vegetables from the oven and set aside. 
  6. Halve the bread crosswise then lengthwise and place the slices in the oven for 4 to 5 minutes, or until just lightly toasted. 
  7. This is my suggestion for serving, but feel free to play around with a method that works for you. Spread the cut sides of the bread generously with rémoulade (I’m talking about a messy slather). Divide the yam rounds evenly between the bottom halves of the bread. Top the yams with a few spears of asparagus. Top the asparagus with the tomato slices, then sprinkle with salt and a few turns of white pepper. Top the tomatoes with the pickled fennel, then top the fennel with a handful of lettuce. Cover with the top halves of the bread, and enjoy.

Suggested soundtrack: “Voodoo” by The Dirty Dozen Brass Band from Voodoo

Roasted Sweet Potato and Asparagus Po’boy from Bryant Terry's Vegetable Kingdom

dill-pickled fennel

dill seeds • raw cane sugar • rice vinegar • orange peel 
makes 1 quart

I’m not sure about other parts of the country, but in Memphis when I was growing up, eating whole dill pickles stuffed with sugar-sweet candy was a thing that Black kids did. I think it was an inventive way for young people to combine different foods to create a new trend. I remember the first time my big cousin Latrice let me try a bite of pickle with a peppermint stick stabbed in the middle—I must have been around seven years old. At that age, I found the flavor of dill pickles too intense to enjoy by itself, but I liked the interplay of the pickle’s juicy, crunchy, and intensely sour flavor with the refreshing, cooling sensation of peppermint. I thought it was even more awesome to spike dill pickles with an orange Jolly Rancher or two. Inspired by that combination, I add orange peel and a touch of organic raw cane sugar to the brine I use for pickling fennel to give it citrusy sweetness. I mostly eat these pickles on sandwiches, but they also work well atop some grain-based salads and make a nice addition to party cheese boards.

  • 2 medium fennel bulbs, trimmed, halved lengthwise, and cored 
  • 2  ½ tablespoons kosher salt 
  • 1 cup unseasoned rice vinegar 
  • 2 tablespoons raw cane sugar 
  • 1 teaspoon dill seeds 
  • 6 whole black peppercorns
  • ¼ teaspoon mustard seeds 
  • Pinch of ground cinnamon 
  • 1 (2-inch) strip orange peel 
  • 2 large garlic cloves 
  • 1 bay leaf
  1. Thinly slice the fennel halves lengthwise on a mandoline. Transfer the fennel to a medium bowl, toss with 1 tablespoon of the salt, and set aside for 10 minutes, tossing every 2 minutes. Transfer the fennel to a colander, place the colander over the bowl, and let rest for 45 minutes to draw out excess liquid. 
  2. While the fennel is resting, sterilize a 1-quart canning jar and its lid and ring (see page 35) and set aside. 
  3. In a small saucepan, combine the vinegar, 1 cup water, the sugar, dill seeds, peppercorns, mustard seeds, cinnamon, orange zest, and remaining 1 ½ tablespoons salt. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat and simmer until the liquid is hot to the touch and all the salt has dissolved. 
  4. Pack the fennel into the sterilized jar. Add the garlic and bay leaf, then pour the pickling liquid into the jar. Set aside to cool. Seal the jar and refrigerate for at least 1 day before using. 
  5. Like most pickles, these taste more delicious as the days go by. They should keep in the refrigerator for up to a year.

Suggested soundtrack: “La La” by Lil Wayne from Tha Carter III

 

creole rémoulade 

makes about 1 ½ cups
  • ¾ cup vegan mayonnaise 
  • ¼ cup Creole-style mustard or other whole-grain mustard 
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 
  • 1 ½ tablespoons drained capers, finely chopped
  • 1 ½ tablespoons finely chopped gherkins 
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper 
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, mustard, lemon juice, capers, gherkins, and cayenne. Season to taste with salt and pepper. 
  2. Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use. The rémoulade will keep for 4 days in the refrigerator.

 

blackened seasoning 

makes about  ½ cup
  • 2 tablespoons paprika 
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds, toasted 
  • 2 teaspoons coriander seeds, toasted 
  • 2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns 
  • 1 ½ teaspoons coarse sea salt
  • 1 ½ teaspoons garlic powder 
  • 1 teaspoon whole white peppercorns 
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder 
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme 
  •  ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
  1. Combine all the ingredients in a mortar or spice grinder and grind into a fine powder. Transfer to a jar and seal tightly. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.

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Roasted Sweet Potato and Asparagus Po’boy from Bryant Terry's Vegetable Kingdom

Reprinted with permission from Vegetable Kingdom: The Abundant World of Vegan Recipes by Bryant Terry, copyright © 2020. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House.

Photography copyright: Ed Anderson © 2020

(Click on the image above to order your copy)

If you loved this Roasted Sweet Potato and Asparagus Po’boy, you might also like…

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