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Vandal Sweet Potatoes - 2017 Winner

This dish features a group of unlikely friends: sweet potatoes, apples, pecans, and balsamic vinegar. The tender crunch of chopped pecans complements the smooth texture of the potatoes while the rich tang of balsamic vinegar enhances and balances their sweetness. Proudly sporting vandal colors, this unexpected twist on a classic dish is sure to become a new favorite!

From the Kitchen of Katie Akin and Satoko Haji

  • Yield: 8 servings 
  • Serving Size: 1/2 cup 
  • Gluten-Free. Contains nuts.
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Bake Time: 25 minutes
  • Gluten free, Vegetarian


Mashed Potatoes

  • • 3 small honey crisp apples, 3" diameter, peeled and chopped
  • • 3 medium sweet potatoes (or 3 ½ cups, cooked and pureed)
  • • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • • 3 tablespoons dark brown sugar, packed
  • • 3 tablespoons butter
  • • ½ cup chopped pecans

Balsamic Brown Sugar Sauce

  • • ½ cup balsamic vinegar
  • • ¼ cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • • 2 teaspoons cornstarch, dissolved in ¼ cup water
  • 8 fresh mint leaves for garnish, optional
  • Additional pecans for garnish, optional


  1. Pre-heat oven to 350F.
  2. Peel and chop apples into 1/4 inch cubes and place in a small (6x6”) baking dish. 
  3. Peel sweet potatoes and slice into 1/4 inch rounds. 
  4. Bake apples and sweet potatoes at 350 degrees for 25 minutes until potatoes are softened and the apples have released their juices and are soft, but still firm. 

While baking sweet potatoes and apples, make Balsamic Brown Sugar Sauce:

  1. In a small pan, simmer balsamic vinegar on low heat for about 15 minutes to evaporate some of the strongest flavors. (DO NOT smell the pan directly!) 
  2. Add brown sugar and spices to the vinegar, then drizzle in the dissolved cornstarch while stirring continually.
  3. Remove pan from heat and stir occasionally until thickened. Set aside.
  1. In a bowl, cream baked sweet potatoes, cinnamon, cornstarch, brown sugar, and butter with an electric hand mixer. Stir in pecans and chopped apples (include any apple juice released into pan during the baking process).
  2. Serve the mashed sweet potato with Balsamic Brown Sugar Sauce. If desired, decorate with mint leaves and more chopped pecans. 

Nutrition Data (per ½ cup serving)

Mashed Sweet Potatoes

  • Calories: 186, Protein: 2 g, 
  • Carbohydrates: 24 g (dietary fiber 4 g, total sugars 10 g, added sugars 3 g), 
  • Fat: 9 g (saturated 3 g, monounsaturated 4 g, polyunsaturated 2 g), Cholesterol: 11 mg, Sodium: 22 mg


  • Calories: 27, Protein 0 g, Carbohydrates: 6 g (dietary fiber 0 g, total sugars 5 g, added sugars 3 g), Fat: 0 g, Sodium: 4 mg
Vandal Sweet Potatoes (2017)
Vandal Sweet Potatoes (2017)
Katie Akin and Satoko Haji
Katie Akin and Satoko Haji

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Advancement Services

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University of Idaho
Moscow, ID 83844-3302

Mailing Address:

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Moscow, ID 83844-3302

Phone: 208-885-2072