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Sweet Potato Tian with Heirloom Apples

Do we ever have a great dish for you! Check out this Sweet Potato Tian with Heirloom Apples. (What’s a tian? It’s basically a layered casserole. More precisely, it’s a dish of finely chopped vegetables baked in olive oil in an earthenware vessel.)

Why heirloom apples? Have you ever taken a bite of a store-bought apple and said to yourself, “How can something that supposedly grew in the sun, on a tree, have so little flavor?” Yeah, us too.

Heirloom Apples

“Heirloom” apples are the old-time breeds of apples that have been around for decades or even centuries. They tend to have cool names like Ashmed’s Kernel, Pomme Grise, Ribston Pippin, Wickson and Hudson’s Golden Gem. Also, they come in a variety of colors and shadings with tastes ranging from sweet to tart. But most importantly, when you bite into them, you’ll be transported back to a time when you could pick an apple from a tree and have it taste like a real apple. In other words, you won’t find any bland, mealy supermarket apples among heirloom apples.

Earlier this month Frieda’s Specialty Produce Company sent us a selection of heirloom apples. The Pink Pearl, our new favorite heirloom apple, has a sweet, crisp taste and a surprisingly bright pink-streaked flesh. As soon as we saw it, we knew we wanted to do something fun with it. This Heirloom Apple/Sweet Potato Tian fits the bill.

It’s a sweet side dish that will work for just about any fall meal and even Thanksgiving. (Who needs marshmallows when you’ve got apples?). Yes, the layering is a little labor-intensive. But that’s what your kids are there to help you with – right?

Heirloom Apple/Sweet Potato Tian

Heirloom Apple/Sweet Potato Tian

A layered casserole with thinly sliced heirloom apples and sweet potatoes.

Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Keyword casserole, heirloom apple, side dish, sweet potato, thanksgiving, tian
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings 4


  • 1 large sweet potato
  • 3 Pink Pearl apples, or any crisp, juicy fall apple
  • olive oil
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • Dash nutmeg and ground cloves
  • 2 tbsp butter


  1. Peel the sweet potato and slice it in a mandolin or food processor into very thin (1/8th to 1/16th-inch) slices. Next core the apple and slice it the same way as the sweet potato.

  2. Grease a small casserole pan with olive oil. Carefully stack the sweet potato and apple slices into alternating layers and arrange the layers in a circular or line pattern in your casserole dish. Drizzle with honey, sprinkle spices on top, and dot with butter.

  3. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour, or until sweet potato slices are tender.

After it bakes, the whole dish comes together in a lovely orange hue. It’s the perfect side dish for Thanksgiving, of course. But it can surely enhance any fall, winter, or spring feast.

Like it? Pin it!
Sweet potato tian

P.S. For more great Thanksgiving dishes, see our Plant-Based Thanksgiving Dishes round-up.

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24 Responses to Sweet Potato Tian with Heirloom Apples

  1. Valentina October 12, 2012 at 10:08 am #

    Absolutely gorgeous Heirloom Apple Sweet Potato Tian!!! The Pink Pearl apples are new to me and when I cut into my first one, I was elated! Stunning!

    • Jeanne October 12, 2012 at 10:41 am #

      Thanks, V! It was fun to make too!

  2. Colleen @ foodietots October 12, 2012 at 10:09 am #

    Guilty of doing sweet potatoes with marshmallows for Thanksgiving, but this looks amazing. Will be making it soon!

    • Jeanne October 12, 2012 at 3:14 pm #

      LOL – Thanks, Colleen!

  3. sippitysup October 18, 2012 at 10:13 am #

    I find it interesting that so many heirloom apples seem to have family names. Must be because they were found on family farms originally. GREG

    • Jeanne October 18, 2012 at 10:39 am #

      Yes – I wish more of those old-time apple names had survived!

  4. Priscilla | ShesCookin November 3, 2013 at 2:48 pm #

    Such a beautiful dish – thanks for contributing it to our Thanksgiving roundup, Jeanne 🙂

    • Jeanne November 3, 2013 at 3:01 pm #

      Thanks for including me, Priscilla!

  5. angela@spinachtiger November 5, 2013 at 9:19 am #

    Not this one has really caught my eye. You have put two of my favorite foods together. Gorgeous.

    • Jeanne November 5, 2013 at 9:40 am #

      Thanks for stopping by , Angela!

  6. Karen (Back Road Journal) November 6, 2013 at 1:01 pm #

    What a great idea…I can’t wait to try the recipe. I have an orchard with 300 heirloom apple trees, so I’m always looking for new ways to use apples. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Querino de Freitas June 4, 2015 at 12:45 am #

    ====The french are masters in the kitchen,their country cooking are really so tasty and simple to put together………In Madeira where I am from,,,this was a sunday dish but the tomatoes was sliced thickly ,,my aunt always made sure it baked in big oblong dish which was kept specially for the tian……lovely recipes you post…….Querino

  8. christy October 9, 2015 at 7:32 am #

    what would be a good meat to serve with this?

    • Jeanne October 9, 2015 at 9:08 am #

      Oooh – great question! It could work for Thanksgiving with a roast turkey but I’d also serve it with pork roast or pork chops for a real fall kind of meal!

  9. Kerri November 21, 2015 at 7:36 am #

    This is beautiful … can I prepare it in the morning and bake it at dinner?

    • Jeanne November 21, 2015 at 9:38 am #

      Thanks, Keri! Yes, you could definitely do that!

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