Roasted sweet potatoes offer such promise, yet too often deliver little but blandly starchy sweetness. Looking to enliven them, we found inspiration in tzimmes, a classic Ashkenazi Jewish dish that doubles down on the sweetness, but in a way that elevates and lightens the dish, rather than adding sugary heft.

Though its name translates to “big fuss” in Yiddish, tzimmes actually is anything but, requiring just a few high-­impact ingredients—namely bright citrus and dried fruit—to give it its trademark sweet-­sour-­savory profile.

From the outset, the challenge was to keep things balanced. Root vegetable dishes can easily lean too sweet—and tzimmes is no exception, with many traditional versions often calling for brown sugar or honey. But Amelia Saltsman, author of “The Seasonal Jewish Kitchen,” prefers to lighten her version of tzimmes by cutting extra sweeteners entirely. “Why add all of that sugar to an already-sweet vegetable?” she says.

With this in mind, we stuck with the high-heat roast—not always common to tzimmes—which underscored the natural sweetness of the root vegetable while balancing it with savory depth through caramelization, using no additional sugar. From there, it was all about tweaking the flavor profile for even more balance.

Fruit and spices are classic additions to tzimmes, and we experimented with different combinations. Tossing the sweet potatoes in orange juice before roasting imparted the traditional citrusy tang without the sugar overload. We found a sprinkle of floral coriander and nutty, crunchy caraway offered a fresh take on the classic spiced flavor profile. And while many recipes for tzimmes call for prunes, we felt dried sour cherries were the perfect bright foil for the vegetable-­allium mix.

To offset the deep caramelized flavors of the roasted vegetables, we finished the dish with a citrus-tahini drizzle and a sprinkling of chopped pistachios. The tahini sauce added a touch of richness, sharpened by more fresh orange juice, while the crunchy, buttery nuts provided welcome texture. The final dish was savory, bright and fresh—no fuss required.