What’s in Season? Sweet Potatoes

Of course it’s no secret that sweet potatoes are in their prime right now. Why else would they be ubiquitous on the Thanksgiving table? But sweet potatoes should come to visit more often than once a year in a sweet and sticky casserole. They can do anything that potatoes can do, and they can do it with more nutritious value and more glamour, thanks to that bright orange color.

Many people around these parts refer to sweet potatoes as “yams,” but they’re not the same thing at all. Sweet potatoes are the orange tuber we’re all familiar with. Yams are harder to come by, and are usually white or red. Still, yams can stand in for sweet potatoes, as can boniato, pumpkin and winter squash.

Whole Sweet Potatoes One medium sweet potato will serve two easily. Look for smaller sweet potatoes that are deep orange in color. Try to avoid those with worm holes or soft spots, but if you get one, cut away the affected area when peeling; the rest should be fine. Sweet potatoes will keep for up to two weeks in a cool place (not the refrigerator).

Simmered Sweet Potatoes
Mashed sweet potatoes are a holiday staple (see my simple recipes here). But there are lots of other ways to cook a sweet potato. Here are some suggestions:

  • Simmer ’em: Cube and simmer over low in 1/4 cup stock per 1 pound cubed sweet potatoes with a little butter until just tender, 20-30 minutes
  • Braise ’em: Dice and brown in butter before simmering until tender in 1/4 cup liquid
  • Bake ’em: Prick the skin with a fork and bake at 425 degrees until soft, about 1 hour; great topped with Parmesan, butter or even pesto
  • Roast ’em: Peel, cube and roast; they are particularly nice as part of a medley of roasted root vegetables
  • Make “fries”: Cut into wedges, toss with oil and cayenne, and bake at 475 degrees for 20-30 minutes
  • Make “hash browns”: Cut into matchsticks and pan-fry over medium-high in oil or butter until browned, about 15 minutes

Sweet potatoes make an unusual addition to many recipes. Why not try them in risotto, as a filling for ravioli or use them to make a vegetable bread (similar to pumpkin bread)? I have one left over from Thanksgiving that I am planning to turn into a filling for burritos; I’ll post the recipe afterward.

So, how are you going to use your leftover sweet potatoes?


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4 thoughts on “What’s in Season? Sweet Potatoes

  1. David 27 November 2006 at 9:23 pm

    I don’t actually have leftover sweet potatoes, but 2 things I like to do with them are: 1) use some cubed sweet potatoes in a spicy stir fry for some contrast with the heat; and 2) combine them with “regular” potatoes for my “scrumptious mashers”…recipe here:


  2. myfamilylife 28 November 2006 at 6:25 pm

    I love sweet potatoes. Thanks for the recipe!

  3. cooknkate 1 December 2006 at 8:24 am

    yes….sweet pots. LOVE them! and those called garnet yams…..LOVE them TOO! I like to grate them and make hash browns with them. Delish…

    your burrito recipe looks SO good…..if only my 12 yr old wouldn’t chastise me within an inch of my life for trying to feed him something so “healthy” but then again, it’s my kitchen, so there!

  4. […] potatoes: bake, hash browns […]

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