The 5 Best Ways to Eat Sweet Potatoes
A look at the metamorphosis of the beloved tuberous root
The New Year started, but winter hasn’t departed. To stave off the winter, healthy carbs are the essential remedies for our energy-craving bodies. This leads us to the sweet potato: It can be cooked as the base for savory dishes, baked alone, or even puréed to suit desserts.
In my home country China, the younger generation has very different memories of sweet potatoes from that of the older generations. For my grandma, this tuber is defined by its ability to grow well in large quantities regardless of the soil fertility. It was always cooked with rice porridge and served as a lifesaver during the difficult years, when natural disasters struck the land and the subsequent low yield almost starved millions of people during the early 1960s. To me, the smell of sweet potato is redolent of street vendors’ baked sweet potatoes, and the deep orange and caramelized flesh was such a sweet delight. The vegetable hasn’t changed much, but the efforts we put into bringing out the best flavors of a sweet potato can make a difference. In this collection, we hope to inspire you with different ways to cook sweet potatoes and new recipes that might revamp your experience of this undervalued earthy sweetie.
Why sweet potatoes?
When did you first decide to let sweet potato slide into your diet, forcing some old buddies out? I know people who did it for the hype of how healthy sweet potatoes are (usually compared to potatoes). It’s higher in fiber, lower in Glycemic Index(half of the potato’s value), and because it was once overlooked, its mauve-orange appearance feels fresh and chic. Like how the New York Times summarized its rise: “Sweet potatoes have achieved a status that just a few years ago would have seemed laughable.” The popularity of sweet potato fries demonstrates perfectly our craving for new takes on old recipes without having to stray so far from our comfort zones.
I always forget how stunning it is to look at the texture of a sweet potato. When you cut it in half, you’ll notice a round pattern of radiating fiber structures, encircled by a darker ring close to the skin. Judging it against the consistent but uneventful flesh of ordinary potatoes, you have the illusion that the extra fibers—the herald of healthiness—are lining up to salute you. For more information on how to shop and store it smartly, check out our In Season article about it.
Cook it right
The preparation of sweet potatoes is quite easy, and it’s similar to how you’d prep regular potatoes. Here are 6 different ways to prepare sweet potatoes, each showcasing a different aspect of its limitless potential!
In the oven
Roasting and baking are almost synonyms since they both refer to cooking in the oven, and the only difference lies in the temperature of baking. The idea of roasting is all about creating the crust—browning the surface to make it crispy. It adds texture and layers of flavor, and it’s normally reserved for savory dishes. But it doesn’t mean you can’t coat it or dress it with syrup or sweet sauces. With roasting, you can make both main dishes, like salad, or snacks, such as dried sweet potatoes. Save baking for hearty desserts and other “unbrowned” dishes.
Speaking of roasting sweet potatoes, you can’t miss out on this trending new star: Sweet potato fries. It’s a low effort side dish to make at home. With minimal efforts swapping potatoes for sweet potatoes, one gains maximal fun adding vibrant color, layers of texture and complexity of flavor to the classic fries. Although sweet potato fries and french fries are pretty close in calorie count, the former provides more dietary fiber, and only one-third of the unhealthy fat that regular potatoes possess. Still unsure of the high calories? Make a homemade dip to give your sweet potato fries a nutritional boost, like homemade guacamole.
Craving something sweet? Add sweet potato to your pie fillings and enjoy the nuanced flavors of hidden vegetables in your dessert. of. This pie boasts pleasing shades of orange-brown, from the reddish brown graham cracker pie crust, to the bright orange sweet potato filling, and the gradient stripes on the meringue, accented by darker brown—it’s certainly a beaut!.
One of the best things about baked sweet potatoes is that it caramelizes on its own, which means you don’t have to add any extra sugar to it, as you would with other veggies. Bake it properly and the well-rounded sweetness and fluffy texture will make you realize how perfect this root vegetable is on its own—without any seasoning! Of course, you can complement the sweetness with a touch of fresh citrus zest or go classic with salt and pepperlike in this recipe. Remember Nigella Lawson’s “ Best Macaroni Cheese” with sweet potatoes? If you like it with cheese, don’t miss out on this super easy and healthy sweet potato feta frittata and this simple but gorgeous three potato gratin.
More recipes for baked or roasted sweet potatoes:
On the stovetop
Frying sweet potatoes in a pan is a great way to get super crispy bits, perfect for a breakfast potato hash or as fritters. Grate the sweet potato, squeeze it dry, form it into patties, and make a cool orange “potato rösti”.
More fried sweet potato recipes:
Purée or mash it
A smooth and creamy sweet potato purée can amp up both savory and sweet dishes. Serve garlicky mashed sweet potatoes as a humble sidekick to steak or vegetarian fritters, or nestle them under a bed of marshmallows like with this Thanksgiving classic. You can even make a frosting for your chocolate cake with sweet potato purée and enjoy the extra fiber without sacrificing any of the delectable sweetness we all want from a cake.
There are various ways to make sweet potato purées: steam, bake, or boil. Whether you choose to cook it on the stovetop or in the oven, make sure to dice the sweet potato to ensure quicker cooking and easier mashing.
More recipes of mashed and pureed sweet potatoes:
A surprising and fantastic way to prep sweet potatoes is to use it as the base of curry. Here we have different recipes for it, the first one, our most beloved one, is such a party in a pot: fresh green snow peas swimming in an incandescent, creamy sweet potato curry, dotted with red cherry tomatoes and yellow bell peppers. If you’re not a fan of sour flavors and want something with a bit more meat, you can try this red chicken curry with sweet potatoes. Served with jasmine rice and fish sauce, the Thai aroma will impress your senses. Have only 30 minutes to cook? Don’t worry, try our simple and solid 5-ingredient sweet potato lentil curry soup. It makes a nutritious weekday dinner for every tired soul craving warm comfort.
More sweet potato soup recipes:
As I have said, the cooking possibilities with sweet potatoes are truly endless. Cappellacci, the sweet potato ravioli introduced in Marcella Hazan’s Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking is such a genius way to make its flavors shine. However, more often than not, sweet potato acts as the unseen hero in disguises. Have you ever heard of sweet potato wine? It is a specialty of some localities, and there are tutorials online teaching you how to brew this powerful alcohol at home.
Glass noodles made with sweet potato starch is very popular in East Asia, but making it requires huge efforts, but lucky for us, we can easily buy them ready-made at the grocery store. When I was a kid, there used to be deep-fried sweet potato balls sold on the street, which is now difficult to find in the metropolitan area. It reminds me that recipes come and go, but the food we eat remains the same, and it’s up to us to figure out how we want to cook with it.
More diverse ways to cook sweet potatoes as breakfast, lunch and dinner:
What is your favorite way to enjoy sweet potatoes? Let us know in the comments!
Published on February 5, 2020