Sweet potatoes have the same hearty texture as regular potatoes, but they’re so much for flavorful, with a slightly sweet, earthy taste that only intensifies during cooking. Don’t wait for Thanksgiving to give them a spot on your dinner table! Her are are top tips for choosing and working with sweet potatoes, plus some new ways to use them in the kitchen.
Look for: Sweet potatoes are available year-round, but their true seasons are fall and winter. Choose firm, unblemished sweet potatoes without any breaks in their thin skin. They do not keep well; store them in a cool, dark place, but plan to use them within a week or so.
Prep tips: To bake whole sweet potatoes, scrub them well first and prick their skins in a few places with a fork. Place them on a baking sheet to catch their juices, and bake in a preheated 400°F oven until they are tender when pierced with a knife, about 45 minutes. They can then be peeled and sliced or cut into chunks for glazing, or pureed. You can also peel uncooked sweet potatoes and cook them in salted boiling water until tender before glazing or pureeing.
Uses: Sweet potatoes are a staple of Southern and tropical cooking. They are delicious cubed and roasted with other root vegetables or added to stews and soups. They can be substituted for regular potatoes in many recipes, where roasting, baking, frying, stewing or steaming highlight their rich flavor and firm texture. They will contribute more moisture than regular potatoes, so expect a slightly different texture in the finished dish.
Variations: The typical sweet potato typically has either yellow-brown skin and yellow flesh, or dark reddish or purplish skin and dark orange flesh. Specialty varieties include white-fleshed, beige-skinned Japanese Sweet; Louisiana’s famous copper colored Beauregard; the deep red-orange Jewel; the red-purple Carolina Ruby; and the long, narrow, batata originally from the Caribbean.
|Sweet Potato Fries with Garlic and Herbs
Anyone who likes classic French fries is guaranteed to like these cheese-and-herb-dusted sweet potato fries. They are roasted rather than deep-fried, which makes them healthier without sacrificing flavor.
|Sweet Potato and Leek Custard
Tangy cheese lends a wonderful contrast to the sweet potatoes and garlic in this dish. Bake and serve the potatoes in individual ramekins, or prepare in a baking dish and present buffet style. (These are perfect for a Thanksgiving dinner!)
|Roasted Pumpkin with Garlic, Sweet Potatoes and Cherry Tomatoes
This medley of roasted vegetables transitions between the seasons with summer’s last tomatoes and autumn’s first root vegetables and firm squashes. If you’ve never combined maple syrup and olive oil before, you’re in for a pleasant surprise.
|Sweet Potato Mash
Melted butter seasoned with fresh sage, ground cinnamon, grated nutmeg and brown sugar give a flavor boost to these mashed sweet potatoes. Drizzle with the maple-pecan topping for a sweet crunch.
|Sweet Potato Puree with Marshmallow and Pecans
This play on the traditional sweet potato-marshmallow holiday dish was created by Chefs Andrew Ticer and Michael Hudman of the Memphis restaurant Hog & Hominy. It combines brown sugar, pie spices, butter, toasted pecans and a homemade marshmallow topping.
|Turkey, Two-Bean and Sweet Potato Chili
Here, we’ve lightened up classic chili by using ground turkey instead of beef. Sweet potatoes add nutritious heartiness.
|Root-Vegetable Tacos with Lime-Cilantro Cream
A mix of root vegetables, including sweet potatoes and parsnips, makes this vegetarian main dish hearty and original.
|Molasses-Glazed Roast Pork and Sweet Potatoes
An easy glaze made from molasses, mustard and fresh rosemary coats both the pork and the sweet potatoes in this cozy supper. Sauté greens or steam broccoli to serve alongside.
|Beef and Sweet Potato Stir-Fry
Here, sweet potatoes are cut into matchsticks and quickly sauteed with slices of marinated flank steak and green onions. Serve over a bed of white rice to soak up the sauce.
|Sweet Potato Soufflé with Spiced Pecan Topping
The warmly spiced crunch of the pecan streusel contrasts nicely with the smooth and naturally sweet soufflé. Bonus: it’s easy to make ahead!
|Cinnamon-Crunch Sweet Potato Muffins
Pureed sweet potatoes form the base of these spiced muffins, which are perfect for a fall breakfast or brunch. A topping of cinnamon-sugar makes them feel extra cozy.