The only sweet potatoes I knew until high school were served with Thanksgiving dinner, smothered in marshmallows and brown sugar. Now I'll take a sweet potato over its whiter, starchier counterpart just about any day of the week.
Since we all have to begrudgingly admit that yes, it is still winter (stupid groundhog!), now is the time to pay homage to root vegetables. Sweet potatoes can be served mashed, blended into soups, breads, stews or in lieu of a traditional baked potato. They also make great oven fries for moments when you're craving something that tastes a little bit more indulgent.
A lot of us confuse sweet potatoes with yams, when in actuality there are some subtle differences between the two. Even though we use the terms interchangeably, in actuality the sweet potatoes and yams that we find here in the US are actually all sweet potatoes. Yams, of which there are about 200 varieties do not grow in the States but were first identified by African slaves as "nayami." Pretty cool, right?
Neither sweet potatoes nor yams are actually even included in the "potato" family: they are considered tubers and the sweet potato that we know is actually considered a cousin to the morning glory flower.
Of all of the ways I've eaten sweet potatoes, roasted and baked sweet potatoes are by far my favorite. The longer they cook, the more flavorful they become. They have a natural sweetness that even satisfies my own enormous sweet tooth.
Oven Baked Sweet Potato Fries
(makes one serving)
1 medium sweet potato
2 teaspoons olive oil
Coarse sea salt and coarsely ground black pepper
1. Preheat oven to 450F. Scrub sweet potato, slicing off the ends as well as any blemishes that you wouldn’t want to eat. Slice the sweet potato lengthwise into 1/2 inch pieces,.and then stacking two pieces together, cut potatoes into 1/2 inch strips.
2. Arrange strips onto a foil lined baking sheet (or if you're out of aluminum foil like I was, a baking sheet coated with nonstick cooking spray). Brush strips with ollive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper, tossing gently to coat.
3. Bake for approximately 30 minutes, tossing sweet potatoes every ten minutes or so (to ensure that they cook evently, especially if some of your pieces wind up to be different sizes).
What's your favorite way to eat sweet potatoes?