02 November 2009

Savory Sweet Potatoes

I know I've said this before, but one of the things about the CSA is that it is strangely liberating to have no choice in what you get. You must cook the sweet potatoes, even though you'd never have bought them in the first place. So you try to find a way to like the sweet potatoes (or fill-in-the-blank with your own personal bĂȘte noire).

Yesterday, when faced with a need to make dinner and a need to address the largish bag of sweet potatoes, I turned to Twitter/Facebook, and asked for help.

twitter screen shot

The replies poured in. Apparently people have strong feelings about sweet potatoes. Go figure. However, there’s no consensus! Lots of people want to turn them into something so sweet that it might as well be dessert:

  • Brown sugar, but not a ton, butter, and cinnamon if your tastes go that way.
  • Add butter and brown sugar, LOTS.
  • With pecans and brown sugar. Tastes like candy.
  • Marshmallows baby, marshmallows.
Then there was the mashed and/or fried contingent:
  • Two tone potatoes (complete with a link provided by Thordora)
  • Mash & add some fresh lime juice--brightens them up. Or sweet potato latkes.
  • Mashed. Or make 'em like baked french fries in the oven.
  • I love sweet potato fries.
  • Sweet potato fries, made with olive oil in the oven, plus salt.
  • Sweet potato fries. Why does anyone make fries with regular potatoes?
There were a bunch of outliers:
  • Pie 'em.
  • Roasted together with various other potatoes and balsamic vinegar.
  • I make a savory gratin: thin slices, some crumbled sausage and seasoning between layers, pour white sauce over, top with bread crumbs, bake covered except the last few minutes.
  • Roasted with olive oil, sea salt and brown sugar.
  • I always love them in a casserole. No marshmallows, but with walnuts and bourbon.
  • Sweet potatoes are nice in stew. Or candied.
  • Go to Japan and get a roasted sweet potato from the yaki imo man! Delish!!!
But Midlife Mama had a whole mess of suggestions:
Roasted with rosemary, red peppers, and regular potatoes. Or cut into "fries" and roasted with a spicy mix--chili powder, cumin, cinnamon, salt. Or sliced in rounds, layered in a shallow casserole with leeks also sliced into rounds and lots of butter (sweet potatoes anna). Substituted for squash or pumpkin in breads, muffins, cakes. Then again, I love them, so anything is good.

I riffed on her first idea, and came up with something that even the husband liked - earlier he'd been insisting that sweet potatoes would make him gag. I peeled and chunked some white potatoes, some sweet potatoes and an onion. I chopped up some garlic, and a sweet red pepper. We still have rosemary in the garden, so I minced a spring of it, and tossed everything together in a baking dish, with a glug or two of olive oil, and some kosher salt. It went into a 350° oven for about 45 minutes, at which point I tossed in some chopped cooked bacon that was in the freezer, and baked it for another 15 minutes. We ate it on top of some toothy polenta that I'd found at the Greenmarket last month, with a green salad alongside. And it was good.


Swistle said...


wherewiller said...

Sweet potato tempura. Or even better, sushi with sweet potato tempura as the filling bit (I am not a sushi snob, I have no idea what it's called).

I was saying last night as I ate it that sweet potato tempura is a candidate for part of my last meal!

You know, when I get to death row.

Imperatrix said...

Yesterday, Impera made sweet potato chili. Mmm mmm good. (I can't stand the traditional brown sugar/marshmalow sweet potato stuff. Blech.)

S said...

Yum. I am a fan of sweet potato fries, I must say.

shrink on the couch said...

There's something oh-so-satisfying when you turn family members into healthy-veggie converts.

I haven't met too many sweet potato recipes I like. Definately do NOT like the overly sweetened varieties. With marshmallows? Ugh, forget it. Makes me want to turn away from the T'giving table!

I like the peeled and sliced versions baked in the oven, french fry style. Your dish, mixed with onions and peppers, sounds very good.

meno said...

That sounds delicious. First i must learn to make polenta.

mayberry said...

yu-um. But then again, I like sweet potatoes (except for the dessert-y versions).

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

I'm not a fan of overly sweet sweet potatoes, but I do like them as fries tossed in a mixture of orange juice, butter and nutmeg and then baked.

They sound great the way you did them.

coldspaghetti said...

Yay! Sounds fantastic!

Libby said...

mmm. Everything's better with bacon!

nonlineargirl said...

Had I seen your tweet I would have told you to make sweet potato/squash lasagna. I can send you the recipe if you'd like (cooked and pureed sp & squash, mixed with parm and sage).

painted maypole said...

i'm glad you liked it.

no one in my household likes them as much as I do, or we'd eat them a lot around here.

RuthWells said...

I'm so glad you thought of garlic -- was surprised none of the suggestions from others included it! A little roasted garlic can make almost anything palatable. Hey, if it works for snails...

Kyla said...

I've never eaten sweet potatoes, except as fries. I eat quite like a child, honestly.

The Library Lady said...

I don't really make them overly sweet. The pinch of brown sugar I add when mashing a sweet potato is just enough to bring out the sweetness they SHOULD have.

Marshmallows--yuck--I've always thought of that as going with that damned "green bean casserole" with the canned onions. "White People" food at its ickiest.

I roasted rutabaga, homegrown potatoes, small onions,peeled garlic cloves and a sprig of homegrown rosemary w/olive oil for dinner Sunday. JR had actually ASKED for the potatoes,and tried and liked the rutagbaga! I'll have to add sweet potato next time.

The Library Lady said...

Almost forgot--from NPR "Missy G's Sweet Potato Pound Cake".
Next on my list of cakes to try:

Mama Coyote said...

The best and simplest way I know to enjoy sweet potatoes is the way my mom and I have eaten them out of her garden for years--baked, like a normal potato, with plenty of butter and salt.

Just butter and salt. It's amazing.

Corvi said...

Sweet Potato Crack: Slice sweet potatoes into 1-inch tall rounds.
Mix in a bowl with freshly minced garlic (the more the better frankly), olive oil, kosher salt (to taste) and thyme. Put into baking pan and bake at 400 degrees for 35-40 minutes, or until tender.

You may peel the potatoes or not, as you like. When the over is busy (like holidays) I will cook them in the microwave for 9 minutes, then finish them in the oven for another 10.

Everyone I've ever made this for liked it, and most ask me for the recipe. I hope you try it!

Carol said...

My guests always rave over my sweet potato casserole.

It's boiled and mashed sweet potatoes with eggs, sugar, salt, vanilla, and cinnamon mixed together and topped with pecans and brown sugar, and more cinnamon and all spice.

I serve it with turkey dinner every year.

Unknown said...

I detest sweet potatoes... but am intrigued by this.