Just because the holidays are over doesn’t mean sweet potato season is too. This root veggie can be much more than just a vehicle for marshmallows.
WHAT: Sweet potato varieties can range in color from white to pink to purple, but two types are the most prominent: The light sweet potato has pale-yellow skin and flesh, and is not sweet at all. When cooked, it has a crumbly texture, similar to that of a white baking potato. The second,better-known, type of sweet potato is the orange-fleshed variety generally labeled “yam” at the supermarket.
SWEET POTATO VS. YAM: In the United States, the term “yam” is used to label orange-fleshed sweet potatoes, but this is technically incorrect. Yams–thick, white tubers with little flavor and shaggy, rough skin–are rarely available in the United States, though they are popular in South and Central America, the West Indies, many Pacific islands, and parts of Asia and Africa. You are unlikely to find a true yam at your average supermarket, so if you are shopping for sweet potatoes, you should be safe putting a “yam” in your cart. When our recipes call for yams as substitutes, we are referring to red-skinned, orange-fleshed sweet potatoes that have been labeled as yams–not the white-fleshed,bland tuber. See a picture of a true yam.
HOW TO BUY AND STORE: Sweet potatoes are available year-round and are at their peak during the winter. Choose small to medium sweet potatoes that are heavy for their size. Avoid any with bruises or signs of sprouting. Keep sweet potatoes in a cool, dark place for up to a week. Do not refrigerate (chilling can cause sweet potatoes to develop a permanently hard center).
3 QUICK IDEAS TO TRY
Senior Editor Sarah Tenaglia offers us a few tips for gussying up a sweet potato.
STUFFED WITH CHILI / Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly pierce sweet potatoes all over with fork. Set potatoes directly on oven rack; bake until tender when pierced with skewer, about 1 hour. Split potato and fill with vegetarian black bean chili. Top with crumbled feta.
SIMPLY ROASTED / Position rack in center of oven; preheat to 425 degrees F. Toss some sweet potato wedges in olive oil, salt, pepper and rosemary and roast with chicken in oven until cooked through.
PUREED / Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Pierce all sweet potatoes in several places with fork. Bake until tender when pierced with knife, about 55 minutes. Cool slightly. Scoop out flesh and puree with butter, thyme, nutmeg, and lime juice. Add milk and reblend.
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