Sweet potatoes are a versatile vegetable that, more so than regular ol' taters, can liven up all sorts of dishes. We're especially fond of the root veggie during fall months, when stews, soups and casseroles start to pop up in our kitchens. Sweet potatoes hold up well in all of those meals, but they can do so much more. Here are five ideas for using sweet potatoes. Save these for the coming months, especially if you're sick of the marshmallow-topped treatment these vegetables tend to get come November.
Michelle Stark, Times food editor
Kale Salad With Sweet Potatoes and Apple
Roasted sweet potatoes pair with crisp kale and apples in this seasonal salad. Start with 2 sweet potatoes, about 2 pounds' worth, cut into ¾-inch pieces. Heat an oven to 400 degrees and toss the sweet potatoes with some olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place them on a baking sheet, though you may need to use more than one. Roast for about 20 minutes until tender and easy to pierce with a fork. Let cool, then make the dressing for your salad. In a small bowl, whisk together 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard, 4 tablespoons olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Remove the thick stems from 2 bunches Tuscan or lacinato kale and chop or tear into bite-sized pieces. Place in a bowl, then add 1 thinly sliced Pink Lady or Honeycrisp apple, ¼ cup chopped roasted almonds and 4 ounces shaved pecorino or Parmesan cheese. Add sweet potatoes. Pour dressing on top, toss and serve immediately. Recipe from Real Simple.
Sweet Potato Corn Bread
Here's a sweet way to jazz up a standard holiday side: corn bread. The addition of sweet potatoes makes the bread denser and more moist. To begin, coat a 10-inch cast iron skillet with oil and set it in the oven, then preheat the oven to 425 degrees. In a large bowl, whisk together ½ cup dry creamy wheat (like Cream of Wheat), 1 cup all-purpose flour, ½ cup granulated sugar, 1 tablespoon baking powder, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg and ½ teaspoon salt. In a separate bowl, add 1 ½ cups mashed sweet potato (we simply roast a couple of peeled potatoes in the oven until tender, then mash with a fork) to 2 large eggs, ½ cup plain Greek yogurt, ¾ cup milk and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Whisk well, until the mixture is rather thick but smooth. Fold this mixture into the cornmeal mixture, and mix just slightly until incorporated. Remove skillet from the oven (carefully!), then pour the batter into it and bake for about 25 minutes, until the top is puffy and golden. Remove from oven, place about 4 pats of butter on top and let sit for a couple of minutes. Serve immediately. Recipe adapted from Chew Out Loud.
Baked Sweet Potato Tots
This recipe is for when you want to feel slightly less guilty about eating tater tots. These are made with sweet potatoes, and they're baked instead of fried. The twist is they actually taste good. To make, preheat an oven to 425 degrees. Cook 3 or 4 peeled sweet potatoes until they are tender — you can roast, steam or boil them — then place in a bowl and mash thoroughly. (You'll need about 3 cups mashed potato.) Add 1 cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper to taste to the bowl, and mix again. Now, use your hands to form the sweet potato into tot-sized balls. Place some more fresh Parmesan on a plate and roll tots in the cheese until lightly coated, then place onto a baking sheet. Spray with cooking spray or drizzle very lightly with olive oil (an olive oil mister comes in handy here), and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, turning a couple of times so the tots brown slightly on all sides. Recipe adapted from realfoodrn.com.
Buffalo Chicken Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
These stuffed sweet potatoes are hearty enough to be a meal unto themselves. Start with 7 medium sweet potatoes, skins on. Preheat an oven to 400 degrees and line a large baking sheet with foil. Place potatoes on foil and roast for about 30 minutes, or until tender, then turn the oven off but keep the potatoes in there. Meanwhile, place 2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast in a large pot, cover with water and cook on medium-high heat for about 30 minutes, or until cooked through. Remove from the water and place on a cutting board, then shred the chicken when it's cool enough to handle. Empty that same pot, then return it to medium heat and add ⅔ cup Frank's Red Hot Original Sauce, 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, 1 ½ tablespoons white vinegar, ½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce, ½ teaspoon garlic powder and 1 teaspoon cornstarch dissolved in 1 tablespoon water. Whisk until melted, then add 2 tablespoons butter and whisk until that melts. Turn off the heat, add the chicken and stir to coat. Remove sweet potatoes from oven, cut in half lengthwise and stuff them with the chicken. At this point, you could also add diced tomatoes or green onions to liven things up. Serve with blue cheese crumbles on top. Recipe adapted from notenoughcinnamon.com.
Sweet Potato Soup With Apple and Cheese
As with the first recipe, this one showcases the delightful pairing of sweet potatoes with apple. Note: This recipe also works just as well with a butternut squash instead of a sweet potato. To make, heat a large pot over medium heat and add 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus 1 chopped onion, ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Cook for about 6 minutes until tender, then add 2 pounds peeled and diced sweet potatoes, 3 chopped apples (such as Granny Smith or Pink Lady), 2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth and a pinch of nutmeg. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer, covered, for about 15 minutes. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup, or carefully transfer 1 cup at a time to a blender and blend. Once the soup is blended and back in the pot, cook for another minute. Serve into 4 bowls and top with 1 cup blue cheese and ⅓ cup walnuts divided evenly among the bowls. Sliced apples also make a nice garnish. Recipe adapted from Real Simple.