When I was growing up, sweet potatoes never ever appeared on the menu: they don’t belong to the classic trove of French vegetables, and I don’t think I had a taste until I moved to the US in my early twenties. But I quickly grew to love and crave them as if they had been a part of my food landscape all of my life: the sweet flesh and versatility of these tubers makes them a delicious alternative to other starch options, especially regular white potatoes, and I indulge on a regular basis.
It doesn’t hurt that orange sweet potatoes (there are also white, less recommended varieties) have been touted a superfood for their exceptional antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, due to their super high content of beta-carotene and vitamin A, among other vitamins and minerals. They are also said to have a stabilizing effect on blood sugar, despite a medium glycemic index.
On top of the wedges I sprinkle a lovely chopped condiment of black olives, toasted almonds, shallot, cilantro, and lemon zest, that brings a remarkable zing to the whole dish.
Steaming is the best way to retain the entirety of their nutritional qualities, but they do beautifully when you boil, roast or grill them as well. You can serve them mashed, turn them into fabulously creamy soups, add them cubed to grain dishes and meal-size salads to make them extra satisfying, or purée them for use in cakes as a sweetener.
They are included in the “clean fifteen” list* but I usually buy organic ones, making sure they are nice and firm with no bruises. They are increasingly easy to find in supermarkets, organic or not, and I have found that sweet potatoes from the US have a moister flesh and keep longer. I store them in a paper bag at cool room temperature (never in the fridge!) and when I cook them I leave the skin on, both for nutrition and to help the pieces keep their shape if that’s needed for a particular dish.
I am always surprised to see sweet potatoes often paired with sweet ingredients in North America (maple syrup! sweet spices! brown sugar! marshmallows!) as I much prefer to balance their natural sweetness with contrasting flavors: tangy, sour, acidic, savory, umami… And because their flesh becomes quite tender when cooked, I usually take care to add an element of crunch to the recipe I use them in.
One of my quickest and easiest tricks to serve sweet potatoes is to boil or roast them — either whole or in cubes — and top them with my simple tahini sauce and lots of freshly snipped herbs, or Aria Beth Sloss’s miso butter topping.
But in warmer months, when I have access to a barbecue — or just my trusty griddler — I like to cut the sweet potatoes into long wedges, par-steam them, brush them with a mix of oil and lemon juice, and grill them. I love the mix between lightly crisp outer skin and the creamy soft insides.
On top of the wedges I sprinkle a lovely — and very quick to throw together — chopped condiment of black olives, toasted almonds, shallot, cilantro, and lemon zest, that brings a remarkable zing to the whole dish. This I’m happy to feature as the centerpiece of the meal, along with a green salad, or to serve as a side with roast chicken, duck magret, or grilled pork.
Join the conversation!
Are you a sweet potato fan? What’s your favorite way to serve them?
* The clean fifteen is a list of the least contaminated conventional produce; the dirty dozen lists the most contaminated.
This post is sponsored by the American Sweet Potato Marketing Institute; visit their website for more information and recipes to use the delicious sweet potato! All words and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the organizations who support Chocolate & Zucchini.
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