Sweet potatoes, the sweet-tasting tubers found on so many holiday menus, are fast becoming a New York staple as growers experiment with different varieties and growing techniques. While the root is the most commonly eaten part of the vegetable, the leaves and shoots also make for delicious cooking greens. One might expect that sweet potatoes and potatoes are closely related, but they are, in fact, only distant cousins – sweet potatoes are not classified as part of the nightshade family as potatoes are. While one will encounter the standard orange variety in grocery stores, when shopping at farmers markets, there are several varieties and colors to choose from. Whether they are white, orange or yellow, the common orange-fleshed varieties are still prized above all others for their supreme sweetness.
Recipes for sweet potatoes often pop up around the holidays, usually as baked casserole renditions with tons of brown sugar or honey, butter, nuts, rum, and, of course, tiny marshmallows. Sweet potatoes also make excellent pie – cooked and mashed, they can be substituted for the pumpkin in any pumpkin pie recipe. Although no holiday feast would be complete without them, sweet potatoes have applications and versatility that go past the month of December. From fries to pancakes to croquettes and beyond, there are hundreds of ways to prepare sweet potatoes. Here are a few of our favorites:
Sweet potatoes make great chips. Shave sweet potatoes paper thin on a mandolin, toss with a little salt and pepper plus a dash of olive oil, and bake overnight in a 200 degree oven until they are crispy and delicious.
Boil peeled russet potatoes and sweet potatoes together until they are tender. Drain, and whip them with cream and butter. Add salt, pepper and ground sage.
Hot or cold, there’s nothing more delicious than a bowl of creamy potato leek soup. Try substituting sweet potatoes for part, or all, of the potatoes in any Vichyssoise soup recipe.
Layer equal parts peeled, thinly sliced gold potatoes and sweet potatoes one inch deep in a casserole dish. Add enough heavy cream to come just below the top of the potatoes. Sprinkle a layer of salt, pepper, and gruyere cheese over the top. Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove foil and bake an additional 30-45 minutes, until the potatoes are golden brown and the cream is bubbly.
Consortium chef Renee Panetta's sweet and savory twist on the sweet potato salad recipe that she prepared at the Capital Roots' grand opening of their Urban Grow Center.