Food & Drink

5 ways to get more sweet potato in your life

There’s a lot more you can do with a sweet potato than top it with marshmallow.
There’s a lot more you can do with a sweet potato than top it with marshmallow. jsimmons@charlotteobserver.com

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 vegetable 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.

Kale Salad With Sweet Potatoes and Apple

Start with 2 sweet potatoes, about 2 pounds’ worth, cut into 3/4-inch pieces. Heat an oven to 400 degrees and toss the sweet potatoes with some olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place on a baking sheet (you may need to use more than one). Roast about 20 minutes until tender and easy to pierce with a fork. Cool. 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, 1/4 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

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 1/2 cup dry creamy wheat (like Cream of Wheat), 1 cup all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 1 tablespoon baking powder, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg and 1/2 teaspoon salt. In a separate bowl, add 1 1/2 cups mashed sweet potato (roast a couple of peeled potatoes in the oven until tender, then mash with a fork) to 2 large eggs, 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt, 3/4 cup milk and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Whisk well, until the mixture is rather thick but smooth. Fold into the cornmeal mixture, and mix just slightly until incorporated. Remove skillet from the oven (carefully!), then pour in the batter and bake 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.

Baked Sweet Potato Tots

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cook 3 or 4 peeled sweet potatoes until they are tender – roast, steam or boil them – then place in a bowl and mash thoroughly. (You need about 3 cups mashed potato.) Add 1 cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper to taste to the bowl, and mix again. Use your hands to form 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 and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, turning a couple of times to brown slightly on all sides. Adapted from realfoodrn.com.

Buffalo Chicken-Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

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 shred the chicken when it’s cool enough to handle. Empty that same pot, then return it to medium heat and add 2/3 cup Frank’s Red Hot Original Sauce, 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, 1 1/2 tablespoons white vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce, 1/2 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. Crumble blue cheese on top. Adapted from notenoughcinnamon.com.

Sweet Potato Soup With Apple and Cheese

Heat a large pot over medium heat and add 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus 1 chopped onion, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cook 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, 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 topped with blue cheese and some crumbled walnuts. Recipe adapted from Real Simple.

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