Sweet potatoes are a versatile, healthy staple in many Southern regional cuisines. Growing up in central Appalachia, I remember eating sweet potatoes baked, casseroled, fried—just about any which way they could be prepared. Now I love that gooey marshmallow situation that everybody’s Aunt Becky makes for Thanksgiving just as much as the next girl, but I also like to let the rich flavor of the sweet potato speak for itself. Below, I give you three preparations on sweet potatoes—from my family to yours.
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Roasted Sweet Potato Truffles
2 medium sweet potatoes (about 1 pound)
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 ½ tablespoons honey
¼ teaspoon olive oil
1 gram cracker
½ cup pecans, finely chopped
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Roast the sweet potatoes until tender—about 45-55 minutes. Remove the potatoes from the oven and allow them to thoroughly cool. Peel the potatoes, collecting all off the flesh in a medium mixing bowl.
Add cinnamon, allspice, cloves, honey, and olive oil to the potatoes. Mash well, incorporating the spices and liquids until you form a thick paste. Rubbing the graham cracker bits between your thumb and forefinger, break the cracker into fine, sand-like crumbs. Incorporate the crumbs into the sweet potato paste.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the chopped pecans in a shallow bowl. Using a small cookie scoop or two teaspoons, drop small balls of the sweet potato mixture into the bowl of pecans. Roll each ball in the nuts until it is evenly coated. Place each ball on the baking sheet.
Reheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Bake the truffles for 15 minutes, until the pecan coating is golden brown. Serve at room temperature ungarnished or drizzled lightly with honey.
(Yields: 6-8 truffles; Ready In: 80 minutes)
Spicy Baked Sweet Potatoes
2 large sweet potatoes
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoon coriander
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Cut sweet potatoes into 1-inch cubes. In a large bowl with a lid, toss the potatoes with the oil, coating evenly. Add the remaining ingredients and toss again to coat.
Transfer the seasoned potatoes to a greased 11x7-inch banking dish. Bake (uncovered) for 35-40 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Stir every 15 minutes or so to ensure that potatoes are evenly cooked.
(Yields: 8 servings; Ready In: 60 minutes)
Sweet Potato Peach Casserole
½ cup brown sugar, packed
½ cup cashews, chopped
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ginger, grated
2 lbs sweet potatoes
14 ounce can peach slices, well drained
3 tablespoons butter (I use Earth Balance margarine to make this dish vegan)
Add the potatoes to a large pot of boiling water. Cook for 15-20 minutes (perhaps more depending upon the size of your potatoes), until a fork may be easily inserted into the center of each potato. Drain water and turn off the burner, but return the potatoes to the pot and place them on the warm burner and allow the heat to slightly dry out the potatoes for about 1-2 minutes. Remove the potatoes from the heat and set aside to allow them to fully cool.
When potatoes are cool enough to handle, peal and cut into long strips ¼ to ½ inch thick.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a bowl, combine brown sugar, cashews, salt, and ginger. In a 10x6x2 baking dish, layer half of the sweet potato strips, all of the peach slices, and half the brown sugar mix. Top with another layer of sweet potato strips and finally the remaining half of the brown sugar mixture. Place small “dots” of butter evenly across the top of the casserole.
Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake 10 minutes more.
(Yields: 6-8 servings; Ready In: 90 minutes)