Versatile Potatoes of the Sweet Variety
Most of us begin thinking about sweet potatoes around Thanksgiving and stop buying them soon afterwards. But this nutritious vegetable is quite versatile and makes a great puree, soup or soufflé; “croutons” made with it are wonderful in salads, providing a lovely contrast to savory lettuces, salty cheeses and pungent dressings. When baked ahead of time and kept in the refrigerator, sweet potatoes become sweeter by the day and make a great lunch, hot or cold, and a great snack for children.
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Of the deep orange sweet potatoes, my favorites are garnets, which have dark red skin with orange flesh, and jewels, with orange skin with deep orange flesh. Both of these types have moist, sweet flesh that oozes syrup as they bake. Yet sweet as they are, sweet potatoes are a relatively low-calorie food, with approximately 105 calories in a 3 1/2 ounce serving. They’re high in fiber and an excellent source of vitamin A in the form of beta-carotene. They’re also high in vitamin C and manganese, and a good source of copper, vitamin B6, potassium, and iron.
Baked Sweet Potatoes
These make a great lunch or snack. Bake some up and cut thick slices to go with cottage cheese, goat cheese, or feta for a quick lunch. Don’t try to save time and use a microwave for this recipe: the sweet potatoes won’t be nearly as sweet. They need time in the hot oven for their enzymes to convert starch into maltose, which is the sugar that makes sweet potatoes sweet.
4 medium sweet potatoes
1. Preheat the oven to 425ºF. Scrub sweet potatoes and pierce in several places with a sharp knife. Line a baking sheet with foil and place the potatoes on top. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour, depending on the size of the potatoes, until thoroughly soft and beginning to ooze. Remove from the heat.
2. Place on a plate or in a dish and allow to cool. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate (they will continue to ooze and sweeten). Serve cold (cut in thick slices and remove the skin) or room temperature, or reheat for 20 to 30 minutes in a 325ºF oven, or in the microwave.
Variation: Baked Sweet Potatoes with Lime
Make the recipe through Step 1. Transfer to a baking dish that will hold the potatoes snugly. Allow to cool completely (they will continue to ooze and sweeten). Slit the potatoes lengthwise and douse with the juice of 1 to 2 limes, to taste. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Serve at room temperature or reheat for 20 to 30 minutes in a 325ºF oven or in the microwave.
Yield: Serves 4Advance preparation: Baked sweet potatoes will hold in the refrigerator for about 5 days.