A perfect potato for any meal

Sweet pota­toes are high in di­et­ary fiber, vit­am­ins A, C and B-6.

Sweet pota­toes can be in­cor­por­ated in­to every meal from sweet potato bis­cuits for break­fast to a side of sweet potato fries at lunch, a roas­ted potato for din­ner or smooth cus­tard for dessert. 

   Sweet pota­toes are high in di­et­ary fiber, vit­am­ins A, C and B-6, and serve as a great lower-carb al­tern­at­ive to reg­u­lar pota­toes. 

   Some people refer to sweet pota­toes as “yams.” This is ac­tu­ally a mis­nomer, as a yam is an en­tirely dif­fer­ent ve­get­able. A yam is a tuber grown in Africa that can grow to be as long as 7 feet in length and weigh as much as a 150 pounds. When Afric­an cap­tives came to Amer­ica, they were used to eat­ing yams as a ma­jor staple of their diet. When they didn’t find any here, but in­stead found sweet pota­toes, a close re­l­at­ive, some Afric­ans began call­ing sweet pota­toes “nya­mis,” the Fu­lani word for yam.

   As the sweet potato be­came more pop­u­lar in Amer­ica, grow­ers star­ted la­beling them “Yams,” which we now know is in­cor­rect. The U.S. De­part­ment of Ag­ri­cul­ture now re­quires the word “yam” be fol­lowed by the words “sweet potato” when la­beling a sweet potato product. Smal­ler yams look sim­il­ar to, but are not as sweet, as the sweet pota­toes we are fa­mil­i­ar with in North Amer­ica. Afric­an yams have a tough­er con­sist­ency, a starchi­er tex­ture and an oil­ier feel on the tongue.

   Some spe­cialty mar­kets carry yams im­por­ted from Asia or Africa. China is the world’s largest pro­du­cer of sweet pota­toes, along with In­dia and the United States. Sweet pota­toes can be stored un­re­fri­ger­ated for up to three months.

   This re­cipe for Two Potato Sage and But­ter Cas­ser­ole de­li­ciously com­bines sweet pota­toes with creamy Yukon gold pota­toes to cre­ate the per­fect make-ahead side dish for any day! 

Two Potato Sage and But­ter Cas­ser­ole

2 pounds sweet pota­toes, peeled and cut in­to 1-inch pieces

1 pound Yukon gold pota­toes, peeled and cut in­to 1-inch pieces

2 tea­spoons salt

4 ounces (1 stick) un­salted but­ter, plus 1 ounce (2 ta­ble­spoons), melted

2-1/2 ta­ble­spoons chopped fresh sage or 1-1/2 ta­ble­spoons dried sage

1 tea­spoon black pep­per

1/2 tea­spoon gar­lic powder

1/2 tea­spoon onion powder

1 tea­spoon honey or brown sug­ar

1 tea­spoon fresh lem­on juice

1/4 tea­spoon ground nut­meg

1/4 tea­spoon cay­enne pep­per

1-1/2 cups milk 

1 cup fresh bread­crumbs (from 3 slices white bread, crusts re­moved) or 1 cup Panko bread­crumbs (plain, whole wheat or Itali­an flavored)

1/2 cup shred­ded Parmes­an cheese

1. Place sweet pota­toes and pota­toes in a large sauce­pan; cov­er with wa­ter, and sea­son with 1 tea­spoon of the salt. Bring to a boil; re­duce heat, and sim­mer un­til pota­toes are tender, about 9 minutes. Drain and mash un­til fairly smooth. 

2. Pre­heat oven to 375 F. Melt 1 stick but­ter in a small sauce­pan over me­di­um heat, swirl­ing oc­ca­sion­ally, un­til golden brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Re­move from heat; and stir in the 1 ta­ble­spoon of the sage, the re­main­ing tea­spoon of the salt, the pep­per, gar­lic powder, onion powder, honey or brown sug­ar, lem­on juice, nut­meg and the cay­enne pep­per. Stir but­ter mix­ture and milk in­to pota­toes and stir un­til well-com­bined. Trans­fer potato mix­ture in­to a 2-quart cas­ser­ole dish. (Mix­ture can be re­fri­ger­ated for up to 2 days.)

3. Com­bine bread­crumbs with 2 ta­ble­spoons melted but­ter, Parmes­an and the re­main­ing fresh or dried sage. Sea­son with salt and pep­per. Toss to com­bine. 

4. Top potato mix­ture with bread­crumbs. Bake, un­covered, un­til bub­bling around edges and bread­crumbs are golden brown, 30 to 40 minutes. (If brown­ing too quickly, tent with foil.) Let stand, un­covered, for 10 minutes.  ••

   An­gela Shelf Medear­is is a culin­ary his­tor­i­an and au­thor of sev­en cook­books. Her new cook­book is “The Kit­chen Diva’s Dia­bet­ic Cook­book.” Her Web site is www.di­vapro.com

   To see how-to videos, re­cipes and much more, Like An­gela Shelf Medear­is, The Kit­chen Diva! on Face­book and go to Hulu.com

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