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
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