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Twice baked sweet potatoes with maple syrup, butter and spices. These sweet potatoes are definitely worth the extra effort.
AP photo by Larry Crowe
Twice baked sweet potatoes with maple syrup, butter and spices. These sweet potatoes are definitely worth the extra effort.

SWEET.
Serve sweet potatoes in new ways: Salad, soup, roasted and twice-baked

By Patrice Stewart
pstewart@decaturdaily.com · 340-2446

It’s time to think outside the casserole dish.

Sweet potatoes are good for you, but many people eat sweet potatoes only in holiday casseroles.

Casseroles are tasty, but you might consider roasting sweet potatoes, red and yellow peppers and other vegetables with herbs, or making sweet potato soup or twice-baked sweet potatoes.

Sweet potatoes can make good salad courses, too.

Combine apples and sweet potatoes with walnuts, blue cheese, celery and grapes for a Waldorf Sweet Potato Salad. A Tuscan version includes tomatoes, mozzarella and basil. Pour a hot bacon dressing over a salad made with sweet potatoes, red cabbage and chicken.

Try some of these recipes:

Herb Roasted Vegetables

3 medium sweet potatoes, washed (about 2 pounds)
1 red pepper
1 yellow pepper
1 red onion
1/2 pound asparagus
8 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped (or 3 teaspoons dried and crushed)
2 tablespoon fresh thyme (or 2 teaspoons dried leaves)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt

Cut sweet potatoes in half lengthwise and then into 1/2-inch slices. Cut peppers and onions into 1-x2-inch wedges. Cut asparagus into 1-inch lengths. Put all of the vegetables in a large bowl. Add garlic, rosemary, thyme and olive oil, and stir to distribute seasonings. Spread vegetables evenly on a cookie sheet and sprinkle with salt. Bake in 500-degree oven for 18-20 minutes. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Waldorf Sweet Potato Salad

Salad:

1/3 cup walnuts
3 cups raw sweet potato, peeled and grated
1 medium red apple, unpeeled, cored and coarsely chopped
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup red seedless grapes, cut in half
1/3 cup crumbled blue cheese (optional)
Red leaf lettuce leaves (for serving, optional)

Dressing:

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 tablespoons apple juice
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt

Toast walnuts in an oven or toaster oven at 350 degrees until golden, about 10 minutes. Cool. Place all salad ingredients in a bowl.

To make dressing, whisk all ingredients to blend. Pour over salad and toss well. If desired, serve on red leaf lettuce leaves. Makes 8 servings.

Glazed Sweet Potato-Cabbage Salad with Hot Bacon Dressing

1 medium sweet potato
Salt and pepper
1 small head red cabbage
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
8 slices bacon
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 cup olive oil
1 pound roasted chicken breast
1/2 cup toasted pecans
Hot Bacon Dressing (recipe follows)
4 ounces blue cheese
1 tablespoon chopped parsley

Sprinkle sweet potato with salt and pepper; wrap in foil. Roast in center of oven at 375 degrees for 45 minutes or until tender. Cool. Cut cabbage in half through the root end; remove core. Thinly slice cabbage crosswise and place in bowl; toss with vinegar and garlic and then season with salt and pepper. Cook bacon until crisp. Cut into 1-inch pieces; keep warm. Slice cooled sweet potato into rounds; sauté with butter and honey until glazed and set aside.

Heat oil in large pan; add cabbage. Toss for 30 seconds. Add shredded chicken, bacon pieces, sweet potato and pecans; toss for 1 minute. Add 1/4 cup Hot Bacon Dressing and toss. Serve immediately on warm plates. Sprinkle each salad with blue cheese and parsley.

Hot Bacon Dressing: Cook 1 slice bacon in skillet until crisp; remove and set aside. To skillet, add 2 tablespoons diced celery and 2 tablespoons minced onion. Cook for two minutes on medium heat until tender. Add 3 tablespoons each red wine vinegar and apple cider vinegar, firmly packed brown sugar and 1 teaspoon whole-grain mustard. Salt and pepper to taste. Simmer 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Slowly stir in 1 cup olive oil, blending to make an emulsion. Crumble bacon and add to dressing. Makes 6 servings.

Tuscan Sweet Potato Salad

2 pounds sweet potatoes, cooked and sliced
4 ripe plum tomatoes, sliced
2 cups assorted pepper strips
4 ounces mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/4 cup fresh basil, cut in julienne strips
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons wine or balsamic vinegar
1 large clove garlic, minced
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large bowl, combine sweet potatoes, tomatoes, peppers and cheese; add basil. In a bowl or measuring cup, whisk together oil, vinegar and garlic. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour dressing over salad and toss to blend. Cover and let stand up to 1 hour to blend flavors. Makes 6 servings.

Sweet Potato and Peanut Soup

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium onion, minced
1 teaspoon light brown sugar
Salt
3 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 1 tablespoon)
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 cups water
2 pounds sweet potatoes (about 3 medium), peeled, quartered
lengthwise, and thinly sliced
3 tablespoons peanut butter
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro leaves

In a large Dutch oven, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the onion, brown sugar and 1 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is softened, 5 to 7 minutes.

Stir in the garlic, coriander and cayenne and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Add the broth, water, sweet potatoes and peanut butter. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and cook, partially covered, until the sweet potatoes are easily pierced with a knife, 25 to 30 minutes.

Working in batches, use a blender or food processor to puree the soup until smooth, then return it to a clean saucepan. (At this point, the soup can be refrigerated up to 2 days. Reheat over medium-low heat.)

Season with salt and pepper to taste, stir in the cilantro and serve. This West African recipe (from “The Best International Recipe,” America’s Test Kitchen, 2007, $35) makes 4 to 6 servings.

Twice-baked and more

Still want a baked sweet potato? Try these ideas for twice-baked and other ways of preparing them:

  • For elaborate sweet potatoes, roast them whole, then scoop out the insides keeping the skins intact. Puree the potato with maple syrup, butter and spices, such as cinnamon, nutmeg and ground clove, then pipe the mixture back into the skins using a pastry bag with a decorative tip. Bake them again until they get brown on top.

  • For scalloped sweet potatoes, slice peeled sweet potatoes into rounds. Blanche for a few minutes to barely soften, then place in a buttered dish and cover with heavy cream. Bake them until the cream is evaporated. About halfway through, add a streusel topping of flour, sugar, butter and toasted pecans.

  • For spicy whole sweet potatoes, roast until tender, split with a knife, score the flesh and top with a mixture of melted butter, grated fresh ginger, orange zest, a squeeze of orange juice and brown sugar. Broil until the tops are caramelized.

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