Sweet potatoes are members of the morning glory family. Often confused with the yam, which is actually a tropical root native to Africa, sweet potatoes are native to South America. Sweet potatoes need a long, hot growing season and are usually available in the fall and early winter months.
Preparation: Scrub well before cooking. For most purposes you can leave the skin on. Some dishes may require peeling, just like other potatoes. While you are preparing your other ingredients, keep peeled and sliced sweet potatoes in a bowl of water to prevent them from drying out if you are not using them right away. ♦ You can soak the potatoes in water until they are very tender and then peel and mash them.♦ Do not substitute sweet potatoes for white potatoes in a recipe. They can compliment each other but they are not interchangeable because they have different starch contents. ♦ The best way to prepare sweet potatoes is to bake them in their skins. They can also be cut into chunks or slices and mixed with other root vegetables (such as carrots, turnips, beets) and roasted in the oven. Try tossing them with a bit of olive oil, chopped garlic, salt and pepper and roasting in a 350 F oven for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure they don’t stick to the pan. ♦ Good partners for sweet potatoes include butter, cinnamon, orange, ginger, brown sugar, maple syrup, pecans, and walnuts. Or simply serve them with butter, salt and pepper!