Despite our reliance on the generic term "sweet potato," a trip to any farmers market makes it clear that not all sweet potatoes are created equal. The most widely available, luscious, bright orange-fleshed vegetable that we think of as "The Sweet Potato" is typically the Beauregard variety, indeed a treat to consume. But to stop there would be to miss some excellent eating.
A few decades ago, I began seeing Garnet yams (actually sweet potatoes mislabeled yams by marketers) in health food stores and became addicted to their intense, pumpkin-like flesh, particularly tasty when baked. When visiting Latin groceries, I picked up the gnarly, large boniatos. Their pale, yellowish, flesh has a flavor that suggests chestnuts—absolutely delicious when peeled, chunked, and steamed.
Sweet potatoes aren't as good keepers as white potatoes. Store them in a cool, airy spot and try to use them within a week or so. If one of your sweet potatoes starts to sprout, pot it lengthwise in good soil, submerged about halfway, and you'll have a lovely houseplant within a month.
I rarely end up with a sprouting specimen since I usually bake extras on purpose. I refrigerate them, then reheat one in the microwave when I'm needing a filling, healthy, and satisfying snack.
Sweet Potato Wedges with RosemaryHere is an interesting take on baked sweet potato "fries." Coat the wedges with a little soy sauce, which gives the potatoes nice color, and chili powder, which provides a little kick. A little fresh rosemary sprinkled on after baking offers a vibrant finish.
Serve the wedges hot, straight from the oven. In addition to being an interesting side dish, they make an unusual cocktail nibble.
Serves 6 to 8
Set two racks in middle section of oven. Line two lipped baking sheets or large, shallow roasting pans with foil. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Halve potatoes crosswise (no need to peel). Cut each piece in half lengthwise. Then cut each piece into wedges about 1/2-inch thick. Spread out on baking sheets.
In a small bowl, blend oil, chili powder, and soy sauce. Dribble half of oil mixture over each batch of sweet potatoes and toss to coat. Arrange wedges in one layer with a little space between them. Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper.
Roast for 12 minutes. Turn slices over. Reverse shelves for baking sheets. Continue roasting until potatoes are tender, 8 to 12 minutes more. Sprinkle with additional salt, if needed.
To serve: Transfer potatoes to a platter and toss in rosemary. Serve hot.
Recipe copyright, Lorna Sass, 2008