We eat sweet potatoes at my house all year long, but there’s something about the fall that makes us crave them even more.
In recent weeks we’ve had sweet potato fries, sweet potato casserole with a yummy topping and sweet potato biscuits.
Maybe it’s the power of suggestion that has made me want them more. In my travels around the county, I’ve seen many trucks packed high with sweet potatoes this fall.
More sweet potatoes are produced in North Carolina than in any other state; Johnston, Nash and Wilson counties lead the state in production.
If you’re not already incorporating sweet potatoes into your meals, you should start. I even add them to my vegetable soup as well as beef roast.
Sweet potatoes are a good source of fiber as well as vitamins A, C and E. They are also rich in beta-carotene.
Have you ever ordered a baked sweet potato at a steak restaurant? They’re usually served with butter and cinnamon sugar. You can make those at home so simply. Either bake the potato in the oven, just as you would for a russet potato, or buy the pre-wrapped potatoes and cook them in the microwave.
Twice this past week, I cooked my sweet potatoes in the slow cooker. I washed them, leaving them slightly wet, and put them in the crock. The first time I cooked them on low for about 4 hours. The next time, I cooked them on high in less than 2 hours. (Just check the progress after an hour and judge the time needed; cooking time varies with the size of the potato and how many your are cooking.) The orange flesh from the potato was perfectly cooked in the slow cooker and ready for my recipes. The potatoes would have been equally good with a pat of butter or just plain, as we used to eat them when I was growing up.
Although I have my own favorite sweet potato recipes, I wanted to ask the sweet potato “experts” for some new recipes.
My sweet potato-farming friends Alice Scott with Scott Farms and Charlotte Vick with Vick Family Farms sent in several favorite sweet potato recipes, some they make and others given to them by friends.
At lunchtime Tuesday, I made Alice’s quick potato wedges. I didn’t place the potato pieces in a bag; instead, I put the potatoes in a baking pan, drizzled olive oil on top and tossed them with my hands to cover. The recipe was so quick, and the potatoes were delicious. I topped half of them with cinnamon sugar and the other half with salt. I liked them both ways!
I’m also including a sweet potato biscuit recipe I featured in my column several years ago. I made the biscuits Saturday night. I slice the leftovers and toast them. They are almost better as leftovers!
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Sweet Potato Au Gratin
7 medium sweet potatoes
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon chopped thyme
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 cup shredded Gruyere cheese
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
Boil the sweet potatoes in a large pot in water to cover for 5 minutes. Drain, cool, peel and dice into 1-inch pieces. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a baking dish with nonstick vegetable spray. Place the sweet potatoes in the dish and season with salt, pepper and thyme. Mix the cream and cornstarch together and pour over the sweet potatoes. Bake for 30 minutes. Sprinkle with cheeses. Bake for 15 minutes. Brown under the broiler for about 3 minutes.
Sweet Potatoes with Blue Cheese and Pecans
2 pounds sweet potatoes peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1 cup pecans
1 cup blue cheese, crumbled
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Toss and coat sweet potatoes with olive oil. Sprinkle with thyme. Place in oven on shallow-rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 45 minutes.
Meanwhile, toast pecans in dry skillet over medium heat until lightly browned. Set aside.
Before serving, toss with blue cheese crumbles and top with pecans. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Baked Sweet Potato Wedges
3 sweet potatoes
1 tablespoon cooking oil
Peel the raw sweet potato and cut into wedges. Pour cooking oil into a zippered storage bag and add wedges. Shake until wedges are coated with oil. Place on a cookie sheet and bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. After removing from the oven, sprinkle with sugar, salt, cinnamon or other spices.
Sweet Potato Souffle
3 cups cooked sweet potatoes
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup milk
1/2 stick margarine or butter, softened
1 tablespoon vanilla flavoring
Dash of salt
1/2 stick margarine or butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup Rice Krispies
1⁄2 to 1 cup chopped nuts
Combine potatoes, brown sugar, milk, 1/2 stick butter, flavoring, eggs and salt. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes.
For the topping, combine melted butter, brown sugar, cereal and nuts. Add as a topping and bake for an addition 10 to 15 minutes.
Sweet Potato Biscuits
2 cups self-rising flour
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
2 tablespoons shortening
1 cup cooked, mashed sweet potatoes
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup buttermilk
Sift together flour and nutmeg. Cut in shortening until mixture is crumbly. Mix sweet potato, sugar and buttermilk. Add to dry ingredients until flour is moistened. This will make a sticky dough.
Turn out on a floured board and knead about 30 seconds.
Roll out to 1/2-inch thickness. Cut with floured biscuit cutter. Bake on ungreased baking sheet in hot oven, 450 degrees, about 13 minutes.
Makes 12 biscuits.
Alice C. Beddingfield
Home Demonstration Club cookbook