To me, the magical thing about autumn is that right as the temperature drops and the sky turns uninviting and gray, fall's bountiful crops rush in with their soothingly hearty textures and rich flavors to warm us up. Take the sweet potato: A warm blast in the oven renders this root veggie supple and sweet—the perfect comfort food to spoon up after coming in from the bracing cold.
I ate sweet potatoes in one of two ways as a kid: mashed or casseroled (in other words, mashed and then capped with toasted marshmallows). College brought a few innovations: crisp and addictive sweet potatoes fries, sweet potato pancakes topped with cinnamon, and cubed sweet potato softened in brothy soups. And in more recent years, I have actively sought recipes to expand the repertoire—I'm particularly partial to the simple but elegant dish of oven-baked sweet potatoes topped with butter, brown sugar and freshly ground black pepper. I have also begun to learn my way around different varieties, discovering the subtle differences between milder, purple-skinned varieties and the creamy-fleshed standard Beauregard. Whatever varieties you like, and however you prepare them, now is the time to take full advantage of the sweet potato's full range.
Pureed Sweet Potato Soup
Sweet potatoes and carrots are combined for a creamy pureed soup.
Sweet Potato Fries
Swap out regular potatoes for sweets in this addictive deep-fried recipe.
Shrimp and Sweet Potato Fritters
These Vietnamese fritters combine sweet potato, shrimp, turmeric and lime paste.
Soft Boiled Eggs with Bacon-Infused Sweet Potatoes and Parsley Coulis
This upscale take on the humble sweet potato comes from the kitchen of chef Bruce Sherman in Chicago.
Baked Sweet Potatoes with Brown Sugar and Black Pepper
What could be simpler or more satisfying than a baked sweet potato topped with fiery pepper and caramel-scented brown sugar?
Tzimmes (Root Vegetable Stew)
Enriched with beef and sweetened with honey and prunes, sweet potato stew tastes like autumn in a bowl.
Hearty Sausage and Sweet Potato Soup
A simple, savory and delicious soup combines chorizo with white beans, veggies, and sweet potato.
Martha Stewart: Red Lead Salad with Roasted Sweet Potato
Sweet potato adds sweetness and heft to a green salad.
Food 52: Sweet Potato Gratins
These cheesy sweet potato gratins come served in individual-sized baking dishes.
Sweet Potato Casserole
Topped with a cap of marshmallows and sweetened with orange juice and zest, this classic Thanksgiving casserole is delicious as a side dish or dessert.
Sweet Potato Cake
A show-stopping dessert with layers of marshmallowy merringue icing between two sheets of sweet potato cake and praline and candied pecans crowning the top.
Sweet Potatoes in Syrup with Guava
Sweet potatoes and guava get cooked together until they are sticky-sweet and falling apart.
Sweet Potato Tipsy
A bit of sherry adds delightful boozy flavor to creamy mashed sweet potatoes.
Sweet Potato Cobbler
Buttery cobbler dough tops spice-scented slices of softened sweet potato.
Candied Squash and Sweet Potatoes
Butternut squash and sweet potato combine for a syrupy-sweet Mexican dish.
Sweet Potato Casserole with Bourbon and Pineapple
A variation of traditional sweet potato casserole, this rich and creamy side gets its depth of flavor from the unique combination of spicy bourbon and sweet-tart pineapple.
Sweet Potato Pie
The classic southern pie combines sweet potato puree with sugar and autumnal spices.
Sweet Potato Bread Pudding
Custardy bread pudding gets enriched with soft-cooked sweet potato.
Epicurious: Sweet Potato Pancakes with Honey Cinnamon Butter
Swap the more common pumpkin for creamy sweet potato puree in these fluffy, cinnamon-honey butter topped pancakes.
Leah Koenig is a freelance writer and author of The Hadassah Everyday Cookbook: Daily Meals for the Contemporary Jewish Kitchen