Sweet potatoes have the rare ability to walk the line between sweet and savory dishes. (Surprise: They're not just for Thanksgiving.) Their chameleon-like abilities make practical sense: There are 16 different types, each with its own level of sweetness, degree of starchiness, and unique personality. There's no limit on how to use sweet potatoes, whether you want to enliven an otherwise bitter winter salad or add color and flavor to fresh pasta dough or homemade pie. They work great as a carrot or white potato alternative in braises and stews to sop up the flavor of the broth while lending the dish a hearty boost in texture. Or even as a savory sweet potato casserole (with a touch of marshmallow, of course) or a sweet potato souffle.
But sometimes, the best way to cook a sweet potato is on its own, from the perfect baked sweet potato recipe (roast them whole or in cubes) to crispy sweet potato fries. You can top the slow-roasted tubers with creamy labneh, sour cream, or butter, or mash them with a touch of cream or coconut milk to your heart’s content.
Try them in these diverse preparations until you find your favorites.
“This is a nod to tahini dip, done in a way where you also get sweet and sour flavors from fresh and fermented vegetables,” Burns says. “The sesame helps emulsify, and lemon juice, garlic, and spices lend a little acid and heat.” If you have another fermented vegetable on hand, you can substitute all fresh squash and use the lacto-brine from that vegetable in place of or in addition to the lemon juice. Get the recipe for Fermented Squash and Sesame Dip »
Like a lot of chefs, Jared Bennett of Metropole in Cincinnati is into charring vegetables to amplify their natural sweetness inside, and lend them a pleasantly bitter crust. The secret, he says, is precooking many of the vegetables and then just searing them in a smoking-hot cast-iron pan, so they don’t go to mush before getting a char. One of his signatures: this sweet potato side dish with pomegranate, lemon juice, pistachio, and ricotta salata. Get the recipe for Charred Sweet Potatoes with Pickled Shallots, Pistachios, and Ricotta Salata »