Lumpy, bumpy, often covered with dirt, the lowly sweet potato
seems wretchedly unsophisticated in the glamorous world of leafy
greens. Humble and dense as they are, they\u2019re not as immediately
alluring as tender stalks of baby asparagus; lined up next to the
elegant endive, they're downright homely. But hailing from deep within
the mysteries of the earth, sweet potatoes are nurturing and reliable in
a way other foods of a more frivolous nature could never hope to
Part of their ingenuous charm is their solid lineup of nutrients.
Sweet potatoes contain a wealth of vitamins and minerals, including
vitamins A, C and K, potassium and B vitamins, as well as fiber, which
reduces the risk of cancers of the colon and rectum, and reduces
cholesterol. They\u2019re rich in beta carotene, a potent antioxidant that
helps prevent heart disease and cancer, especially breast cancer and
cancers of the bladder, cervix, prostate and lungs. A carotenoid-rich
diet regulates blood sugar levels, and may reduce the risk of insulin
resistance. Beta carotene also protects against diseases of the eye,
including macular degeneration.
Nourishing as they are, the culinary appeal of the sweet potato is discounted--the regrettable result of a long history of faulty preparation techniques. They\u2019re forever saddled with a longstanding and
unfortunate alliance with marshmallows, in the clumsy casseroles too
familiar to holiday tables, or (worse) burdened by Karo syrup in the
usually cloying and graceless sweet potato pie.
Handled well, though, sweet potatoes have a rich, sweet
earthiness unmatched by few other vegetables. Treat them well: cube
and slowly roast them, enveloped in olive oil, garlic and minced
rosemary, cover them with a comforting blanket of curry-laced coconut
milk; or shred them and gently saut\u00e9 with chopped walnuts, ground
cinnamon and cardamom, and other fragrant spices. Or feature them
in the earthy, simple recipes below, designed to celebrate this most
humble of vegetables.
and would-be botanists, both yams and sweet potatoes are
angiosperms (we cal those flowering plants), yams are a monocot\u2014a
plant that has one embryonic seed leaf--and belong to the
Dioscoreaceae family. Sweet potatoes are a dicot--a plant having (you
guessed it) two embryonic seed leaves--and are from the
Convolvulacea or morning glory family
For the foodies and regular folk, yams are more closely related to
lilies and wild grasses. They\u2019re starchier and mealier than sweet
potatoes, and their flesh is often pale and dry. The skin of sweet
potatoes range in color from pale yellow to deep red, purple or brown, and the flesh has a richer, deeper flavor and more moist, yielding flesh when cooked. Those softer sweet potatoes are often labeled as yams in the average supermarket.
The name confusion began, regrettably, during the era of
slavery, when African slaves labeled sweet potatoes \u201cyams,\u201d
since they closely resembled the starchy tuber native to their
homeland. The name stuck. There\u2019s still a great deal of confusion
about the issue, especially in the South, where there\u2019s a great
deal of confusion about essentially everything.
It\u2019s anon-issue, really, since you\u2019ll have to go out of your
way to find yams; unless you\u2019re in an international market, the
lumpy, bumpy tuber you\u2019ll usually find is the sweet potato,
regardless of what it\u2019s called in the common grocer\u2019s bins.
Parsnips and Sweet Potatoes with Hazelnuts
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small red onion, minced
1 pound sweet potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 pound parsnips, cut into 1/4-inch slices
2 small cloves garlic
Use your Facebook login and see what your friends are reading and sharing.
Now bringing you back...
Please enter your email address below to reset your password. We will send you an email with instructions on how to continue.