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How to make sweet potatoes tasty (i.e. not so sweet)?

linguafood Nov 12, 2009 07:44 AM

Hey hounds. Not a great fan of sweet potatoes (in my book, potatoes aren't supposed to be sweet -- and yes, i know they're not really potatoes), but have quite a bunch left from my last CSA pick-up. Would like to have some as a side dish with steak & salad tonight.

Roast? Pan-fry? Boil & mash?

Any recipe that UNDERplays their sweetness will be welcomed into my loving arms.

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  1. s
    Stuccolow RE: linguafood Nov 12, 2009 07:48 AM

    Cube and roast them, as you would with a potato, with onion, garlic, olive oil, lots of salt and pepper. Don't add anything sweet.

    1. Uncle Bob RE: linguafood Nov 12, 2009 07:56 AM

      Delicious in Beef stew.....Don't over cook!


      1. gansu girl RE: linguafood Nov 12, 2009 08:00 AM

        I have this sweet potato curry bookmarked 'cause I have a boatload of them from my CSA, too:


        I also have this thread from Chowhound as a favorite - lots of savory sweet potato ideas here:



        1. PBSF RE: linguafood Nov 12, 2009 08:06 AM

          Make oven sweet potato fries. Peel and cut into 1/2 inch sticks, toss with a little oil, salt and pepper, lay them on a sheet pan and roast in a preheated oven for about 25 minutes, shake them once or twice. Because of their high sugar, they brown and crisp nicely.
          Although I like sweet potatoes, I found them too sweet by themselves as a side dish; cube and roast them with potatoes, other root vegetbles, onions, etc. Or make a gratin mix with potato.

          1. greygarious RE: linguafood Nov 12, 2009 08:13 AM

            You want to minimize sweetness, so don't roast or fry - both of those create concentrate and caramelize the inherent sugars. Microwave, steam, or boil, then peel and mash. Top with butter or browned butter, S&P.

            1. Cherylptw RE: linguafood Nov 12, 2009 09:19 AM

              Here's a good recipe for Sweet Potato Hash. You can leave off the jerk seasoning & coconut if you desire

              Caribbean Sweet Potato Hash
              2 tablespoons butter
              2 tablespoons canola oil
              4 cups peeled & diced sweet potatoes
              ¼ cup red bell pepper, chopped
              ¼ cup red onion, chopped
              ¼ cup celery leaves. Chopped
              ¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
              1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
              1 tablespoon Caribbean jerk seasoning
              2 teaspoons ground cumin
              2 teaspoons smoked paprika
              2 teaspoons kosher salt
              1 teaspoon black pepper
              2 tablespoons fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
              ¼ cup toasted coconut

              Add the butter & oil to a large skillet; melt over low heat. Add the sweet potatoes and increase temperature to medium. Cook the potatoes, stirring for five minutes before stirring in the red bell pepper, onion, and celery leaves. Top the skillet with a lid; continue to cook for another five minutes, then add the cilantro, ginger, jerk seasoning, cumin, paprika, salt and black pepper. Stir well to blend ingredients, reduce heat to medium low, and continue to cook for another 10-15 minutes or until potatoes are fork tender. Spoon mixture into a serving dish and sprinkle with parsley and toasted coconut. Makes 6-8 servings.

              1. linguafood RE: linguafood Nov 12, 2009 10:15 AM

                Wow! Thanks everyone for posting! Especially gansu girl who pointed me to a thread I clearly could've searched for before asking. The creamy chipotle gratin sounds amazing. I might give that a try.

                2 Replies
                1. re: linguafood
                  ChristinaMason RE: linguafood Nov 12, 2009 10:59 AM

                  just a word to the wise. a friend of mine made the gratin and followed one commenter's suggesting of subbing yogurt. said it was a total flop. i guess the cream is what makes it so tasty, in which case you have to ask yourself whether you really want to "spend" those calories on a vegetable you don't like all that much, anyway.

                  1. re: ChristinaMason
                    linguafood RE: ChristinaMason Nov 12, 2009 11:03 AM

                    Yah, the cream was one of the reasons I opted out on that one.... plus, it'd be an extra shopping trip for the canned chipotle (sound familiar '-)?) & the cream.

                    I don't think I'd ever sub yogurt for cream, especially when hot temps are involved.

                2. s
                  sparkareno RE: linguafood Nov 12, 2009 10:29 AM

                  I would bake or nuke them & add a little cumin & cayenne along with butter & sea salt.

                  1. linguafood RE: linguafood Nov 12, 2009 10:40 AM

                    Ah, nuking them sounds like a nice easy way. Do you keep the peels on, and for how long do you nuke?

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: linguafood
                      greygarious RE: linguafood Nov 12, 2009 10:46 AM

                      Either peel or not. It's impossible to tell you how long, since size and shape are so variable. Until they are getting soft; by the time they are cool enough to handle, they will have finished cooking. They are easy to peel after microwaving.

                      1. re: linguafood
                        ChristinaMason RE: linguafood Nov 12, 2009 11:00 AM

                        you can nuke and then mash them with a little milk, browned butter, parmesan, minced sage and rosemary. lots of salt and black pepper. i imagine this would be tasty topped with some panko and run under the broiler, too.

                        1. re: ChristinaMason
                          linguafood RE: ChristinaMason Nov 12, 2009 11:05 AM

                          Too bad the broiler's already taken by the rib-eye. I'll let y'all know how it came out.

                          THANKS EVERYBODY for all the great suggestions!

                          Ironically enough, I've had sweet potato pie which I mistook for pumpkin pie. And I liked it.

                        2. re: linguafood
                          Caitlin McGrath RE: linguafood Nov 12, 2009 11:03 AM

                          I will sometimes "roast" them in the microwave, and unlike russets, nuking sweet potatoes (at least the orange-fleshed jewel and garnet types, don't know about the yellow type) whole yields a result almost equivalent to baking in the oven.

                          Whether you mash or simply serve like a baked potato, one way to downplay the sweetness is to up the umami. Salt and pepper, butter, and lots of grated parmesan is delicious and more savory than they are on their own.

                          1. re: Caitlin McGrath
                            ChristinaMason RE: Caitlin McGrath Nov 12, 2009 11:10 AM

                            Great minds...

                          2. re: linguafood
                            sparkareno RE: linguafood Nov 12, 2009 03:18 PM

                            I nuke them with the skin on (poke with fork) for about 4 minutes or until they give to a little pressure & then wrap in foil for a few minutes for carryover cooking. I made sweet potato soup this weekend & put peanut butter in it--definately gave it a good flavor along w/ cumin & red pepper.

                          3. monavano RE: linguafood Nov 12, 2009 10:50 AM

                            Go into your spice drawer and see what you've got. Roast them with s&p, evoo, and a spice. Garam Masala, 5 spice, cumin, curry, ginger, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder.....try something aromatic.
                            You can't go wrong!
                            Leftovers? Make hash or throw into a fritatta.

                            1. k
                              Kooper RE: linguafood Nov 12, 2009 12:24 PM

                              Try grilled on the bbq brushed with Olive oil and pumpkin spice. They are really good.

                              I also did a sweet potato bread that I took from the Joy of Cooking. I have tried it with pumpkin and it was amazing as well. The sweet potato was nice and not too sweet.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Kooper
                                greygarious RE: Kooper Nov 12, 2009 12:31 PM

                                I;ve made sweet potato pound cake that was good, and I love sweet potato pie, but the OP wanted to minimize the sweetness for use as a side dish.

                              2. k
                                Karen_Schaffer RE: linguafood Nov 12, 2009 12:35 PM

                                Adding chile powder or cayenne is great contrast to the sweetness of sweet potatoes. I like to slice or cube them, toss them with olive, salt & pepper, and chile powder (be generous, espeically if you like spicy), then roast at 400 for about 30-45 minutes. Serve with lemon or lime wedges for extra zing.

                                1. ipsedixit RE: linguafood Nov 12, 2009 12:35 PM

                                  Make a salad out of them.

                                  Peel, slice thin, and then julienne into jackets. Then quickly blanch them, just for a few seconds.

                                  Toss with a dressing of your choosing. I usually like to toss them with some diced garlic, ginger, red wine vinegar, sugar, olive oil and chili flakes. Garnish with some chopped green onions.

                                  (note: you can add some julienned regular potatoes to add a nice color contrast.)

                                  1. carswell RE: linguafood Nov 12, 2009 03:54 PM

                                    World's best sweet potato soup, which has become a Thanksgiving staple in my family. (Memory's vague but it may be adapted from a John Ash recipe.)

                                    - Combine sour cream with lime zest and juice to make lime cream.
                                    - Boil sweet potatoes in their jackets until tender. Peel. Cut into pieces.
                                    - Meanwhile, brown chopped onion in butter. Add the sweet potatoes and chicken broth. Purée. Thin with more chicken broth if necessary. Add some finely chopped fresh jalapeños. Simmer for 20-30 minutes.
                                    - Adjust seasoning. Ladle into bowls. Garnish with the lime cream (thinned to a pourable consistency with lime juice).

                                    The lime cream is also great dolloped on chili powder-dusted, roasted sweet potatoes. In general, lime and chile work beautifully with the tubers, giving them lift and cutting the sweetness.

                                    1. linguafood RE: linguafood Nov 12, 2009 04:16 PM

                                      And more delicious ideas! You guys are unbelievable :-D

                                      So I ended up slicing them, tossed in olive oil, cayenne pepper, and the "Maharajah" curry mix from Penzey's, then roasted for about 40 min. at 400˚F.

                                      Then I mashed them -- they were already pretty soft --, and added some crème fraîche, to mellow out the cayenne pepper with which I had gone a bit overboard ....

                                      They were ok. Still heavy on the sweet side (I know, I know, the roasting probably really brought out the sugars), but not bad. I just don't understand how anyone could add sugar, maple syrup or other stuff to them, unless you want a dessert.

                                      I guess I'm just not crazy about them....

                                      1. EM23 RE: linguafood Nov 12, 2009 04:30 PM

                                        Just made my weekly sweet potato oven fries for dinner tonight--easy, delicous and not sweet.

                                        Slice very thin, toss w/ EVOO, season w/ kosher salt, pepper, cayenne & cinnamon. Bake at 425 for about 6 minutes, flip over, bake another 4-6 minutes.

                                        Watch the fries, especially after flipping. If you slice very thin as I do (a hair past paper thin) they can burn fast, and suddenly.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: EM23
                                          sunshine842 RE: EM23 Oct 18, 2010 10:29 PM

                                          oh, yum. I had sweet potato fries for the first time this summer at a Ruby Tuesday's, of all places. They served it with a dipping sauce that was based on Pickapeppa sauce, and it RAWKED.

                                        2. Will Owen RE: linguafood Nov 12, 2009 04:36 PM

                                          When I was growing up, we always had them simply boiled, peeled, and mashed with butter, salt and pepper. Great side for a simple pork roast, and on T-Day there was always a bowl alongside the other mashed potatoes. Our family generally viewed the whole brown-sugar-marshmallow thing with horror and disdain; when the inevitable dish of this would appear at church potlucks we kids would take a taste to see how bad it really was, and argue over our findings. I found them much too sweet, while my brother didn't think "too sweet" was a valid category...

                                          1. chowser RE: linguafood Nov 12, 2009 04:52 PM

                                            Would you consider sweet potato rolls to undercut the sweetness, or gnocchi? Probably too late of a suggestion at this point.

                                            1. dockhl RE: linguafood Nov 12, 2009 05:06 PM

                                              Our favorite is to squirt with some lime juice, add a little butter and seasoned salt......roast or steamed or boiled, doesn't matter.

                                              1. s
                                                Sharuf RE: linguafood Nov 13, 2009 06:17 AM

                                                All I ever do is bake them in their jackets (just like baked potatoes). Years ago I quit trying to peel them or boil them -- baking is easier and produces IMO better texture and flavor. I just scoop out the cooked flesh and usually serve them just plain mashed - they don't even need butter.

                                                They'll bake all by themselves in the time it takes to do most oven-activities. Just be sure to put a little foil under them to catch any drippings.

                                                1. eclecticsynergy RE: linguafood Oct 18, 2010 03:54 PM

                                                  One of my favorite go-to potluck dishes is to roast a few large garnets until they're nice and soft, scoop 'em out and mash them by hand with one finely minced chipotle and plenty of butter. The smoky/spicy balances out the sweetness very nicely. They hold well and reheat well and can be made spicier if desired with a spoonful of the adobo sauce that the chipotles come canned in. Or made creamier with the addition of... wait for it... cream. Or sour cream, heated buttermilk, softened cream cheese, etc.

                                                  Got the idea originally from a Bobby Flay recipe years ago, but that involved extra steps of whipping with a hand mixer and baking again in a casserole dish which sweetens them further and which I usually bypass.

                                                  There's a sort of scalloped casserole version of this dish using sliced sweet potatoes and a ton of cream (billed as "the best sweet potato dish ever in history") on another thread here:


                                                  But I'm sure that's a step further away from the savory end of the spectrum.

                                                  9 Replies
                                                  1. re: eclecticsynergy
                                                    linguafood RE: eclecticsynergy Oct 18, 2010 04:12 PM

                                                    Excellent! I don't generally buy them (and am not a CSA member anymore), but if I ever should feel like I have to make a sweet potato dish, the chipotle one sounds great! I just recently took the plunge and bought chipotle peppers in adobo sauce for the first time, and LOVE them. I didn't know it was the sauce that was spicy, not the peppers themselves, as I pureed it all together and it is now a neat little condiment / ingredient ready to be used.

                                                    1. re: linguafood
                                                      goodhealthgourmet RE: linguafood Oct 18, 2010 04:39 PM

                                                      when i saw the title of this thread, my immediate thought was chipotle (followed by curry). so glad you finally bought some - it's a terrific, versatile seasoning. you can even freeze by the teaspoon or tablespoon and just grab a dollop when you need it! i portion it out in an ice cube tray, freeze until solid, and store in a freezer-safe container or bag.

                                                      and if you need a reason to use some of it up...

                                                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                                        linguafood RE: goodhealthgourmet Oct 18, 2010 04:57 PM

                                                        oh yeah. black bean dip. niiiiice.

                                                        1. re: linguafood
                                                          goodhealthgourmet RE: linguafood Oct 18, 2010 05:34 PM

                                                          let me know how you like the dip if you try it. oh, and in addition to the usual suspects like chicken adobo and enchiladas, the adobo is also awesome in cocktail sauce, barbecue sauce, remoulade, mayo (for things like egg or chicken salad)....

                                                          1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                                            linguafood RE: goodhealthgourmet Oct 18, 2010 10:18 PM

                                                            i made a chipotle mayonnaise (Duke's, of course) to dip grilled veggies in for poker last week, and it worked great with homemade fries last night. chicken salad does sound like a great idea, too.

                                                            1. re: linguafood
                                                              goodhealthgourmet RE: linguafood Oct 18, 2010 10:44 PM

                                                              shredded chicken, green onion, chipotle mayo (spiked with a bit of sour cream), lime juice, diced avocado, fresh cilantro, salt & pepper. mmm....

                                                              1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                                                linguafood RE: goodhealthgourmet Oct 18, 2010 11:43 PM

                                                                tastes like summer. i might need that soon once it gets colder. if i can find decent avocados - always an issue.

                                                                1. re: linguafood
                                                                  goodhealthgourmet RE: linguafood Oct 19, 2010 12:19 PM

                                                                  right, sorry - here in SoCal we have access to decent avocados year-round. but you can still make the chicken salad without it!

                                                    2. re: eclecticsynergy
                                                      biondanonima RE: eclecticsynergy Oct 19, 2010 12:43 PM

                                                      I know this is an old thread, but in case anyone is looking for a new idea I love sweet potatoes with blue cheese. Sweet potato fries with blue cheese salad dressing for a dipping sauce are divine, but I also love to make mashed sweet potatoes with gorgonzola or stilton mixed in. Really any salty cheese works well with them, but there's something special about blue, at least for me!

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