Versatile. Nutritious. Sweet!
The sweet potato can show up from soup to nuts -- or at least in a nutty dessert -- during your Thanksgiving meal.
Although the sweet potato is used in many similar ways to "regular" potatoes, it isn't a potato at all -- it belongs to a different botanical family. And although it's often called a yam, especially in the South, true yams are botanically distinct.
Don't limit your use of sweet potatoes to the holiday season. All year-round, they're remarkably nutritious, high in vitamin C and extremely high in vitamin A. They're also antioxidant-rich, a good source of fiber and have anti-inflammatory and blood-sugar-regulating properties.
> SWEET POTATO BISCUITS
2 medium sweet potatoes
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 tablespoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
1/3 cup low-fat or whole milk
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Bake or microwave the potatoes until soft and tender, about 45 minutes in the oven or about 10 minutes in the microwave.
When potatoes are cool enough to touch, peel, then mash until smooth with a potato masher or in a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Measure out 1 cup (reserve the rest for another use).
In the same bowl of the food processor or in the bowl where you mashed the potatoes, combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add butter. Pulsing the processor or using a pastry blender, cut in butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal.
Combine sweet potato and milk in a small bowl; whisk until smooth. Add to the flour mixture, mixing until just moist.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead lightly four or five times. Using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll out the dough 3/4 inch thick. Cut out 10 biscuits with a 1-inch biscuit cutter, pressing the cutter down without twisting so the biscuits will rise evenly when baked.
Line a rimmed baking sheet with a silicone liner or parchment paper. Place the biscuits on the baking sheet. Gather together the scraps by placing the pieces on top of each other. Roll out 3/4 -inch thick and cut 5 or 6 more biscuits. Place on the baking sheet. Discard any remaining dough scraps.
Bake until lightly browned, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Serve warm.
Per biscuit: 110 calories; 4g fat; 2g saturated fat; 10mg cholesterol; 2g protein; 17g carbohydrate; 2g sugar; 1g fiber; 275mg sodium; 50mg calcium.
-- Adapted from "Basic to Brilliant, Y'all" by Virginia Willis (Ten Speed Press, $35)
> SWEET POTATO PUFF
1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, baked or microwaved until soft
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
3 large eggs, separated
1/3 cup heavy cream
Kosher or sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Grease a 2-quart gratin dish or smaller souffle dishes.
Peel the sweet potatoes and mash them coarsely with a fork in a mixing bowl. Add thyme, vinegar, egg yolks, cream and salt and pepper to taste. Beat until combined.
In another bowl, whip the egg whites with a pinch of salt to stiff peaks. Fold the whites into the sweet potato mixture gently but thoroughly; spoon into the baking dish or dishes. Bake about 30 minutes (22 to 25 minutes for smaller dishes), until puffed but set and golden in spots.
For the best presentation, serve immediately; puff will deflate slightly as it cools.
Per serving: 155 calories; 8g fat; 4g saturated fat; 125mg cholesterol; 5g protein; 17g carbs; 6g sugar; 2g fiber; 65mg sodium; 35mg calcium.
-- Adapted from "One Potato, Two Potato," by Roy Finamore with Molly Stevens (Houghton Mifflin, 2001)