Like the average spud, fluffy sweet potato flesh can be boiled, baked, mashed and roasted – but its pumpkin-like qualities means it goes a lot further.
While there's a time and a place for a white, starchy spud, it can feel a bit dowdy compared to its exotic cousin. But despite being namesakes, the sweet potato is actually a root vegetable and not related to ordinary potatoes at all. Beneath its dusty brown shell lies an orange-white flesh that, when cooked, melts into a light fluff with a sugary, spicy taste. Beyond your usual baking, roasting and mashing techniques, sweet potatoes can be added to sweet and savoury dishes in the same way you would use pumpkins, squashes or yams. It's time to think outside the box when cooking this versatile root veg.
Let's get one thing straight from the off: while sweet potato has a better reputation in the health stakes than regular potatoes, there's actually not much between the two. In terms of carbohydrate, calorie and fibre content, the two are on a par with each other, however when it comes to vitamins C and A, the sweet potato punches above its weight. So, basically, don't go thinking you can eat double portions under the premise that sweet potato is the 'slimmers' choice'.
Rostis, hash browns or sautéed potatoes provide the foundation for many a fine breakfast, but try replacing your normal tatties with roots and all you have to do is slightly adjust the cooking times. Sweet potatoes already feature in this spicy Spanish one-pot hash recipe and this sweet potato & sprout hash with poached eggs. For a more playful version, get your spiralizer out and make our sweet potato hash, eggs & smashed avo, finished off with a drizzle of spicy sriracha.
Go wild for sweet potato wedges and fries – a high-fibre alternative to classic chips. These form a great accompaniment to lean turkey burgers for a healthy dinner, or for something more indulgent, smother them in blue cheese and serve with BBQ chicken. If you're a fish fan, why not make this crowd-pleasing recipe for crispy cod fingers with wedges & dill slaw, ideal for a budget family meal. Or just keep it simple by serving these wedges on their own with harissa paste and sour cream dip.
Jackets of joy
Step away from the traditional baked potato and try the sweeter alternative, while also bagging one of your five-a-day. This vibrant recipe for barbecued crispy sweet potatoes with chickpeas & tahini yogurt is a riotous party of flavours and textures, with creamy yogurt, bulky beans and crunchy pomegranate seeds. Another delicious veggie option is sweet potato jackets with guacamole & kidney beans. Finally, this tasty tuber is also a good match for fish. Try our tuna sweet potato jackets, or this spicy sweet jacket potato with piri-piri prawns for a wholesome supper.
A shepherd's or cottage pie can seem a little stodgy, so bring it out of the winter doldrums by replacing the traditional potato topping with sweet potato mash in our veggie shepherd's pie. Just prepare it as you would ordinary mash and add extra flavouring if you like – garlic, citrus rind, herbs or even ginger – just make sure it complements your filling. Or try our spicy pies with sweet potato mash for an innovative fusion of cottage pie with American Sloppy Joes.
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We have plenty of sweet potato soup recipes, so get out the blender – it's an ideal way of thickening soups without having to cram them with extra ingredients like barley or spelt. Try our popular sweet potato & lentil soup for a satisfying and simple homemade recipe. The root also lends itself well to spices and aromatic flavouring in Thai, Indian and Mexican variations.
On the subject of spice, sweet potato works really well as chunky pieces in curries and dhals, plus it provides bite and bulk to these sorts of vegetarian dishes. Combine sweet potato, chicken & coconut in a mildly spiced curry that is great to make with the kids. For more exotic options, make our vegan satay sweet potato curry or a fragrant West Indian curry to excite your tastebuds.
Try these other delicious sweet potato curries...
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