Fall has arrived. Well, actually, the weather got a bit carried away and skipped fall pretty much altogether and jumped to winter. And then it jumped back to summer. It was 28 degrees two weekends ago and yesterday it was almost 80. Whatever the temperature, the leaves are changing and I'm finally able to feel excited about fall flavors in a way I couldn't a few weeks ago. I haven't dove in on the squash yet, but I have been enjoying a lot of sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes certainly aren't just a fall food. I am known to enjoy a sweet potato fry any month of the year, but the do lend themselves well to heartier fall dishes. And word on the street is they're pretty darn good for you too.
Before I go any farther, we must address the nomenclature of the sweet potato. In most grocery stores I've shopped in, I see the "sweet potatoes" sitting next to the "garnet yams." For the longest time I had no idea what the difference was, and when I was shopping for a recipe that called for "sweet potatoes," I'd buy either one. Usually I'd go with the ones labeled "sweet potatoes" (obviously), but if all they had were "yams" (or if the "yams" were on sale!), I'd go with those.
Turns out, there are many varieties of sweet potatoes. Check out this Saveur slideshow of 16 types! I think the "sweet potatoes" you see most often in stores are Beauregards or jewels. And those "yams" are usually garnets. Because, get ready for this, yams are actually nothing like sweet potatoes! They're a different food altogether. Huffington Post gets to the bottom of it, if you're curious. I was.
Anyway. The point is you can buy whichever type of sweet potato your store happens to carry, and maybe if you're lucky you'll be able to find an heirloom variety. My hands-down favorite thing to do with sweet potatoes is to roast them. With some ancho chili powder. Or whatever seasoning you like. Smoked paprika works well. Or regular paprika and a little bit of cayenne. Once roasted, I love to eat them plain, or eat them on an arugula salad with a bit of crumbled goat cheese or feta. Here's what you do:
Ancho Chili Roasted Sweet Potatoes
2 medium sweet potatoes, any variety
2T olive oil
2-3t ancho chili powder
1T coarse salt
1. Cut sweet potatoes into 1/4-inch rounds. (You can peel the potatoes if you hate the skin, but I wouldn't recommend it. The skin is completely edible and contains lots of nutrients.) 2. Preheat oven to 450. 3. Mix olive oil, salt, and spices in a large bowl. 4. Add the sweet potatoes and stir or toss until most potatoes are coated in oil and spices. 5. Arrange rounds on a parchment or foil lined baking sheet. I like to baste the rounds with more seasoning, using a pastry brush. 6. Bake for ~40 minutes, flipping potatoes rounds over (and adding more seasoning if desired) over after 20.