By Gina Marinelli, Gourmet Cook & Contributing Writer
I have absolutely no clue as to how, when or why my fascination with the sweet potato began, but as of right now the sweet potato rules my world! About a month ago I roasted a few sweet potatoes that I had in the pantry. I rubbed them with a little butter, gave them a few pricks with a fork, put them in the oven at 220 and went out back to work in the garden. After about two hours I came in and said "Oh shite! I forgot about the sweet potatoes! When I took them out of the oven and opened up their roasted jackets the soft, steaming bright orange flesh was incredibly gorgeous.
The flesh just fell from the skin and begged for a huge spoonful of raw butter and a small drizzling of raw honey. I let them cool while I prepared a mixed green salad of kale,collards, spinach, arugula and mixed lettuces dressed with a raw beaten egg,some raw cream a drizzle of sesame oil, sprinkle of red pepper flakes and dash of cinnamon. Let me tell you this was an epicurean delight extraordinaire! Love love love. So easy. So satisfying and so nutritious! Since then I have roasted a sweet potato almost everyday. And of course now that I am in love, I am scouring every cookbook looking for the ultimate recipe, and learning so much about this seemingly simple tuber.
Sweet potato yams. That's the way you find them named in the market. Pretty confusing. Which one is which? Well, unless you shop at an international market, you are buying a sweet potato. African slaves gave their native name "nyami" to the sweet potato because it tasted similar to what they ate in Africa and thus the fusion, confusion of the two names.
Types of Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes come with light tan, orange, and purple skins. The flesh varies from pale to dark,rich orange. In general, the darker the flesh the sweeter and moister once cooked.
The Garnet, the Jewel, the Louisiana and the Jersey are the four varieties that I am most familiar with. The Jersey being the more nuttier and drier. I understand that strains of sweet potatoes are constantly changing and some newcomers that may make it to your market can be named, the Diana or the Beauregard. Local farmers markets can give you more details on the growing habits and varieties that are being developed.
I am quoting this straight out of Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon. If you don't own this cookbook go and check it out. Not only does it have great recipes but it is one of the most educational cookbooks I have ever read. And, lo and behold Sally gives me the freedom to lavish my little sweeties with butter,cream and egg yolks!
"There's probably no vegetable with a higher betacarotene content than the sweet potato.This is the betacarotene that protects us against cancer,colds,infections and other diseases. The carotene content of sweet potatoes actually increases as the vegetable is stored throughout the winter. But remember that our bodies can only convert carotene to vitamin A in the presence of bile salts. That's why it is so important to eat sweet potatoes with butter,egg yolks or cream. (I had a feeling about that)These fats stimulate the secretion of bile and help the body to convert carotenes to all important vitamin A. These wonderful fats also make sweet potatoes taste delicious.(no kidding!) The sweet potato is a good source of iron,potassium,niacin and vitamin C.(no wonder none of us have had a cold take hold) It contains fiber and is very rich in vitamin B6, a vitamin that is highly protective against heart disease. Last but not least the sweet potato is rich in magnesium, another nutrient that protects against heart disease."
Wow! Who knew! And I might also note that sweet potatoes when eaten with raw cheese can reduce anxiety. It really works. My daughter Gianna suffers from OCD and when Michael told her to try this remedy her anxiety diminished. I also give this combination to my 2 year old granddaughter and find that she is much more even keeled throughout the day.Read more on this in the book We Want To Live by Aajonus Vonderplanitz.
Sweet tender jewels, it is no wonder that I love you.
scrub potatoes dry and rub small amount of butter over skin prick top and bottom with a fork
I usually put them in the oven at low temperature 220 for about an hour or until soft
In the meantime prep your greens
I remind you to always buy your greens fresh and organically grown. If you can't make it to a local farmers market or grow your own find out if there is a Whole Foods in your area or other Health food store.
1 bunch of Kale
1 bunch of collards
1 bunch of spinach or large handful of already washed
1 bunch of arugula
variety of lettuces
wash and cut kale and collards leave ribs on for texture or remove by slicing down either side of the leaf
I always over prepare greens, the excess never goes to waste, I'm a carb type and eat greens at the start of every meal.
In a beautiful large serving bowl add mixture of greens
1 raw egg (room temperature if possible)Did you know that farm fresh eggs never need to be refrigerated?
2 tablespoons raw cream
drizzle of sesame oil
red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste
I crack the raw egg right over the greens
Once the potatoes have cooled cut into medallions and then cut in half
toss with a generous amount of raw butter and a small amount of raw honey and a sprinkling of cinnamon and red pepper flakes salt and black pepper
top salad with this mixture and gently toss together
There are so many ways to enjoy sweet potatoes. I am experimenting daily. I am especially fond of the sweet and spicy but often i will just dab on some butter with a little cinnamon or cumin. Simplicity is auspicious! Sometimes I"ll add a pippin apple to my salad mix or a blood orange, often I'll saute the greens with garlic. It tastes incredible with cranberry relish and raw chicken! I love it rolled up in lettuce with a piece of slow cooked turkey and a drizzle of raw honey. Fall in love with what nourishes you! I can assure you the results are dazzling!