Over the past few years Sweet Potatoes have been elevated in status at my family’s table. These days we eat them at least once a week, and frequently more often. Savoring their creamy sweetness I now wonder how I could have ever spurned them.
It’s hard to believe that I hardly touched sweet potatoes for the first forty years of my life. In fact, none of my family much liked them. The only time I ever saw them as a child was at Thanksgiving dinner. There they came from a can before they were slathered with butter and brown sugar then blanketed in marshmallows, additions that covered rather than enhanced the innate sweetness of those gorgeous roots.
The Sweetest Sweet Potatoes
These days I frequently enjoy sweet potatoes unadorned by butter or cream and without the addition of brown sugar or marshmallows. All alone, roasted sweet potatoes are deliciously smooth and sweet.
That said, while great on their own, roasted sweet potatoes are easily taken from basic to special when smashed with a few simple additions from the spice drawer: a small amount of ground ginger, a pinch of cardamon, a dash of salt, a whisper of cayenne. A drizzle of honey also adds an interesting dimension, a rich bridge between the spices and the potatoes' natural sweetness. With these spare embellishments Smashed Sweet Potatoes become completely irresistible.
This side dish is also easy to prepare. The sweet potatoes can be roasted ahead and stored in the refrigerator until ready to use. When you get a break in meal prep, simply peel the sweet potatoes and smash them with their spices. Microwave them or place them in the oven to warm. They’ll be ready when you are.
3 or 4 medium sweet potatoes (about 2 pounds)
1 Tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamon
dash of cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
1. Scrub sweet potatoes and pat dry. Poke each potato with a fork several times.
2. Place the prepared sweet potatoes in the middle of the oven, directly on the oven rack. (Place a foil lined pan on a lower oven rack under the potatoes to catch any drips.) Roast sweet potatoes until tender, generally about 1 hour. They are done when a fork can easily be inserted. You want the potatoes to be quite soft.
Note: Sweet Potatoes can be roasted at higher or lower temperatures than 375F. Tuck them into the oven around other items you may have in the oven and adjust the baking time accordingly.
Do ahead tip: Allow roasted sweet potatoes to cool then store in the refrigerator, in a covered container or wrapped in foil, until ready to use.
3. Peel sweet potatoes. Place the peeled potatoes in a bowl and mash them roughly with a potato masher or a fork. If you baked the sweet potatoes in advance, reheat them at this point, in the oven or microwave.
4. Add the honey, ginger, cardamon and salt to the smashed sweet potatoes. Continue mashing until well combined. Rewarm in microwave, if necessary, or cover and keep warm in the oven until ready to serve.