I believe Gertrude Stein is credited with saying “If you enjoy something, you understand it.” Sweet potatoes, I understand you.
For awhile, my only knowledge of yams or sweet potatoes came through Thanksgiving and Chinua Achebe. My cousin prepares a spectacular dessert version of mashed sweet potatoes every year, and that was really my only first-hand experience of them. I did develop a fascination with them for awhile after reading Things Fall Apart because they seemed like the lifeblood of Achebe’s novel, tying the people to the land in a cycle of deep respect and reciprocity. There were also a few pages in The Invisible Man when the narrator comes across a yam vendor and orders a buttery syrupy yam that brings him back to his childhood and even challenges his self-perception. I don’t know what spiked my curiosity to try them again outside of Thanksgiving Day, but my reaction after Bite Number One was something like WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN ALL MY LIFE???
Oh the sweet potato. Packed with vitamin A in the form of beta-carotene and resounding with all sorts of goodness from potassium to vitamin C to B vitamins, this wonderful root vegetable offers better eyesight, disease prevention, stress relief, healthy skin and even helps to ward off depression. And it tastes like happiness. And its pretty much available all year round.
I can’t get enough of the sweet potato and apparently it can’t get enough of me because it keeps re-surging in all different forms on my plate. I like it mashed with coconut milk and maple syrup and a bit of butter…or walnuts and cranberries…or topped with almond butter. I like sweet potato pie with a walnut and hazelnut meal crust. I like them boiled or baked in their skins as a snack with some butter, cinnamon and nutmeg.
I like them roasted with carrots and capers and beets and fennel. I like sweet potato fries. I like sweet potato soup.
And I like eating them in the morning in an unusual but tasty, custardy frittata.
Breakfast Sweet Potato Dessert Frittata
1 tbsp chia seeds
1/2 cup coconut milk
2 tbsp honey
2 cage free eggs
1 tbsp butter
1/2 cup boiled, mashed sweet potato with skin removed
Optional garnishes: shaved coconut, crushed walnuts, dried cranberries
Stir the chia seeds into the coconut milk and let them sit overnight in the fridge. The seeds will expand and give the frittata a custard-like consistency similar to tapioca. In the morning, add the eggs and sweet potato to the mixture and whisk together. Preheat oven to 400°. Melt the butter in a small cast iron skillet or frying pan and pour in the mixture to fill the pan. Transfer to the oven and cook for about 10 minutes or until the frittata is firm. Remove it from the oven and drizzle with the honey. Garnish as desired. Enjoy!
Note: Sweet potatoes should always be served with some fat, as vitamin A is fat-soluble and will absorb better in the body.