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One Sweet Potato Is a Meal

On days when I just don’t want to expend a lot of thought on dinner  – and yes, there are those days – I turn to my fall and winter standby, the sweet potato. One medium sweet potato is a meal, and requires very little fuss. My favorite go-to preparation is to scrub the potato and then cut it either into slices (like fries) or rounds or wedges; whatever seems easiest depending on the tuber’s shape.

Toss the pieces with olive oil and the spice of your choice. I really like going spicy with sweet potatoes so I usually opt for smoked paprika or chili powder, often in combination with cumin. But curry powder or any Indian spice combo would work just as well. As might nutmeg and cinnamon, I suppose. Salt and pepper, and spread the pieces out on a baking sheet – use parchment paper to make clean up even easier – and roast/bake at somewhere around 350 or 375 degrees until crispy and browning. Depending on your oven and the size of the potato this should take about 30 -40 minutes or so. If you’re feeling industrious, flip the pieces about half way through.

Serve this with a herb yogurt sauce. Herb yogurt sauce: just mix some chopped fresh herb, or even some dried ones, into your favorite plain yogurt and let it sit for a while so the flavors can infuse the yogurt. Maybe add some salt. Use as much yogurt as you think you’ll need to top the potato. If you’re lucky and have some leftover greens or something similar, that can be a great side dish. I recently had a side of cream-braised kale to go with my sweet potato, which worked out very nicely.

You could also just bake the potato whole and then split it open and pile the creamed kale or spinach on top with a bit of yogurt. Or some cheese. Mix and match based on what you have in your leftovers lineup. Either way, you get a very satisfying meal that doesn’t require a lot of thought or planning.

If I want to get fancier with my sweet potato, and I have some milk or cream on hand, I might opt for mashed sweet potato with chipotle peppers in adobe sauce. You just need one minced pepper with a bit of sauce for a large potato. Steam the peeled and cubed potato until tender – this should take about 10 minutes, check tenderness with a fork or knife –  and then mash with a bit of butter and enough milk (or veggie broth or very good olive oil) to get the consistency you like. Mash the chipotle pepper right along with it, or you could add some herbs or garlic.

For mashed sweet potato I do like to have a bit more as a side, although your braised kale will work very nicely here. But you could certainly go for a turkey cutlet or two, or a thin boneless chicken breast, lightly floured and then pan fried in butter and olive oil. That’s quick (especially with a thin cutlet), and you can make a pan sauce by deglazing the pan (which is just adding liquid to a hot pan to loosen the crunchy bits that are sticking to the pan) with vermouth or white wine or even chicken broth and then cooking that down with the  pan scrapings and maybe some of that cream (or milk) you have. Keep stirring until it looks like sauce and then pour it over your chicken/turkey and the mashed potatoes. And there you have it, an elegant little dinner.

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