[Eating Rainbow | Orange | Sweet Potatoes]
We had something of a turnaround moment this past Thanksgiving holiday.
See, prior to this past Thanksgiving, we must have had some early traumatic experience with a certain dish comprised of bright orange-colored carb bombs coated with butter and sticky sweet sugar because every Thanksgiving between that suppressed memory and now, we can’t even bear to sit on the same side of the table let alone take a single bite of that dish that is known as…candied yams. So horrible was our feeling about it that we wouldn’t eat anything that even remotely resembled the tubers, which meant that we wouldn’t touch any form of sweet potatoes, either.
And then we learned not only the huge difference between the two, but also how to cook sweet potatoes in a way that we would eat them long past Thanksgiving, Christmas, and any other holiday that required a starchy side dish on the celebratory table.
Simply roasted sweet potatoes. Olive oil. Garlic. Maybe some herbs. Not a drop of sweetness anywhere near them except in the name.
The easiest way to roast sweet potatoes is nothing but “scrub n rub” — scrub each sweet potato down hard, then rub each with olive oil before throwing them into a 400 degree oven to roast for about an hour. The flesh inside, which can range anywhere from a pale, peachy cream to a bright orange (which is where the confusion with yams lies), gets soft and luscious and sweet and can be scooped right out of the skin like a regular old baked potato.
(To be quite honest, these particular sweet potatoes are better suited for the yellow week of Eating Rainbow, but we aren’t prepared to come up with a new orange-colored recipe.)
We’re finding, though, that we quite like taking the time to peel sweet potatoes, to dice them, to toss them with olive oil and salt and perhaps some garlic and herbs, then roasting them so that each little cube gets crisp on the surfaces, and caramel-y along the edges. About halfway through roasting, we throw chopped kale onto the roasting pan to finish out the cook time (and if we happen to have any other vegetables, like shiitake mushrooms, we add those, too).
When it’s all said and done (about 40 minutes total), we have a huge bowl of Roasted Beta-Carotene (and if we ever make it to the last part of the Eating Rainbow, anthocyanins, which are found in the Japanese purple sweet potato).
Sweet potatoes have a lot going for them nutritionally, and in fact, might be the number one food for nutrition. Even if you were to have a tiny serving of sweet potatoes, nutrition data for roasted sweet potatoes with skin shows that you’d probably knock down your recommended daily allowance of vitamin A, come pretty close to all the vitamin C you need, and take in more fiber than a helping of oatmeal (wish we had worked that into our project last month). What do all these nutrients do? They fight free radicals, protect you from certain cancers, and one of our favorite concerns, fight the aging process.
Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Kale with Poached Eggs
Making a large, double portion of this at once can be served as a dinner side dish. We like to make the smaller amount, dish it into single serving bowls, top with poached eggs, and serve as individual “brunch bowls” for four.
2 large sweet potatoes, scrubbed (but not rubbed), peeled, and cut into ¾-inch dice
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ teaspoon salt
1 large bunch kale, washed and roughly chopped
2 more tablespoons olive oil
8 large eggs
Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.
Toss diced sweet potatoes with olive and salt and pepper to taste. Spread out in a single layer on a roasting pan, and roast at 400 degrees until soft and edges are crisp and caramelized, about 40 minutes.
Toss chopped kale with olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. About halfway through the sweet potatoes’ roasting time, add kale to the roasting pan. It’s okay if the kale is in a layer covering the sweet potatoes. Watch the kale after about 10 minutes. If it starts to get too dark on the edges, remove fro the roasting pan, and set aside on a plate.
Remove roasted sweet potatoes and kale after about a total roasting time of about 30 minutes. Toss together in a bowl. Test for salt and pepper.
Serve in individual bowls, each topped with 2 poached eggs.