Roasted and Mashed Sweet Potatoes
This dish makes converts out of sweet potato skeptics. That's because the ingredients and preparation elevate each other without overdoing it: roasting the potatoes whole allows them to caramelize without losing their juices; the slight saltiness of the butter brings out the natural sweetness of the potato and coconut milk. These minimal ingredients mix together to create a thick, hearty dish that knocks those marshmallow-topped, sugar-laden, baby food purees out of the park. Give it a try and your holiday tablescapes will never be the same again!
Sweet potatoes are native to Central America and are one of the oldest vegetables known to man. They have been consumed since prehistoric times as evidenced by sweet potato relics dating back 10,000 years that have been discovered in Peruvian caves.
Christopher Columbus brought sweet potatoes to Europe after his first voyage to the New World in 1492. By the 16th century, they were brought to the Philippines by Spanish explorers and to Africa, India, Indonesia and southern Asia by the Portuguese. Around this same time, sweet potatoes began to be cultivated in the southern United States, where they still remain a staple food in the traditional cuisine. In the mid-20th century, the orange-fleshed sweet potato was introduced to the United States and given the name "yam" to distinguish it from other sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes are a featured food in many Asian and Latin American cultures. Today, the main commercial producers of sweet potatoes include China, Indonesia, Vietnam, Japan, India and Uganda.
Following are some common names by which sweet potatoes are known in different languages and countries around the world: batata, boniato, camote (Spain and Mexico); kumar (Peru); kumara (Polynesian); and cilera abana,''protector of the children'' (eastern Africa); kara-imo, ''Chinese potato''(southern Kyushu, Japan); satsuma-imo and ''Japanese potato'' (most of the other parts of Japan), and Ubhatata (South Africa). In the United States, "Jewel," "Garnet," and "Beauregard" are among the most popular varieties.
There's a reason why sweet potatoes have such a rich history: they are some of the most nutrient-dense foods we can eat. One of nature's best suppliers of beta-carotenes (vitamin A), sweet potatoes are powerfully antioxidant, helping to protect our cells from free radicals. Beta carotenes are also known to promote eye health as well as protect skin from sun damage by deflecting UV rays and by repairing already-damaged cells. The sweet potato is also high in vitamin C and vitamin E, which combined with its high beta carotene levels elevates it to the status of a "beauty food", promoting healthy complexion and hair. Sweet potatoes are also rich in heart-healthy vitamin B6 and potassium. Vitamin B6 is shown to prevent artery and vessel hardening, and potassium is an important electrolyte that regulates sodium levels, balances fluids, and maintains steady heart rhythm. And if that's not enough, sweet potatoes are a great source of manganese, an important trace mineral that plays an important role in energy generation, heightens antioxidants, and is shown to regulate blood sugar levels, thereby helping to maintain a healthy weight. Sweet potatoes are super-real-foods.
While sweet potatoes are incredibly healthy in their own right, it is important to incorporate healthy fats because these fats help facilitate better mineral absorption. Carotenoids are released from their food carriers and combined with bile salts and lipids, before they can be absorbed intestinally. By consuming your sweet potatoes with healthy fat, you are ensuring the presence of lipids so that the carotenoids can be absorbed. So, add a little bit of your favorite fat to maximize both flavor and nutrition potential.
We've tried piercing the sweet potatoes before roasting. Even peeling and boiling them. But roasting the sweet potatoes whole imparts the most flavor without losing their natural juices. It may take longer than other options, but we guarantee the end product will be worth it.
4 large sweet potatoes
1 can coconut milk
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Place whole sweet potatoes on parchment paper on a baking sheet and bake for 90 minutes.
Allow potatoes to cool for 5 minutes, then discard peels and mix in coconut milk in a large bowl.