Sweet potatoes have been grown in the Americas since before the arrival of Columbus. Today, we have many different ways to prepare these root vegetables, which really aren't related to potatoes at all. Sweet potatoes should be cooked slowly at a high temperature to encourage the sugars they contain to caramelize. You can bake them whole and eat in the same manner that you would a baked white potato, or you can peel and cut them into chunks and bake them. Either way, you're certain to create a healthy and delicious side dish.
Baking Whole Sweet Potatoes
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Place a piece of aluminum foil underneath the rack on which you will place the sweet potatoes. This will catch any drippings, which can be a challenge to remove from your oven.
Wash the sweet potatoes and wrap them in aluminum foil. Place them 4 inches apart from one another on the top rack of your oven.
Bake for 45 minutes or longer. Test for doneness by donning an oven mitt and lightly squeezing a sweet potato. It should give easily under the gentle pressure of your fingers.
Remove from the oven when cooked, and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Carefully remove the aluminum foil and serve. Butter, cinnamon and brown sugar are delicious additions to a baked sweet potato.
Oven-Roasted Sweet Potato Cubes
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.
Wash the sweet potatoes and use a paring knife to remove any callused areas on the skin or budding sprouts.
Peel each sweet potato with a vegetable peeler.
Cut each sweet potato into 1/2-inch cubes. Place the cubes in a self-sealing plastic bag. Add olive oil to the sweet potatoes, along with salt and red pepper to taste. Seal the bag and shake to distribute the oil and seasoning equally.
Place in single layer in a 9-by-13-inch baking pan and bake for 20 minutes or until tender.
Lining the baking pan with foil makes clean-up easier; just toss the foil.
Sweet potatoes can be prepared to be either savory or sweet. Experiment with different spices to see which ones you enjoy the most.
Chopped nuts, shredded coconut and dried fruit are all good toppings for baked sweet potatoes. For an unusual, but delicious taste, try eating your sweet potato with low-fat sour cream.
Always allow sweet potatoes to cool for at least 10 minutes after baking, as they can release steam that can cause burns.