Ready to expand your sweet potato repertoire beyond basic chips and wedges? Here are five more exciting ways to cook it.
Like halloumi and salted caramel, it’s rare to find someone who doesn’t like sweet potato. The orange root vegetable has distant roots in Central and South America, but has long since found its way into cuisines in countries ranging from Mozambique to Pakistan and on fast food menus from Louisiana to London.
Its popularity is partly down to its taste (sweet, mild and slightly nutty), as well as its easy adaptability. Deliciously crispy when fried, creamily fluffy when mashed, and caramelised and gooey when baked, sweet potatoes are a pleasingly flexible veg – yet it’s all too easy to end up relying on the same old staple recipes.
Keen to break out of your chips and wedges routine? Below, you’ll find five easy but inventive things to do with sweet potato.
First up: a beautiful cauliflower, sweet potato and chickpea traybake with coriander sambal. This Indonesian-inspired curry dish is packed with fragrant spices and lifted with coconut milk and lime zest.
The spicy sweet potato moussaka, meanwhile, is a Mexican-tinged twist on the classic Greek dish – an influence that can also be seen in the loaded sweet potato wedges. A million miles from the plain wedges you’ve had countless times before, this recipe features mango, black beans and a homemade vegan queso.
Finally, the nourishing sweet potato cottage pie can be made vegan or vegetarian depending on your mood, while the baked sweet potato with tuna, chilli and lime is a seriously upgraded version of a traditional tuna jacket. Regular potatoes just took a backseat…
Cauliflower, sweet potato and chickpea traybake with coriander sambal
Jessica Elliott Dennison says: “The brilliant thing about this recipe is that your oven does all the hard work to make a flavour-packed curry; freeing you to blitz up a bright and zingy sambal. Here I’ve suggested using coconut chips to mix with the coriander and lime, but use any toasted nuts or seeds that you’ve got to hand.”
- 2 tbsp coconut, rapeseed or vegetable oil
- 2 tbsp mustard seeds
- 1 x 400ml tin of coconut milk (ideally full-fat)
- thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger root, peeled and finely grated
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 1 ½ tsp ground turmeric
- 1 tsp sea salt flakes, plus extra to taste
- 1 large cauliflower, outer leaves removed, cut into wedges through the stem
- 2 sweet potatoes, cut into wedges (don’t bother peeling the skin)
- 100g spinach, washed
- 1 x 400g tin of chickpeas in water, rinsed and drained
- chapatis (optional), to serve
For the coconut and coriander sambal:
- 3 tbsp coconut chips/dried shavings
- handful of coriander leaves
- 1 green chilli, deseeded
- juice and grated zest of 1 lime
- ¼ tsp sea salt flakes
First, preheat the oven to 200°C/Gas 6.
Melt the coconut oil in a large, deep tray on the stove over a high heat, then add the mustard seeds and fry for 1–2 minutes, or until they begin to pop. If your stove isn’t gas, this can be done in a frying pan then transferred to the tray, or even done in the oven.
Stir in the coconut milk, ginger, garlic, cumin, turmeric, salt, cauliflower and sweet potato. Transfer to the oven and roast for 40 minutes, stirring halfway through.
To make the sambal, blitz together the coconut chips, coriander (stalks and leaves), chilli, lime zest and juice, and salt with a few splashes of water in a food processor, until you get a rough texture. You can also do this by chopping and mixing everything by hand.
Remove the tray from the oven and set aside the cauliflower and sweet potato to make space for the spinach and chickpeas. Stir until the spinach is wilted, adding a splash of water if it’s a bit dry.
Heat the chapatis in a warm oven or, carefully using tongs, hold over the gas flame on your cooker for a few seconds.
Divide the curried chickpeas among four plates, top with the roasted cauliflower and sweet potato, then spoon over the sambal. Serve with the chapatis on the side for mopping up the spiced roasting juices.
From Tin Can Magic by Jessica Elliott Dennison (£15, Hardie Grant), out now
Spicy sweet potato moussaka
One-dish meals are so handy if you’re cooking for your family or if you’re a fan of prepping your meals for the week ahead. One serving of this moussaka will provide two servings of vegetables in a pretty painless way and doubles up perfectly as lunchbox meals until you’ve worked through the whole bake.
- 1 aubergine
- 2 courgettes
- 400g peeled and diced sweet potato
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- ½ tsp cayenne pepper
- ½ tsp ground chipotle powder
- freshly squeezed juice of 1 lime
- 180g macadamia nuts, soaked for at least 2 hours
- 85g sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice (or apple cider vinegar)
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 baking sheets, greased
Preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas 4.
Slice the aubergine and courgette into rounds about 1cm thick. Arrange on the prepared baking sheets and bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool, but keep the oven on.
Meanwhile, boil the sweet potato cubes in a large pot of water set over a medium–high heat for about 16 minutes, until soft. Drain and mash the sweet potato and mix in the crushed garlic, cayenne, chipotle powder and lime juice.
Put the macadamia nuts, sun-dried tomatoes, cumin, lemon juice and salt in a blender and pulse until smooth.
Once you have prepared all of the components, it’s time to assemble the casserole. Place about 3 tbsp of the sweet potato mixture at the bottom of the casserole dish and spread thinly – it doesn’t matter if it doesn’t cover the entire surface.
Layer some of the baked aubergine first, then spread a generous layer of the sweet potato mixture on top.
Cover this with a layer of courgette, then some of the macadamia spread. Repeat until you have used up all of the ingredients, finishing with a thick layer of the macadamia mixture.
Cover the moussaka with foil and bake in the still-warm oven for 20 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for another 15 minutes.
From The Plant Kitchen (£14.99, Ryland Peters & Small), out now
Loaded sweet potato wedges
Roxy Pope and Ben Pook say: “A celebration of the humble sweet potato. Here we roast them as wedges, as well as blend them to create our very own homemade queso. Delish.”
- 50g cashews
- 1.2kg sweet potatoes
- salt and pepper
- vegetable oil
- 2 red onions
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1 ripe mango
- 1 red pepper
- a handful of fresh coriander, plus extra for topping
- 1 lime
- 2 x 400g tins of black beans
- 1 tbsp Cajun seasoning
- 4 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 180ml unsweetened plant-based milk
- 1 red chilli
- 1 avocado
Preheat the oven to 200°C fan/220°C/gas 7. Put the cashews into a bowl, cover with hot water from the kettle, and set to one side to soak.
Dice 200g of the sweet potatoes into 1cm pieces and place in the corner of a large roasting tray. Slice the remaining sweet potatoes into wedges, then place at the other end of the tray.
Season the wedges with ½ tsp of salt and a large pinch of pepper, drizzle over 2 tbsp of vegetable oil, and toss to combine.
Slice 1 red onion in half, skin on, and add it to the tray along with the garlic cloves (skins on). Roast for 20 minutes.
For the salsa, cut the mango in half around the stone, score the halves in a criss-cross pattern and scoop out the flesh.
Dice the red pepper, discarding the core and the seeds.
Peel and dice the remaining red onion and roughly chop the coriander leaves, discarding the stalks.
Add everything to a mixing bowl along with the juice from half the lime, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Mix everything together.
Take the tray out of the oven and remove the onion, garlic cloves and diced sweet potato. Move the sweet potato wedges around the tray, then return the tray to the oven for 10 minutes.
Drain and rinse the black beans. Add them to the tray along with the Cajun seasoning and gently give everything a mix. Roast for 10–15 minutes, or until the sweet potato is lightly charred.
To make the queso, drain the cashews and transfer them to a high-powered blender or food processor, along with the diced sweet potato, roasted red onion and garlic (skins removed from both), nutritional yeast, juice from the remaining lime half, milk, half the red chilli (seeds removed), and large pinches of salt and pepper. Blend until smooth.
Remove the wedges from the oven and scatter over the salsa and half the queso. Thinly slice the remaining chilli and roughly chop the rest of the coriander leaves.
Cut the avocado in half, scoop out and slice the flesh, then add it to the wedges, along with the sliced chilli and coriander leaves. Serve alongside the remaining queso. Epic.
From One Pot Vegan by Roxy Pope and Ben Pook of So Vegan (£16.99, Michael Joseph), out now
Veggie cottage pie with sweet potato mash
Kate Llewellyn-Waters says: “I love this plant-based cottage pie as it is packed with nutrients. I always make it with lentils, which are made up of over 25 per cent of protein and are thus a brilliant plant-based alternative to meat.
“I use sweet potatoes over white potatoes in this dish, as they are rich in fibre, vitamins and minerals, and are high in antioxidants that help protect our bodies from free radical damage and chronic disease.”
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 large onion, sliced
- 2 large carrots, diced
- small bunch of fresh thyme, chopped
- 150ml red wine, vegan if necessary
- 1 x 400g can chopped tomatoes
- 2 low-salt vegetable stock (bouillon) cubes
- 1 x 400g can black Beluga lentils
- 1kg sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
- 1 tsp ground nutmeg
- 100g grated vegan cheddar
- freshly ground black pepper
Gently heat the olive oil in a saucepan over a low heat. Add the onion and sweat for 5 minutes until softened, then add the carrots and most of the chopped thyme, reserving a little for sprinkling over later.
Add the wine, 50ml water and the tomatoes, and crumble in the stock cubes. Simmer for 10–12 minutes.
Add the lentils and their canning liquid, cover and simmer for a further 12 minutes until the lentils are pulpy.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180°C/gas 4.
Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil, add the sweet potatoes and cook for 15 minutes until tender. Drain and mash the potatoes and sprinkle over the nutmeg.
Transfer the cooked lentils to an ovenproof dish, top with the sweet potato mash and scatter over the cheese and the reserved thyme. Pop in the oven and cook for 30 minutes until golden and cooked though. Season to taste with freshly ground black pepper.
If you are not vegan or dairy-free, you can use a mature cheddar in place of the vegan cheese.
If you don’t drink alcohol, you can omit the wine and replace with vegetable stock (bouillon).
You can use any kind of lentils in this dish – I tend to use black Beluga lentils as they have a full-bodied flavour and work really well in hearty dishes such as this or casseroles.
This is a great dish to cook in batches and pop in the freezer (it will keep for up to a month in the freezer). Alternatively, you can keep it covered in the fridge for 2 days.
From The Immunity Cookbook by Kate Llewellyn-Waters (£20, Quadrille), out now
Baked sweet potato with tuna, chilli & lime
Tyrone Brennand says: “If you need evening energy, give this a go. The tuna and sweet potato are sustaining without being heavy. Lime makes it fresh and slightly sour; red onion gives sweetness; crème fraîche adds creaminess – perfectly balanced flavours.”
- 1 sweet potato (approx 200g)
- 1 tbsp coconut oil
- 2 large handfuls of baby spinach
- 1 x 145g can tuna in spring water, drained
- ½ red onion, finely sliced
- 1 red chilli, finely sliced (optional)
- 1 lime
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
- 3 tbsp crème fraîche
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 190°C/gas mark 5.
Prick the skin of the sweet potato all over with a fork. Place on a baking sheet and cook in the oven for around 50 minutes (or until tender).
Just before the potato is ready, heat the coconut oil in a frying pan and add the spinach. Cook for a few minutes until the leaves are wilted. Season with salt and pepper.
Remove the sweet potato from the oven and cut it in half lengthways. Scatter the tuna on top of both halves. Next, add the red onion and chilli (if using) on top of the tuna.
Cut the lime in half and generously squeeze the juice all over. Cut the remaining lime into slices. Garnish the dish with the fresh coriander and lime slices, and serve with the crème fraîche, black pepper, and the wilted spinach.
From Be The Fittest by Tyrone Brennand (£15, Quadrille), out now
Photography: © Martin Poole; © Matt Russell; © Ryland Peters & Small; Dan Jones; © Steven Joyce