Celebrate North Carolina’s official vegetable, the beloved sweet potato, this upcoming February by learning more about this nutritious and delicious crop, as well as a few quick and easy recipes. Think you know all there is to know about this delicious veggie? Read on for a few new facts.
The sweet potato is naturally high in fiber, making it important to leave the skin on. Another interesting fact about this crop is that sweet potatoes are roots, unlike regular potatoes which are underground stems. Many enjoy this crop because sweet potatoes can be eaten in many ways, including baked, steamed, boiled, mashed, microwaved, fried, pureed, raw or juiced. Not only are these vegetables delicious, they are also nutritious. They are high in beta-carotene, vitamins E and C, iron, potassium and vitamin B-6. Since the sweet potato is NC’s favorite vegetable, our state is the leading sweet potato producer in the United States. If all these facts have you now craving a dish featuring our state’s favorite veggie, why not learn a few new sweet potato recipes? Read on for three quick and easy recipes featuring our beloved crop!
Classic Sweet Potato Casserole
A Thanksgiving staple for many, the sweet potato casserole is surely a dish that all can enjoy year-round. Try this one for a twist on the classic casserole.
4 cups sweet potatoes (cubed); ½ cup of sugar; 2 eggs, beaten; ½ teaspoon salt; 7 Tablespoons butter; ½ cup milk; ½ teaspoon vanilla extract; ½ cup brown sugar; 1/3 cup all-purpose flour; ½ cup chopped pecans.
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Put sweet potatoes in a medium saucepan with water to cover. Cook over medium high heat until tender; drain and mash.
- In a large bowl, mix the sweet potatoes, white sugar, eggs, salt, butter, milk and vanilla extract. Mix until smooth. Transfer to a 9″x13″ baking dish.
- In medium bowl, mix the brown sugar and flour. Cut in the butter until the mixture is coarse. Stir in the pecans. Sprinkle the mixture over the sweet potato mixture.
- Bake in the preheated oven 30 minutes, or until the topping is lightly brown.
Sweet Potato Lasagna
Try this twist on the classic lasagna recipe. Not only will you enjoy the new flavor, it will also cut those calories you usually have with regular lasagna in half!
Cooking spray; 3 large sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/8″-thick (about 2 lb.); 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil; I large onion, chopped; 2 cloves garlic, minced; I lb. sweet Italian sausage, casings removed; Kosher salt; freshly ground black pepper; 2 c. marinara; I (5 oz.) package baby spinach; 16 oz. ricotta; 1 large egg, beaten; ¾ c. freshly grated Parmesan, divided; 1 tsp. dried oregano; 1½ C. shredded mozzarella; freshly chopped parsley, for garnish.
- Preheat oven to 375° and grease a 9″x13″ baking pan with cooking spray. In a large skillet over medium heat, heat oil. Add onion and cook until soft, 5 minutes then add garlic and cook until fragrant, 1 minute more. Add sausage and cook, breaking up meat with a wooden spoon, until no longer pink, about 6 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
- Pour in marinara sauce and bring to a simmer. Cook until sauce thickens slightly, 5 minutes. Add spinach and cook until spinach is wilted. Remove from heat.
- In a large bowl, stir together ricotta, egg, ½ cup Parmesan, and oregano. Season with salt and pepper.
- Spread a thin layer of marinara mixture evenly across the bottom of prepared dish. Layer sweet potatoes on top of sauce, slightly overlapping. Spread about ⅓ of ricotta mixture over sweet potatoes, then pour ⅓ of remaining meat sauce on top. Repeat to make two more layers. Top lasagna with mozzarella and remaining ¼ cup Parmesan.
- Cover with aluminum foil and bake until sweet potatoes are almost cooked through, about 45 minutes, then remove foil and bake until sweet potatoes are fork-tender and cheese is lightly golden, 15 minutes more.
- Garnish with parsley and let sit to cool.
Sweet Potato Chili
Warm up on those cold February days with this delicious chili recipe!
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil; 1 medium onion, chopped; 1 bell pepper, chopped; 3 cloves garlic, minced; 1 Tbsp. tomato paste; 1 lb. Italian sausage; 1 Tbsp. chili powder; 1 tsp. dried oregano; ½ tsp. garlic powder; ¼ tsp. cayenne; Kosher salt; freshly ground black pepper; 4 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed into 1″ pieces; 3 c. low-sodium chicken broth; 1(14.5-oz.) can diced tomatoes; freshly chopped parsley, for garnish
- Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion and bell pepper and cook until soft, 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, 1 minute more, then add tomato paste and stir until well coated. Add sausage and cook, breaking up meat with a wooden spoon until no longer pink, 7 minutes. Add chili powder, oregano, garlic powder, and cayenne. Season with salt and pepper.
- Add sweet potatoes, broth, and tomatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer, covered, until sweet potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.
- Garnish with parsley before serving.
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