Long regarded as a food crop for southeners, sweet potatoes can be grown in any location that receives at least four months of warm, sunny weather. Sweet potatoes are a relative to the morning glory and the ornamental sweet potato vine. Some gardeners even grow sweet potatoes as an annual ground cover.
But rather than relegate their use strictly for gardening purposes, sweet potatoes are common ingredients in many recipes, especially around the holidays. They are a good source of vitamin A and contain some vitamin C. Sweet potatoes range in color from light yellow to deep orange.
People often confuse yams and sweet potatoes, but there is one salient characteristic that sets them apart. A yam is an entirely different plant species that is grown only in the tropics. Its underground tubers are larger than sweet potatoes and yams tend to contain much more starch than sweet potatoes.
Rather than wait for Thanksgiving or Christmas to enjoy sweet potatoes, home cooks can use these tubers in a creative alternative to traditional white-potato salad. In the recipe below, we replaced the familiar white potatoes with sweet potatoes to create a salad that is slightly unusual but delicious.
Sweet Potato Salad
Makes 4 to 6 servings
- 5 cups water
- 1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes
- 2 medium stalks (about 1 cup) celery, thinly sliced
- 1 small white onion, thinly sliced
- 1 medium navel orange, peeled and sectioned
- 1 cup homemade or commercially-prepared mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
- 1 teaspoon dry yellow mustard powder
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest
- 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
- Lettuce leaves, for serving
- In a large saucepan, bring the water to a boil over medium-high heat. Once the water comes to a boil, add the potatoes. Bring the water back to a boil; reduce the heat. Cover the saucepan and simmer the potatoes until they are tender when pierced with the point of a knife, about 35 to 40 minutes.
- Drain potatoes and set aside until cool enough to handle. Slip off the skins from the potatoes. Cut potatoes into 1/2-inch cubes. Transfer cubed potatoes to a large mixing bowl. Add celery, onion and orange sections. In a separate medium mixing bowl, combine the mayonnaise, orange juice, mustard powder, orange zest, salt, pepper and ginger. Combine the wet ingredients with the vegetables and stir to combine the dressing with the vegetables. Refrigerate potato salad at least 2 hours before serving.
- To serve, line a large salad bowl with lettuce leaves. Mound potato salad in bowl and serve.