Sweet potatoes have earned their keep in my cabinet.
Even though neither of my kids will eat them, I like to put sweet potatoes in just about everything. From smoothies and granola to chili and biscuits, sweet potatoes add an earthy sweetness that's just right for the fall and winter months. It's been too hot to bake sweet potato fries, but even on these warm October afternoons, you could make a batch without heating the kitchen by using a countertop air fryer.
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Earlier this year, we ran Peter Tsai's recipe for air fryer sweet fries, which he's been perfecting for awhile. His seasoning mixture will work no matter how you prepare your fries: 1/4 teaspoon paprika, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper and 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder. I still don't have a fryer, but I'll be baking, roasting and Instant Pot-ing plenty of tubers this fall.
These weeknight-friendly recipes — two takes on tacos and a spin on baked or grilled sweet potatoes — will make good leftovers for lunches or second dinners. You could always double the filling recipes for the tacos and freeze the extra for even easier dinners later this year.
Baked Sweet Potato Taquitos
These kid-friendly baked taquitos are from the popular "100 Days of Real Food" blogger and author Lisa Leake. Her kids go nuts for this variation of sweet potato tacos. Cooking them at high heat in the oven will make the outsides crispy, especially if you spray them with cooking spray. As a filling for soft tacos, you would want to add cabbage, sliced onions or other crunchy toppings. You can freeze any extra taquitos and reheat them in the toaster oven.
— Addie Broyles
1 small to medium sweet potato (8 to 12 ounces), unpeeled
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup water
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup frozen corn kernels (no need to thaw)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (about 5 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese
20 to 22 whole-grain corn tortillas
For serving: Sour cream and cilantro
Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a 13-inch-by-18-inch baking sheet with parchment paper.
Using a food processor with a shredding disk, grate the unpeeled potato into small shreds (or use a hand grater).
In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Stir in the sweet potato and cook until it begins to turn golden brown, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add water, cover the pan and steam until the potatoes are tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Uncover and stir in the beans, corn, cumin, salt and cheese. Remove from the heat.
Warm the tortillas by heating them on a cast-iron comal or wrapping them in a damp paper towel and heating them for 30 seconds or so in the microwave. Add a spoonful of filling to a tortilla, carefully roll it up and place it seam side down on the baking sheet. Repeat to make the rest of the taquitos.
Bake until the taquitos are golden brown and crisp on the edges, 15 to 20 minutes. Serve warm with sour cream and cilantro. Serves 5 or 6.
— From "100 Days of Real Food on a Budget: Simple Tips and Tasty Recipes to Help You Cut Out Processed Food Without Breaking the Bank" by Lisa Leake (William Morrow, $29.99)
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Eddie Hernandez won a cooking contest once with these ground beef tacos that also include sweet potatoes. It's a very different dish than Leake's taquitos. Hernandez is the chef behind Taqueria del Sol, a popular Southern restaurant in Atlanta that showcases his Mexican food influences. In his book, "Turnip Greens & Tortillas: A Mexican Chef Spices Up the Southern Kitchen," the Monterrey native compares this taco filling to picadillo, a well-known dish in Mexico, Cuba and other parts of Latin America. Picadillo usually contains some kind of dried fruit, such as raisins, but Hernandez's version is sweetened with sweet potatoes that have been sauteed in butter alongside the ground beef. Like a true chef, he calls for both butter and ground chuck, so home cooks might prefer to use a leaner beef or cut back on the butter. Don't eliminate the butter altogether, though. It pairs well with the sweet potatoes, which add color, fiber and vitamins to the final filling. He serves these tacos with a roasted tomatillo sauce or a red salsa.
— Addie Broyles
3 cups peeled, 1/2-inch-diced sweet potatoes
2 tablespoons salt
4 tablespoons butter
2 pounds ground chuck
1 tablespoon ground chile de árbol or cayenne pepper
1 cup diced onions
1½ teaspoons ground black pepper
1½ teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
2 cups diced tomatoes
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
24 (6-inch) flour tortillas
1 cup grated white American cheese
3 cups tomatillo sauce
Place the diced sweet potatoes in a medium saucepan, cover with 4 cups of water and set over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of the salt and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for about 5 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender but not mushy. Drain in a colander and rinse with cold water.
Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the beef and cook, stirring occasionally, until just cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the sweet potatoes and chile de árbol and cook for 2 minutes. Add the onions, black pepper, oregano and basil and cook for 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes, cook for 2 minutes, then add the remaining tablespoon salt and the cilantro. Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes to meld the flavors.
Set a dry skillet over medium-high heat. Add a tortilla and heat on both sides for a minute or two, until a few dark spots appear. Remove to a plate and place 3 to 4 tablespoons of beef mixture in the center of the tortilla. Add a sprinkle of cheese, 1 tablespoon tomatillo sauce, and fold. Repeat with the remaining tortillas. Makes 24 tacos.
— From "Turnip Greens & Tortillas: A Mexican Chef Spices Up the Southern Kitchen" by Eddie Hernandez and Susan Puckett (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $30)
Stuffed Sweet Potatoes with Cashew Aioli and Alfalfa Sprouts
Vegan aioli and other nut-based sauces aren't that complicated to make if you have a food processor or blender, and they can transform an everyday food like a baked sweet potato or sauteed vegetables. I love the taste of sweet potato, lime and cilantro, which are the base flavors of this stuffed sweet potato dish from "VBQ ― The Ultimate Vegan Barbecue Cookbook: Over 80 Recipes ― Seared, Skewered, Smoking Hot!" (The Experiment, $19.95). To add a creamy element, authors Nadine Horn and Jörg Mayer include a recipe for cashew aioli, a garlicky sauce made without oil, mayo or dairy that could amp up all kinds of sandwiches, pastas or sauteed or grilled food.
— Addie Broyles
For the cashew aioli:
1 1/2 cups cashews
3 garlic cloves
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon prepared mustard
For the potatoes:
4 sweet potatoes
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 handful alfalfa sprouts
1/2 bunch cilantro
Soak the cashews overnight in plenty of water. Drain and rinse well under running water.
Heat a grill or an oven to 400 degrees. Prick the sweet potatoes all over with a fork. Coat them with salt and oil and wrap them in parchment paper or aluminum foil. Bake the sweet potatoes on a sheet pan or over indirect heat on the grill with the lid closed for 30 to 45 minutes or until tender. (You could also pressure cook them with about a cup of water in a multicooker on high for 15 minutes.)
To make the cashew aioli, combine the cashews, garlic, vinegar, salt and mustard in a blender or food processor. Add 3/4 cup water and puree until smooth.
To serve, slice the sweet potatoes in half or down the middle and pinch the sides to open and fill with sprouts, cilantro and the aioli.
— From "VBQ ― The Ultimate Vegan Barbecue Cookbook: Over 80 Recipes ― Seared, Skewered, Smoking Hot!" by Nadine Horn and Jörg Mayer (The Experiment, $19.95)