In Season: Sweet Potatoes

Fall through winter

There are two kinds of sweet potatoes out there—one sort is commonly called a yam. Actually, in this country, yams are not even widely available. I feel kind of sorry about this tuber’s misnomer. It's like your name is Sue and all of your life, people have been calling you Mary instead.

While I like a steaming, ruddy-colored sweet potato pureed and mounded with butter and a little bit of brown sugar during the holidays, for a good portion of the rest of the season, I favor the milder, paler sibling of the sweet potato. These tubers are related; but most of the time the darker-colored version is favored. But I find its lighter cousin to be pleasantly sweet and starchier. These sweet potatoes are calling out to be cooked with warm spices.

I'm sure that by now, you've noticed my favorite cooking method in the fall and winter is roasting. It concentrates flavor; it is super healthy; and it adds a toasty element to dishes. This recipe uses warm spices—and by this I mean deep, sometimes smoky flavors that warm you up from the inside. Chili powder and cumin are the dried spices, while minced cilantro adds a fresh element.

Give this recipe a try; it may just have you craving sweet potatoes all season long!

Chili-Rubbed Sweet Potato Coins

1 to 1 1/4 pounds sweet potatoes, preferably pale, peeled and sliced into 1/4-inch pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
Salt, to taste
2 tablespoons cilantro, freshly minced

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a medium-size bowl, toss the sweet potatoes and the oil until the potatoes are well-coated in the oil. Add the chili powder and the cumin, and season well with salt. Toss well to evenly distribute the spices.

Pour the sweet potatoes on an ungreased baking sheet. The pan should be large enough so the sweet potatoes lie in a single layer. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until sweet potatoes look dry and toasty brown.

Remove from the oven, sprinkle with cilantro, toss gently and serve.

Adrienne Kane is a writer and photographer. She is the author of a memoir, Cooking and Screaming, and the food blog, nosheteria.com

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