When I was little, I’d always beg my mom to make sweet potatoes for dinner. Mainly because I hoped with all my heart that there was a chance she’d make Thanksgiving’s marshmallow-topped casserole (there wasn’t). But even without the caramelized top, sweet potatoes felt like candy we were allowed—nay, encouraged!—to eat. “They’re full of nutrients!” Mom would say as she mashed the warm orange flesh with butter, salt, and pepper. “Nutrients!” my sister and I echoed, mouths watering.
To this day, I’m excited to plan my meals around their sweet-savory goodness. From soups and smoothies to soufflés—versatile, nutrient-rich sweet potatoes can do it all. Which is exactly why in these dark, cold days of winter, I’m leaning hard and heavy into sweet potato–centered meals.
In fact, I’m ready to show you how we can power through a week's worth of different meals with the help of just five sweet potatoes. So grab your sweeties, and let’s get cooking:
Here’s The Plan
First, Cook Your Sweet Potatoes
We’re going to use two cooking techniques for our five (large!) sweet potatoes this week: boiled and roasted.
We’ll start with simple boiling. Just bring a large pot of salted water to a bubble, then add three of your sweet potatoes and boil for 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork.
For roasting your remaining two potatoes, I’m a fan of vegetable-whisperer Gena Hamshaw’s method. The coconut oil holds up beautifully to high temperatures and enhances the potatoes’ natural sweetness. But if you’re in a whole-roasting mood, simply heat oven to 400°F, pierce each sweet potato several times with the tines of a fork, then place them on a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil. Bake those babies until they’re nice and tender, about 45 minutes.
Your favorite spices, like cumin, curry, or ginger
Finally, Put It All Together
Gnocchi:Posie Brien introduced us to this laughably simple method. With one of your boiled potatoes, scoop out the flesh and add it to a large bowl with ricotta, Parmesan, and salt and mix until smooth. Then, add flour a little at a time, stirring and kneading until the dough just comes together. From there, divide and roll your pasta, and cook in boiling saltwater for about 3 minutes. Serve hot with a drizzle of olive oil.
Cake: Nope, not the sweet kind. Instead, we’re adapting this recipe from CheapBeets. Take another of those boiled potatoes, mash it, and combine with canned salmon, bread crumbs, eggs, lemon juice, and a homemade mayo (with your hands is best). Form 1/4-cup patties and fry in skillet over medium heat for approximately 5 minutes per side. If you have Greek yogurt around, add a dollop or two for some tang.
Waffles: Who doesn’t love breakfast for dinner? Puree that last boiled sweet potato and whisk together with melted butter, eggs, and milk. Then, in a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, powder, salt, and sugar, and add to wet ingredients until smooth. Spoon that batter onto the griddle, and be rewarded with browned, crispy perfection.
A hearty salad:Black beans and sweet potatoes are a match made in lunch-box heaven. Toss cubes of half a roasted potato with a can of black beans, half a diced bell pepper and red onion, cilantro, and a drizzle of olive oil. Bam! A salad to handle the jolts and jostles of your commute.
Hash: Uncomplicated and unfussy, hash is a great way to transform sweet potatoes into dinner. Drizzle a thin layer of olive oil in an oven-proof, heavy skillet and heat to medium-high on the stove, then toss in diced onion and half of a roasted sweet potato, and sauté until warmed through. After, add your greens and the other half of your bell pepper; season. Turn down the heat to medium and sizzle until everything is cooked through and caramelized, then make indentations for your eggs. Crack an egg into each hole and place the skillet into a moderately hot oven, about 350°F to cook the eggs until just set. Once cooked through, sprinkle everything with a healthy handful of feta.
Puréed Soup: To end the week with a nice warming soup, sauté diced onions until translucent, then add that remaining sweet potato. Season with salt, pepper, and your favorite spice, then pour enough water (or stock, if you have it!) to cover the vegetables. Simmer until tender, then blend with an immersion blender, and fortify with a splash of milk. Soup’s on!
A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).