Looking for an easy side dish for your next food-centric soiree or a simple single-serve meal that requires minimal work? NICBC student Ali McGowan’s recipe brings fall comfort to every eating style at the table.
A time to gather, a time to grub—from Thanksgiving to semester-end celebrations, November is filled with food-centric events. But why wait for your next autumnal affair to savor the season’s best flavors? These stuffed sweet potatoes are simple, delicious and adaptable to any dietary preference.
But before you make your shopping list or preheat your oven, what’s the difference between sweet potatoes and yams, and which should you choose for this recipe?
Often marketed interchangeably, yams and sweet potatoes are actually different types of tubers. Yams have a starchier texture and require longer cooking times and a bit more fat (think butter, cream or coconut oil) to make them tasty. Sweet potatoes, on the other hand, boast smaller sizes and thinner skins; two characteristics that allow them achieve a creamy consistency without much fat. While each differs slightly in nutrition composition, all varieties are rich in vitamin A, carotenoids and dietary fiber: three things you can feel good about digging into!
While the typical supermarket stocks a handful of yam varieties—like Beauregard, Jewel or Red Garnet—New England markets boast a plethora of other options, too. Feast on Japanese Yams; identifiable with their bright purple skin and sweet, semi-syrupy golden flesh; or their slender sister, the Hannah Yam; different with its golden white skin and somewhat drier texture. Or, grab your favorite Stokes Purple Sweet Potato while you can; a unique variety with deep purple skin and rich magenta flesh that yields an Earthy, pistachio-like flavor when cooked.
Most recipes advise baking tubers at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 40 to 50 minutes. With the exception of the Stokes Purple Sweet Potato (which may take an additional 5 to 10 minutes compared to your average Beauregard), cooking times vary based mainly on size rather than type. Whether you’re digging into a Japanese yam or North American sweet potato, use shorter cooking times between 40 to 45 minutes for small tubers (about the length of your wrist to your first knuckle) and longer cooking times between 50 minutes to an hour for larger options. How do you know when you’ve reached the perfect consistency? Natural sugars will start to bubble from your tuber and a fork will easily pierce the skin, not to mention your kitchen will smell amazing.
This recipe features Stokes Purple Sweet Potatoes—my favorite tuber and one that I take advantage of while they’re stocked at Whole Foods or my local farmers market—but any of the aforementioned versions work well, too!
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 50 minutes
Cool time: 5 minutes
Total time: 1 hour & 5 minutes
- 4 medium Stokes Purple Sweet Potatoes (or your favorite variety)
- 1 pound Brussels sprouts, cut into fourths
- 4-5 strips of high-quality bacon, chopped into 1” pieces (optional)
- ¼ cup whole, unsweetened cranberries (fresh or frozen)
- ¼ cup chopped pecans (or your favorite nut)
- 1 Tbs. olive oil
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp ground black pepper
- Cinnamon to taste
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or aluminum foil.
- Scrub sweet potatoes with a vegetable brush and pat dry with a paper towel. Using a fork, poke holes throughout each potato and place on baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes.
- While the sweet potatoes are baking, add the quartered Brussels sprouts and chopped bacon to a bowl. Add cranberries, nuts, oil, salt and pepper and mix well. Disperse mixture on the second baking sheet.
- After the potatoes have cooked for 30 minutes, add the Brussels sprouts mixture to the oven and cook both the potatoes and the Brussels sprouts mixture for an additional 20 minutes. (After 50 minutes, a fork should easily pierce the skin and flesh of the potatoes. The holes in your potatoes may also bubble with natural sugars.)
- After 20 minutes, remove both baking sheets from oven and let cool for 5 minutes.
- Cut sweet potatoes open lengthwise. Fill with Brussels sprouts mixture. Sprinkle sweet potatoes with cinnamon (optional) and enjoy!
Ali McGowan is an aspiring Registered Dietitian and a first-year graduate student in the Nutrition, Interventions, Communications, and Behavior Change Program at The Friedman School. A fitness enthusiast and frequent obstacle course racer, Ali comes to Tufts with a professional background in public relations, social media, and content marketing, and has assisted with the communications for Fortune-500 companies, including CVS and Hasbro, Inc.
Photo caption for stokes purple potato and japanese yam comparison
While they may look identical on the outside, Stokes Purple Sweet Potatoes (left) are denser and yield an Earthy, pistachio-like flavor when cooked, while Japanese Sweet Potatoes (right) are sweeter and slightly syrupy. BOTH are delicious!