Maybe I should’ve titled this post: “Ode to a Sweet Potato”, because I honestly think it’s one of my favourite veggies of all time. And coming from a true vegetable fan, that is saying something! A simple, cooked sweet potato is a nourishing and frugal base for all sorts of delicious meal ideas. So, let’s go discover a few ways you can top that sweet potato (AKA: yam) and make it an easy meal all in one happy little package.
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Finding CHEAP sweet potatoes
P.S. Depending on where you live, sweet potatoes or yams might be cheap OR very expensive. I find around here that the price can really vary depending on the time of year, so I definitely stock up when sweet potatoes are on sale. To find a sale, use a grocery flyer app like Flipp and simply search for ‘sweet poatoes’ or ‘yams.’ For instance, this week Safeway here in Canada (well, in Calgary for sure, where I live) has sweet potatoes for only $0.99/lb. That is a great deal, so I plan to buy about 4 large ones, and keep them stored to use over the coming weeks.
How to store sweet potatoes – How long do yams last?
This is an excellent question, fellow veggie lover! Sweet potatoes or yams can basically be stored for about 3 to 5 weeks in a cool location, somewhere away from direct sunlight. I also learned while researching this article that they can be stored in the fridge for 2-3 months!! So, I’m planning to do that option and see how long they really will last. To be honest, we love sweet potatoes so much that they’ll probably be consumed far before that time is up, but I’ll see how well it works for as long as we can hold out. Haha!
How to Cook a Sweet Potato in the Microwave
My favourite way to cook a sweet potato is in the microwave. But, you can totally also cook it in a traditional oven, it just takes a lot longer. Either way: pierce the sweet potato a number of times with either a sharp knife or a fork (be careful please!) In the microwave, cook in 4 minute increments, until done. The time it will take to completely cook will vary a lot depending on your microwave oven. You’ll know it’s done when you pierce it with a paring knife or fork and it yields completely, it no longer feels at all hard.
OR…cook it even faster by slicing the sweet potato into approximately 1-inch thick slices. Place all the slices in a microwave-safe cooking dish. (Pyrex is great for this!) Add a few tablespoons of water to the bottom of the dish to help the potato steam, and then cover the dish with either a microwave-safe lid or silicone lid or plastic wrap. Microwave in 4-minute increments until fully cooked through. I find that these sliced sweet potatoes cook in about 8-10 minutes, about half as long as the whole sweet potatoes. Then, just use the cooked slices to top in the following ways:
5 Ways to Top a Sweet Potato and Call it Dinner – 5 Meal Ideas
1. Top it with chili (My fave!)
You can add all sorts of additional toppings, like sour cream, grated cheese, chopped green onions or chives, hot sauce (obviously.) Get creative and make it a gourmet delight. And the varieties of chili you can use are endless too: homemade, canned vegetarian, canned chicken chili, etc.
2. Make it a breakfast yam – Egg it up
Different idea, right? Scrambled eggs on top, and a sprinkling of crumbled cooked bacon or chopped ham, or some sauteed peppers and onions. Cheese if you like (vegan cheeze works well too), and any kind of sauce you love on top. If you love ketchup on eggs, then just go for it! The sweet potato is a great vehicle for more than just dinner dishes. This one would be perfect for breakfast or brunch, or seriously any time of day!
3. Make it a burger-tato
Cook up some ground beef, chicken, turkey OR use a veggie ground round (that’s what I would do) and then add all the toppings you would enjoy on your favourite traditional burger. I’m talking shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes (or salsa to make it easier), a couple of slices of pickle, cheese. You can go so far as to add burger condiments too, or else just use the salsa as a condiment. You’ve got your burger and ‘fries’ all in one go!
4. Veggie Sweet Potato Delight with melted cheese
Steam up your favourite veggies – for some reason, I’m totally envisioning steamed broccoli for this, but you can cook up whatever your favourite is! Mash up the sweet potato a bit, right inside the skin, and then top with veggies and cheese. If you can’t do regular cheese, use a type of vegan cheese that melts well. (I’ve found Daiya cheese melts really well, it just takes longer than regular cheese to melt, that’s all. I like the 4-‘cheeze’ Mexican flavour variety the best.) Top with hot sauce if you like a touch of spice.
5. Sweet Potatoes with Chickpea Curry
Take any super simple chickpea curry recipe (this one by A Couple Cooks is easy and has coconut milk, which I love), and then top your sweet potato with that mixture. This is a nice, complete vegan meal all in one delicious sweet potato package. And, if you’re running short on time then just pick up a FROZEN vegan coconut chickpea curry and use that to top your yam. It won’t be as frugal, but it’ll taste insanely good all the same. Oh, and if you like coriander/cilantro like I do, then definitely chop up some and top your curry potato with it. It adds a lot of flavour and a nice splash of green at the same time.