Sweet potatoes, yams? What’s the difference? The two are quite different but in North America we often refer to the sweet potato as a yam and vice versa. Both are tuberous root vegetables but they come from completely different plant families.
The sweet potato, which most of us are familiar with is a tuberous root vegetable that is available in a variety of colours including red, orange and yellow. Sweet potatoes are from the Convolvulaceae family and very distant from both the potato and yam. True yams belong to the Dioscorea family, are starchier and drier than sweet potatoes, have a rough brown skin and are not very common in our regular grocery stores. What grocers refer to as “yams” are usually the softer sweet potatoes with a copper skin and orange flesh. In a nut shell, if a recipe is calling for a yam, and the tag at the supermarket says yam they’re most likely referring to a specific sweet potato. So unless you are indeed looking specifically for a true yam, go ahead and use the sweet potatoes we call yams!
Sweet potatoes are starchy, sweet and delicious roasted, mashed, or blended into a wonderful soup. Today’s recipe calls for roasting the sweet potato which brings out the natural sweetness and adds a nutty taste. The zingy, slightly sautéed vegetables add a little brightness to the soft mild tasting sweet potato, creating a unique pairing. This salad would be nice with most roasted meats or on its own for a healthy lunch.
- 1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes red or orange preferably
- 4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 each shallot
- 1/2 each red bell pepper
- 1 jalapeño pepper
- 1/3 cup cilantro coarsely chopped
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 1/2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
- sea salt to taste
- black pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 400℉. Peel and cut sweet potato into 1/2 inch dice. Toss with 2 Tbsp olive oil, pepper and salt. Spread out in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast for 10 minutes, turn sweet potatoes and roast for an additional 12- 15 minutes until tender. Remove and allow to cool to warm or room temperature.
- Peel and cut shallot into thin slices. Remove seeds and stem from bell pepper and jalapeño pepper, cut into thin slices. Heat a medium size skillet over medium heat and add 1 Tbsp olive oil. Add shallots and sauté for 2-3 minutes, add bell pepper and jalapeño pepper and continue cooking for 3 minutes or until just starting to soften. Mix rice wine vinegar with sugar and add to vegetables, stir to combine and cook for 1 minute. Add green onions and stir to combine. Remove from heat and add mixture to roasted sweet potatoes. Stir in cilantro and season to taste with salt and pepper. Best served slightly warm but can be served at room temperature.
Recipe Source: Adapted from, Epicurious Roasted Sweet Potato Salad with Red Bell Pepper