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Sweet Potato Recipes for Thanksgiving

Side Dishes with Sweet Potatoes

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With Thanksgiving just around the corner, now is the time to start planning your holiday menu. More than any holiday, Thanksgiving brings to mind the comforting aroma and flavors of traditional foods, such as turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, pie and candied sweet potatoes. While sweet potatoes aren’t a staple to Middle Eastern tradition, there are ways to easily incorporate them into your holiday meal by adding to them some Middle Eastern flavor and flair. Sweet potatoes are a versatile vegetable and can be used in many ways. Their color and flavor brings a unique approach to dishes when substituting them for yellow or baking potatoes. When a dish is created to simply focus on the sweet potato itself, this is when the vegetable really shines. Thanksgiving is the perfect time to do just that.

Is It a Sweet Potato or Yam?

As easy as it may seem to grab a bag of sweet potatoes in your local market and get cooking, you may be a little confused if you see something that looks like a sweet potato labeled in your store as a yam. Is a yam and a sweet potato the same thing? Today, it is. Although there are some botanical differences that actually put them into two different families, the sweet potatoes, or yams, you see in your grocery store are the same vegetable.

Historically, yams, which are grown in Africa, tend to be starchier and softer, while sweet potatoes are less starchy and firmer. If you were to go to an international market, chances are you would be able to find a true yam, but those found in grocery stores across the country - whether they be called a yam or a sweet potato - will almost always be the traditional sweet potato served most often on Thanksgiving.

Tips for Buying Sweet Potatoes

When purchasing sweet potatoes, be sure to look out for ones that are firm and free of any major blemishes. These will tend to last longer than ones that have been damaged. Once purchased, keep in a cool, dry area of your home, preferably in a cardboard box and not in plastic. An ideal temperature would be below 60 degrees. If kept in warmer temperatures, sweet potatoes may only last about a week, compared to a month in cooler temps.

Middle Eastern Sweet Potato Recipes

Now that you’ve purchased your sweet potatoes and have them on hand, you’re ready to begin choosing a recipe or two to incorporate them into your Thanksgiving menu. Although you can prepare traditional candied sweet potatoes, it’s just as easy, if not easier, to give them a Middle Eastern twist and carry on, or create, your own traditional dishes. If you’re looking for some delicious Middle Eastern uses for sweet potatoes, then look no further!

Sweet Potato Hummus: This recipe allows a traditional Middle Eastern dish to be flavored with a true Thanksgiving tradition - candied sweet potatoes. The addition of sweet potatoes and brown sugar to regular hummus livens up the dip to compete with the best of Thanksgiving appetizers. Mashed Sweet Potatoes: Instead of standard mashed potatoes, try mashed sweet potatoes! Not only will they lend some amazing flavor to your meal, but they’ll add to the ambiance with their orange color, popular during the Autumn months. Sweet Potatoes with Pomegranate Glaze:Sweet potatoes with a pomegranate glaze are prepared similarly to candied sweet potatoes, but this recipe will give you a completely different flavor. While brown sugar is used, the flavor of the pomegranate really stands out and turns and ordinary dish into something extraordinary.

Looking for Something More Traditional?

  If you would like to stick to more traditional American sweet potato recipes, be sure to check out these delicious dishes from other About.com food guides! No matter how you prepare them, sweet potatoes are practically an essential part of your holiday table.

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