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Despite their names being often interchanged for one another, sweet potatoes and yams are not the same thing. In fact, they aren't even closely related vegetables! Telling them apart can be a little challenging, but if you are in an American market, chances are very good that what you are looking at in the produce department are sweet potatoes. Yams are very rare in the United States since they are not grown here and they must be imported from the Caribbean.
Those that think that sweet potatoes are to be saved for a sweet casserole served on Thanksgiving and not otherwise are really missing out! They are nutritional powerhouses -- one sweet potato contains only about 140 calories yet has twice the daily allowance of vitamin A and is high in vitamin C, calcium, iron, and fiber. To pick the healthiest ones, look for a deep orange color that is free of visible damage and store them unrefrigerated in a cool, dry place.
The natural sweetness in sweet potatoes is intensified by baking or roasting and those methods tend to be my favorite ways to use them. In fact, when they are in season, I like to get a bunch, clean them, prick some holes in them and bake them until they are slightly soft. Then whatever I don't use within a week gets wrapped, unpeeled, in foil and put in labeled freezer bags. Since sweet potatoes freeze beautifully, I have a quick supply on hand for my favorite recipes!
Since leftover turkey and roasted sweet potatoes are likely to be on hand near the end of the month, I thought I'd share a recipe that takes advantage of both. This simple salad is a favorite of mine for the day after Thanksgiving. With all kinds of shopping going on (it's a bit of a tradition), it's nice to come home and throw a healthy meal together that takes advantage of the items at hand and keeps things much lighter than the feast from the prior day. Have a Happy Thanksgiving and enjoy experimenting with sweet potatoes!
To dress up this simple main dish salad, consider adding some warm sourdough rolls and a crisp, white wine. You'll have the elegance you crave without a lot of fuss or calories!
3 T. red currant jelly
1/2 c. chicken broth
1 T. lemon juice
1 T. olive oil
1/2 tsp. dried rosemary, crushed
1/4 tsp. coarse salt
3 c. shredded, cooked turkey
2 c. cooked, cubed sweet potato
1 c. frozen corn kernels, thawed
2 green onions, thinly sliced
8 large lettuce leaves (choose your favorite variety)
To make the dressing, combine the jelly and broth in a small saucepan over medium heat. Whisk gently until the jelly has melted. Add the lemon juice, oil, rosemary and salt and whisk to combine. Remove from the heat.
In a large bowl, combine the turkey, sweet potato, corn and green onions. Pour the dressing over the mixture and toss until well coated. Place two lettuce leaves on each serving plate and spoon the salad over the leaves. Serve immediately.