Once upon a time in a vegetable patch far far away, a pumpkin fell in love with a potato. Their eyes met across a crowded plot and after a sweepingly romantic courtship amidst the tubers and the squash, they got married and started a happy little Plantae family.
And that, boys and girls, is how we came to have sweet potato.
Okay, so the story isn’t at all scientifically sensible or even morphologically accurate, but it’s as good an explanation as any as to how sweet potatoes manage to combine the best elements of two wonderful vegetables: the caramel-toned taste, gently yielding yet toothsome texture and brilliant orange hue could only be a result of true love.
We never grew up eating sweet potato. I vividly remember my sister cooking them for us once, baked whole in the oven with cinnamon sugar and butter, which was sadly far too sophisticated for my twelve-year-old tastebuds. I didn’t like them, didn’t understand how they could be starchy-but-not-really and sweet-but-not-really, and it all seemed to me to be a rather confusing, unwelcome distraction from my love of potatoes.
So I have a lot – a lot – of catching up to do.
And yes, it is really pushing it to call this a recipe, but it’s how I finally came to understand sweet potatoes in all their glory. I like to enhance the sweetness of the potato with brown sugar, and the savouriness with smoked paprika. If I want to go crazy with the complexity of flavours, I’ll finish it off with a sprinkling of sea salt before serving to create a sweet-salty-savoury mouthful, slightly crispy on the outside and soft on the inside – the perfect accompaniment to pulled pork and coleslaw.
And they all lived happily ever after.
Baked sweet potato wedges
1kg sweet potatoes, cut into wedges
1 tbsp oil
1 tbsp brown or muscovado sugar
1 tsp smoked paprika
Toss the wedges in the oil, sugar and paprika.
Bake the wedges at 200C for 45 minutes-1 hour, until golden and the edges turn crisp.