These Recipes Show Why Sweet Potatoes Aren't Just For The Holidays

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Kathy's sweet potato chips. (Kathy Gunst for Here & Now)
Kathy's sweet potato chips. (Kathy Gunst for Here & Now)

Sweet potatoes are a big part of many a holiday meal. But Here & Now resident chef Kathy Gunst says that you can do so much more with them.

She brings Here & Now's Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson sweet potato chips, a puree and a chocolate cake made with a recipe from her friend and cookbook author Raghavan Iyer.

If you're looking for something a little more savory, Kathy also says that you can substitute sweet potatoes for the winter squash in the recipes from her September 2014 visit.

Kathy's Sweet Potato Recipes

Kathy's sweet potato puree with maple, ginger, nutmeg and apple cider. (Kathy Gunst for Here & Now)
Kathy's sweet potato puree with maple, ginger, nutmeg and apple cider. (Kathy Gunst for Here & Now)

Sweet Potato Puree With Maple, Ginger, Nutmeg And Apple Cider

Around the holidays there is so much cream and butter that appear in recipes. But this simple, straightforward puree — seasoned with apple cider, fresh ginger and spices — feels fresh and light.

You can serve it as is, or place in shallow, ovenproof gratin dish or skillet. If you use a dish or skillet, top the puree  with 1/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes or chips and 1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs, then heat at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes, or until hot and bubbling. Serves 6.


  • 4 large sweet potatoes, about 32 ounces, peeled and cubed
  • 2 tablespoons butter or coconut oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup apple cider
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Place the potatoes in a medium large pot. Cover with cold water and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat, cover slightly and cook about 10 to 12 minutes, or until tender when tested with a small sharp knife. Drain the potatoes thoroughly. Return to the pot and mash. Set aside.
  2. Melt the butter and olive oil in medium pot. Add the ginger and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the reserved mashed potatoes, the maple syrup, cider, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Stir and cook for about 4 to 5 minutes. Taste for seasoning.

Sweet Potato Chips

This time of year — with an abundance of rich, holiday foods — we search for healthy snacks. These baked sweet potato chips are the answer.

Colorful, sweet and baked with just a touch of oil, they make a great snack, dipping chip, topping for casseroles or soups, addition to salads and more.

Serve with the green tahini dip (recipe below), or your favorite dip. You can also serve with cocktails. This recipe works well with one sweet potato or 10.


  1. Peel sweet potatoes and slice very thinly. It’s important that all the slices be of equal thickness so the cooking time doesn’t vary.
  2. Place the potato slices on a cookie or baking sheet and very lightly brush with olive oil, and sprinkle with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  3. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Bake on middle shelf for 10 minutes. Remove. Gently turn the potato slices over, brush on more olive oil, salt and pepper. Bake another 8 to 12 minutes, or until crisp and cooked through and just beginning to brown on the edges. Remove and let cool to room temperature before serving. You can also sprinkle the chips on one side with any type of spice: a touch of ground cumin, mint, thyme or rosemary.
Kathy's green herb tahini dip for sweet potato chips. (Kathy Gunst for Here & Now)
Kathy's green herb tahini dip, with her sweet potato chips. (Kathy Gunst for Here & Now)

Green Herb Tahini Dip For Sweet Potato Chips

Tahini, or sesame paste, makes a delicious base for a dip. Here it’s seasoned with fresh parsley, cilantro and fresh mint. Serve with sweet potato chips (recipe above). Serves 4 to 6.


  • 3/4 tahini paste
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons fresh mint, or 2 teaspoons dried
  • Juice of 1 large lemon
  • About 1/2 cup cold water
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper


  1. Place all the ingredients in a food processor or blender. Whirl until smooth.
  2. Season to taste and add more water — about 1 to 2 tablespoons if it's too thick.
  3. Keep cool and cover for up to four or five days. Makes about 1 1/2 cups.
Raghavan Iyer's chocolate sweet potato cake. (Courtesy Matthew Benson)
Raghavan Iyer's chocolate sweet potato pound cake. (Courtesy Matthew Benson)

Chocolate Sweet Potato Pound Cake

By Raghavan Iyer

Lovely, moist, and chocolaty, the sweet potato and spices hint of fall and make this a sure crowd-pleaser that’s perfect for potlucks or buffets. This is an adaptation of Mary Evans’s recipe from her book "Vegetable Creations." She is a highly skilled teacher, a cooking school operator (she gave me my first chance at teaching 25 years back), a gifted author of multiple books, and a great baker as well. This recipe is a testimonial to her acumen.

The flavors emerge best when the cake is made a day before you plan on serving it. Serves 12.


  • 8 ounces deep orange sweet potatoes (such as Jewel)
  • Baking spray, for greasing the pan
  • 2 1/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarsely cracked black peppercorns
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse sea or kosher salt
  • 16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 3/4 cups white granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature


  1. Peel the sweet potatoes and give them a good rinse under cold running water. Cut them into small chunks. Place them in a small saucepan and cover them with cold water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Partially cover the pan, lower the heat to medium-low, and gently boil the potatoes until the pieces fall apart easily when pierced with a fork, 10 to 15 minutes.
  2. As the potatoes cook, position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F. Spray the inside of a 12-cup Bundt pan or tube pan with baking spray.
  3. Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, peppercorns, cinnamon, cloves, and salt into a medium-size bowl. Stir with a whisk to blend thoroughly, about 30 seconds.
  4. Once the sweet potatoes have finished cooking, drain them in a colander. Give the colander a good shake or two to get rid of excess water. Return the potatoes to the pan and mash them with a potato masher until smooth.
  5. Place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer and attach the whisk. On medium speed, beat the butter until it is very creamy, about 3 minutes. (If you don’t have a stand mixer, a handheld mixer will do the trick as well.) Sprinkle in the sugar and continue to beat on medium speed until very fluffy and pale, about 3 minutes. Beat in the vanilla until just blended. Add 1 egg and beat on low speed, just until combined, about 15 seconds. Add the remaining eggs, one at a time, beating on low speed just until combined, about 15 seconds per egg, scraping down the bowl after each addition. Still on low speed, add half of the flour mixture; beat only until just blended, 30 to 45 seconds, scraping the bowl halfway through.
  6. Add the sweet potatoes to the batter and beat again on low speed until just combined, about 15 seconds. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl. Add the remaining flour mixture and beat on low speed until just combined and smooth, scraping the bowl halfway through, 30 to 45 seconds.
  7. Spoon and scrape the batter into the prepared pan; smooth the top with a spatula and tap the pan on the counter to settle the batter.
  8. Bake until the top is firm to the touch and a skewer or knife inserted in the cake comes out clean, 55 to 65 minutes. The top of the cake will be rounded and cracked in the center, but that’s okay.
  9. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let the cake cool in the pan for about 10 minutes. Invert the pan and turn out the cake onto the rack to cool completely, 2 to 3 hours.
  10. Wrap the cake tightly in plastic wrap until you’re ready to serve.

Recipe from the book SMASHED, MASHED, BOILED, AND BAKED--AND FRIED TOO! by Raghavan Iyer. Copyright © 2016 by Raghavan Iyer. Republished with permission of Workman Publishing.


Kathy Gunst, resident chef for Here & Now and author of the book "Soup Swap." She is also the author of “Notes from a Maine Kitchen” and the video series “Simple Soups from Scratch.” She tweets @mainecook and is on Instagram @kathygunst. There's more information about book signings, classes and lectures at her Facebook page.

This segment aired on October 27, 2016.

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