Sweet potatoes have taken an interesting turn in their uses over the last couple of decades. When I was a small child, I remember sweet potatoes being served one way and one way only. There was some slight variation, but it was always baked with butter, brown sugar, and sometimes pecans or marshmallows. This could be in the form of a baked sweet potato, or peeled and moved into a casserole format. Then came the low carb movement.
Ever since the initial rise of the Atkins diet, and many subsequent low carb diets and approaches to nutrition, people seem to be increasingly creative with sweet potatoes. They make a reasonable substitute for the more starchy white potato in a number of recipes. They also have a great flavor of their own. Turns out, that flavor pairs well with far more than just butter, sugar, and nuts. I have found I actually like sweet potatoes more in savory dishes than in sweet ones. My growing favorite is with thyme and rosemary. Roasted garlic is a close second. Brown butter and sage rounds out my personal top three. Turns out, my great aunt’s marshmallow topped sweet potato casserole doesn’t even make it into my top five.
When it comes down to it, the savory, herb flavored sweet potatoes get all my love. I really prefer fresh herbs in most cases. Rosemary and thyme are both strong enough flavors that they still work well as a dried herb, but I feel like sometimes you lose something with dried. If you have an even moderately sunny window that you can stick a couple of plants in, I highly recommend keeping a few culinary herbs growing there. Rosemary can be a little finicky, but even if you have a black thumb, thyme, parsley, cilantro, and most mints are remarkably difficult to kill. The little bit of work is worth the ability to pull off a sprig as needed without needing to pay several dollars for a few leaves at the grocery store.
Mashed Sweet Potatoes With Thyme and Rosemary
- 2 whole sweet potatoes
- 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1 sprig thyme (fresh)
- 1 sprig rosemary (fresh)
- 1 tbsp butter (optional)
Peel and dice sweet potatoes into 1 inch cubes. Strip rosemary leaves from stems, and finely mince herbs.
Place potato pieces, salt, and herbs in a sauce pan and add stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce to medium heat. Simmer until potato is all very soft. This should take roughly 20 minutes.
Remove potatoes from heat, allowing them to cool slightly.
When just cool enough to handle, smash potatoes by pressing them against sides of stock pot with a wooden spoon, or using a potato masher if you have one. Stir periodically, then repeat until no notable chunks of sweet potato remain.
Top with butter to serve, if desired.