Sweet Potatoes

My relationship to cooking changed a lot over the last year. I am decidedly less interested in projects and more interested in quick routes to dinner. Basically, I am a mom blogger now.*

Samin Nosrat wrote about the sweet potatoes pictured above in the Times, but the recipe is from Carla Lalli Music’s beautiful cookbook, Where Cooking Begins. For most of my adult life I avoided sweet potatoes because they were, well, sweet. And too often people would play that up with brown sugar, or most horrifyingly, marshmallows. At some point along the way I just decided I didn’t like them. But recently I have learned that really I love them, I just need to fight against their natural tendencies (this is a bad lesson for life maybe?!). So I have been cooking them a lot, and am excited about this newly blossoming relationship. Mostly they have been diced and tossed with olive oil, paprika, garlic powder, and lots of salt, thrown on a roasting tin and baked hot. A batch made on Sunday will find its way into quesadillas, and rice bowls throughout the week.

But then Samin suggested steaming, a great technique for this time of year when the temperatures are rising and the thought of turning on the oven can really bum me out. After trying it, I am here to say that steaming things is cool and maybe we should all be doing it more often (see also: poaching). But really the star of this show is the tahini butter, a thing of great beauty that is the perfect foil for the sweet sweet potato. The tahini butter is also good on grilled chicken or tofu or toss with noodles, or just eaten by the fingerful. It is very, very good.

Sweet Potatoes with Tahini Butter (recipe adapted from Where Cooking Begins by Carla Lalli Music via NYTimes)

  • 2 ½ pounds sweet potatoes of any color (about 4 medium), washed-I used 2 jumbo and cut them in half lengthwise before steaming
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter (3/4 stick), at room temperature
  • ¼ cup well-stirred tahini
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice, plus lime wedges, for serving
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 clove garlic, finely grated
  •  Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons white sesame seeds
  •  Flaky sea salt, for serving

Bring a few inches of water to a boil in a medium pot fitted with a steamer basket or footed colander. Place sweet potatoes in the steamer. Cover, reduce heat to medium and steam until potatoes are completely tender, 35 to 40 minutes. (Use a skewer or paring knife to check for doneness; the potatoes should be soft all the way through.)

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk butter, tahini, lime juice, soy sauce, sesame oil and garlic until smooth. It might seem as if the butter and liquids will never fully combine, but they will — just keep stirring! Taste, and adjust seasoning with salt, pepper and more lime juice as needed.

Set a small pan over medium heat. Toast the sesame seeds, swirling the pan continuously, until seeds are golden. They’ll give off some oil and start to clump together, so if needed, stir with a wooden spoon to keep them moving so that they toast evenly. They’ll turn a nice deep-golden shade just as they dry off a bit, about 4 minutes. Transfer seeds to a small bowl to prevent them from overcooking.

When the sweet potatoes are tender, use tongs to transfer them to a large plate or platter. When they are just cool enough to handle, split potatoes in half lengthwise, and season with flaky salt. Spread tahini butter generously onto the flesh, and top with sesame seeds. Serve immediately with lime wedges and a giant green salad.

*I wish. I love mom bloggers.

9 comments to “Sweet Potatoes”

  1. i’ve been doing something similar’ish but with roasted sweet potatoes (i keep meaning to try Carla’s method to the letter), but top my potatoes with furikake, which i’m convinced makes most meals better :)

  2. I just made a batch of these over the weekend and have been eating them all week for lunch – YUM! I can’t believe I’d never steamed them either. Also, thanks for the tip on what to do with the leftover tahini butter…SOBA FTW.

  3. I have some sweet potatoes on the counter that I was going to roast for dinner, but now that I’ve seen this, I’ll try this way tonight. Have you tried the sweet potatoes with purple skin and white inside? (They call them oriental yams at Costco, but that seems wrong.) Anyway, I might like those even better.

  4. Matthew Wencl says:

    June 26th, 2019 at 3:35 pm

    Going to try this tonight. I’ve made one thing so far from Where Cooking Begins . . . Music’s pastry. I have to say, I was trepidatious throughout the messy process, but my fresh strawberry pie had the flakiest crust I’ve ever made. Highly recommended.

  5. Jan Canyon says:

    June 27th, 2019 at 10:57 am

    Love these. Will try the tahini on them but do give the black sesame seeds a try as they are better contrast. Love your blog and wish it were more frequent!

  6. related: try miso butter with harissa or togarashi!

  7. i love this recipe and make it for work lunches often. oddly, you can skip some or sll of the butter in the spread and it’s still delicious.to go full mom blog, throw those sweet potatoes in the instant pot for 15 mins! even less heat in your kitchen.

  8. I was once cooking in a kitchen with Limited Resources. I had a whole roasted sweet potato and butter, but it needed something more. The leftover soy sauce packet did the trick! Such a good simple combo: sweet potato, butter and soy sauce.

  9. That tahini butter on everything all summer! Just ate it on grilled corn with lime last night.

What do you think?