For years I thought I was eating yams when I probably was devouring kumaras, better known as sweet potatoes, which aren’t even related to yams.* Nevertheless, they are a favorite vegetable of mine. This is a rather unusual recipe, granted, but it is my favorite--and I almost always serve it for holidays meals.

Ingredients

  • Six good-sized sweet potatoes
  • 1 Tbsp real maple syrup
  • ½ cup dried cranberries (soaked in hot water and then drained)
  • ½ tsp rounded of ground cinnamon
  • 1 persimmon diced
  • ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • ½  tsp salt
  • Ground pepper to taste

Preparation

Bake sweet potatoes in oven preheated to 350 degrees F for about 45 minutes until moderately soft.

After removing them from the oven and allowing them to cool slightly, peel and cut into ¾-inch slices crosswise.

Place slices in a square 8-inch glass baking dish. You can leave the them in chunks or squish them down using a fork.

Combine all other ingredients in a small bowl, stir, and then pour over the sweet potatoes.

If serving that day, cover baking dish and return to the oven for about 30 minutes.

Note: This recipe freezes well if you want to make it ahead of time. If so, remove from freezer and allow to thaw for awhile at room temperature. Then place covered in the oven preheated to 350 degrees F for about 45 minutes.

Serve

Serve as a side dish for almost any meal.

*  Yams come from the “yam” family and reportedly can grow to more than 100 pounds in weight, often sold in chunks wrapped in plastic.

Sweet potatoes, on the other hand, are engorged storage roots, a member of the 'morning glory' family. Similar in size to white potatoes or turnips, kumaras come in a wide range of color. The skin can move through coppery tan to pinkish-purple, with the flesh ranging in color from creamy white to yellow, orange, or purple.

Columbus reportedly found the natives of Central America cultivating sweet potatoes and explorers likely spread this highly nutritious food from there. In 1992, the Center for Science in the Public Interest reported that this versatile root was ranked number one for nutritional value, scoring 184 points in tests, whereas the white potato scored only 84. Kumaras are lower on the Glycemic Index scale than other types of potatoes.

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