After all, as author A.A. Milne wrote, “(I)f a man really likes potatoes, he must be a pretty decent sort of fellow.”
While we’re celebrating both potatoes and sweet potatoes as a group, the two are not genealogically related. “White potatoes are part of the nightshade family, and sweet potatoes are part of the morning glory clan,” said Beth Czerwony, registered dietitian at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio.
However, both have similar nutritional benefits. “Don’t underestimate the traditional spud,” Czerwony said. “People think, ‘Oh, there’s no nutritional value, they’re basic,’ but white potatoes do contain antioxidants like flavonoids that can help reduce free radical damage.”
And if you hate peeling potatoes, you’re in luck. “I always encourage people to eat the skins,” Czerwony said, because that’s where both potatoes and sweet potatoes store their high-fiber content. Sweet potatoes are also powerhouses of vitamin A, which comes from the beta-carotene pigment that gives them their gorgeous golden color.
If you needed an excuse to tuck in to a potato or sweet potato, now you’ve got more than one. And what to choose from?
Potatoes come in a variety of textures and colors: waxy and petite red potatoes, buttery Yukon Golds, starchy russets and stunning purple potatoes, to name a few. Same goes for sweet potatoes. You’ll usually find the popular orange jewel variety at the supermarket, but there are also garnets with reddish skin, Hannah sweet potatoes with pale yellow flesh and light brown skin, and Japanese sweet potatoes such as Okinawa with purple skin and white innards.
Pick a few different types and try them out in the following recipes and preparation ideas that are beyond the basics. Sweet or savory, spicy or comforting, potatoes are always here to fuel your cravings.
It’s simpler than it looks: After scrubbing the potato clean, use a sharp chef’s knife to make thin slices down the length of the potato, then brush with olive oil or butter and season with salt or a seasoning blend. Roast at 425 degrees Fahrenheit (218 degrees Celsius) until the potato is tender.
If baby red potatoes or small fingerling potatoes are your favorites, give them the smash treatment and get the same creamy on the inside, crisp on the outside effect without slicing or dicing.
This technique only works with small whole potatoes, so unfortunately there is no analog for sweet potatoes here.
Homemade chips or fries
Potato tacos aren’t just something invented by the fast food industry — they have a long history within Mexican and Tex-Mex cuisine, and in true melting pot style, can be combined with other vegetables, meats and sauces in myriad ways. Potato tacos every day of the week? I wouldn’t say no. Try:
Hash brown waffles
If you love latkes, this is even simpler than frying those classic potato fritters. And like latkes, hash brown waffles can be topped with sour cream, smoked salmon or any other favorite brunch accompaniments. (Caviar? Yes, I’ll be right over.)
The potato pierogi
Casey Barber is a food writer, illustrator and photographer; the author of “Pierogi Love: New Takes on an Old-World Comfort Food” and “Classic Snacks Made From Scratch: 70 Homemade Versions of Your Favorite Brand-Name Treats”; and editor of the website Good. Food. Stories.