How do you like your sweet potatoes? Now, I know, that many of you think about this locally grown vegetable primarily around Thanksgiving and use it baked in pies and mashed beneath a layer in melted mini marshmallows; but North Carolina’s sweet potato season runs from late summer on into December and for some farms, continues through the early winter. Happily for us, the cured potatoes are available at local farmers’ markets and in area grocery stores right through to the spring – nearly year round – so I say its time to leave the marshmallows for another day and discover several other ways to enjoy this local grown North Carolina treat!
While we are talking sweet potatoes, here’s a fun fact for you t brag about – Did you know that North Carolina is the number one sweet potato producing state in the country and home to more than half of the sweet potato harvest produced in the United States!?
Its true! What we see in grocery stores are only 4-5 different kinds of sweet potatoes from the classic orange Covington variety , to white O’Henry sweet potatoes and purple Japanese sweet potato variety called Murasaki. At local farmers’ markets you will see more of a local variety from the tiny to long and lanky purple Lee sweet potatoes Actually, in North Carolina, if you count in a lot of the hybrid varieties discovered and then replanted by smaller local farmers here, there are hundreds of varieties of North Carolina sweet potatoes ready for you to enjoy, each with a slightly different texture and flavor.
Health-wise you couldn’t think of a better vegetable to eat. While you might thing of them as a simple starch, the truth is that sweet potatoes are made of complex carbohydrates that are released at a steady pace for a constant source of energy after you eat them, so they are a go-to for athletes at any level – no sugar highs or lows to worry about. A medium sized sweet potato is about 100 calories and provides 35 percent of your daily recommended amount of vitamin C! As you plan to bake, roast, grill or in the case of today’s recipe, toast – Keep that skin on – eating it as well as the tender flesh of the sweet potato adds tons of nutrients and vitamins.
The cooking and assembly process for today is super simple and thats one of the things I love about this recipe. Gone is the hour plus waiting time to bake a delicious local sweet potato – now your enjoyment is as fast and as close as your toaster. These Sweet Potato Toasties are a great idea for snacking, for lunch or a fun appetizer or side to soup or a salad. And the recipe is so easy even your kids can do it! Let them have fun at home or with friends as they make creative plans to top their own – with a little help from a grown-up who will need to be on hand to cut the slices prior to toasting. The thing I love the most about these toasties is that you don’t have to make a big batch – you can make a bunch, of course, or just one or two when ever you want!
As I love to eat local all the way around, the sweet potatoes I’ve featured in this segment came from several Charlotte area farmers’ markets. My choice of toppings is oh so local as well and features Roots Hummus from Asheville, NC; Uno Alla Volta Cottage Cheese from Charlotte, NC; Coddle Creek nut butters from Mooresville, NC , Curley Tail Candied Bacon from Charlotte, NC and some spices and herbs to finish things off all from Charlotte’s Savoy Spice Shop.
The recipe follows, but wait there is more… This original post is going up the morning of Thursday Feb 8. I’m showcasing this same recipe in a cooking segment on Thursday’s broadcast of Charlotte Today on Charlotte’s NBC affiliate, WCNC-TV between 11 am and noon. Later the afternoon of the 8th or the morning of Feb 9, 2018, once I have a copy of the video in hand, I’ll embed it here, add in more photos and more details on all the ways you can top NC sweet potatoes with other products that are grown, raised, caught or made in North Carolina.
North Carolina Sweet Potato Toasties
Recipe by Charlotte Culinary Expert, Heidi Billotto
Cut your favorite variety of NC sweet potato into half-inch slices. Place in the toaster just as you would a slice of bread. Put it in to toast on high and once it pops up, keep repeating the process until both sides of the potato have started to brown a bit.
OR you can bake the slices on a parchment paper lined baking sheet at 450 degrees for about 10 minutes.
Once they are baked you may serve them hot or cold with your choice of delicious toppings. Here are 4 suggestions to get you started then let your creativity take hold and come up with your own exciting flavors – you are only limited by your imagination!
Make a savory avocado topping with a sprinkling of sumac ( a citrusy flavored spice) or just some salt and pepper; or tale it to the sweeter side of things with a topping of peanut or almond butter and bananas (and maybe a dusting of grated dark chocolate or do as I did here and grind up cocoa dusted hazelnuts or almonds and sprinkle that to finish the banana and peanut or almond butter toasts!)
For great hot appetizers: Top your sweet potato toast with sundried tomatoes with black or green olive tapenade and a bit of basil and some Uno Alla Volta mozzarella cheese for a fun take on bruschetta; or for a delicious Mexican toast – top each slice with Roots Black Bean Hummus and a sprinkling of minced cilantro and some Uno Alla Volta feta cheese.
Remember to come back to these pages for more; and when you go to the grocery store or local farmers’ market to buy North Carolina Sweet Potatoes be sure to #TellThemHeidiSentYou
Thanks so much to my blog partners who help make it possible to bring more posts like this your way. My blog post sponsors are all brands I believe in and I am happy to share their story. Today this HeidiBillottoFood.com post is brought to you by my friends at the North Carolina Sweet Potato Commission, Inc.
The North Carolina SweetPotato Commission Inc. is a nonprofit corporation made up of over 400 sweet potato growers along with the packers, processors and business associates that support them.
The sole purpose of the commission is to increase sweet potato consumption through education, promotional activities, research and honorable horticultural practices among its producers. Thanks to the six sweet potato farmers that chartered the commission in 1961, the commission has supported its growers and maintained North Carolina as the No. 1 sweet potato producing state in the United States since 1971. For more information about the NC SweetPotato Commission, growing or promotions please visit www.ncsweetpotatoes.com