sweet potatoes

It Starts with Sweet Potatoes

The challenge: Create some seasonal recipes ideas for North Carolina Sweet Potatoes.

The caveat: No nutty caramel mixed in, no brown sugar and cinnamon; and no, NO tiny marshmallows on top. Sometimes, (with advance apologies for this play on my favorite quote from the epic movie “Big Night”) the sweet potatoes just want to be alone.

Or, I’d like to think they yearn to be featured in either one of my recipes today. Both recipes make for great snacks or appetizers; or as a side to just about any protein. Read on for Baked Sweet Potato Tots and Sweet Potato Crispy Dumpling recipes. I hope you will love them both as much as we do!

North Carolina in Number One!

sweet potatoes

For me the challenge set for this post by the North Carolina Sweet Potato Commission was an easy one. Standing firm in my belief that marshmallows should be relegated to hot chocolate; I have always preferred my sweet potatoes baked with butter, salt and pepper instead of mashed up with all the sweet stuff.

If you, like me, like to eat and cook with sweet potatoes and you live in North Carolina, then you are in luck. The Old North State produces more sweet potatoes than anywhere else in the country. North Carolina is the 8th largest producer of sweet potatoes world wide. Here, these tubers grow in a variety of sizes, shapes, colors and degrees of sweetness. From the bright orange Covington potatoes, to the long thin Lee Purples, my sweet potato growing farmer friends tell me there are over 200 different varieties of North Carolina dirt candy.

Which one to choose?

Perfect to bake, boil, steam or mash on their own, any variety of NC sweet potato will fill the bill. But when it comes to cooking with them in a recipe, you’ll want to consider moisture content as well. Each variety works in just about any recipe, but for the best results you might want to consider these suggestions. The drier varieties such as the white Murasaki’s and A Way Of Life Farm’s Sunshine’s seem to make better fries, gnocchi and risotto. While the moister Covington’s and Bradshaw’s are better in stuffings and soups and for my sweet potato toasties.

sweet potatoes

For the Sweet Potato Tater Tot recipe, I enjoy a mix of varieties including the popular Covington potato which I like to combine with the Sunshine variety (this is a hybrid variety only available from A Way of Life Farm in Bostic, NC.)

A Way of Life sells every Saturday in Charlotte at the Charlotte Regional Farmers’ Market on Yorkmont Road, as does Bluebird Farm in Morganton NC. Even though it is super simple to find NC sweet potatoes in nearly every local grocery store in the state; if you live in or around Charlotte, and you’d like to buy directly from the farmer, both of these farms can keep your sweet potato supply fully stocked throughout the season.

Once you have sweet potatoes in hand, you can easily make my Baked Sweet Potato Tots with the addition of three simple ingredients. Eggs, Panko Crumbs and Salt & Pepper.

Here is a fun video I did with the photos from my tot recipe so you can see just how easy it is. The music is written and preformed by my husband, Tom Billotto. This is “Early Clue” and I am proud and delighted to say you can find it on Tom’s “All I Know” CD.

Heidi Billotto’s Baked Sweet Potato Tots

Your choice of 1-3 sweet potatoes, rinsed. Keep the skins on if you’d like to – you’ll need enough to yield 2-3 cups once the potatoes are shredded

2 local eggs

1 cup regular or gluten free panko crumbs

OuterBanks SeaSalt and Heidi’s Hot Pepper Blend*

Shred the potatoes by hand or in a food processor with the shredded blade. The latter takes about 2 seconds to complete the task, so if you want to make short work of things, put that box grater away for another day. You can keep the skins on the potatoes, to make even shorter work of it all.

Combine the shredded potatoes with the eggs and panko crumbs. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Once you’ve combined all of the ingredients, you need to blend them just a little more. Back to the food processor, this time fitted with the steel blade. Use a couple of quick on/off pulses to get it all blended and chopped up just a bit more. This blending will make the mix easy to shape.

Shape the mix with your hands into bite-sized “tots”. Place them side by side on a parchment paper covered baking sheet. Bake in a preheated 425 degree oven for about 15 minutes or until golden brown. Enjoy!

sweet potatoes

Once the baked tots are cooled, they freeze beautifully. Freeze them in a single layer on a baking sheet. Once they are completely frozen, transfer to a plastic freezer bag. To reheat, place frozen tots on a baking sheet at 325 for about 30 minutes.

Here’s a tasty recipe tip…

My favorite salt to use for this and all of my seasoning needs is OuterBanks SeaSalt – its a great way to keep this all local. As for the pepper blend, you’ll find my recipe for my favorite combo of peppercorns as a part of my braised and stuffed local pork chop recipe. Here is the link to the post – scroll down towards the end of the post for the recipe

What Can You Make with Mashed Sweet Potatoes?

sweet potatoes

This recipe for dumplings is a great way to use up leftovers mashed potatoes or you can of course start from scratch with baked or boiled or potatoes you cook in the microwave. The eggs make the filling light and fluffy. Baking makes these a crispy crunchy salty snack you’ll want to serve again and again.

For fun, I made these crispy baked dumplings in two batches. One with Lee’s Purple Sweet Potatoes and the other with the Covington and Bradshaw varieties.

Crispy Sweet Potato Dumplings

sweet potatoes

A cup of mashed sweet potatoes ( your choice of variety)

1 local egg for each cup of mashed potatoes

OuterBanks SeaSalt and Heidi’s Hot Pepper Blend

1 local egg + 1 Tbsp. of water for the egg wash

1 package GMO-free egg roll or wonton wrappers

For the filling: Combine one cup of your favorite variety of mashed sweet potatoes with 1 egg.

sweet potatoes

For the Wrappers: I use the wonton wrappers for smaller dumplings and the eggroll wrappers for larger ones. Either way I like to cut the wrapper in a circle to make a crescent shaped dumpling. Use a biscuit cutter to cut the wonton wrappers; and kitchen scissors to cut the eggrolls wrappers.

sweet potatoes

Once you have the size and shape you want, brush the edges of the wrapper with beaten egg wash. Then place a spoonful of the mashed sweet potatoes in the center, taking care not to overfill the wrapper.

Fold the wrapper in half up and over the filling. Crimp the edges with your fingers to seal the smaller dumplings; and use a plastic dumpling press if you would like to shape and seal the larger dumplings.

sweet potatoes

Once the dumplings are stuffed and shaped, place them on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Brush each one with a bit of the egg wash and sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper. Bake in a 375 degree oven for about 20 minutes.

If you prefer, you may also steam these dumplings or lightly poach them to serve as a noodle of sorts in soup. Enjoy!

With Thanks to the North Carolina Sweet Potato Commission….

Sweet Potatoes

My blog post sponsors are all brands I believe in and I am happy to share their story. Today, this HeidiBillottoFood.com post is done in partnership with 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

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