I always thought yams and sweet potatoes were different vegetables. A few years ago a farmer taught me differently. We had just moved to North Carolina from Rhode Island and went to the Raleigh Farmers' Market looking for yams. We saw a farmer with a 3-foot high pile of tubers on his table and a single cardboard sign labled "Sweet Potatoes." So I asked him, "Do you have any yams?" He answered, "They're right 'ere," picking up one of the potatoes from the table in front of us. "No, yams," I said. "Yeah, right 'ere," he repeated, handing me the sweet potato.
I looked over at Jeff thinking: Great, these Southerners don't know the difference between a sweet potato and a yam.
At the same time the farmer looked over at his wife behind the cash box thinking: Great, another Yankee who doesn't know the first thing about potatoes.
He then explained to me that a yam is really just an orange-fleshed sweet potato. Unlike their white-fleshed counterparts, however, these tubers are so sweet that even when eaten plain they taste like sugar has been added to them. In fact, that first week I used them to make a sweet potato pie (from a wonderful recipe from this same farmer). I brought him a piece the next weekend. Who would have known that the simple sweet potato (er, yam) could be the basis of a rapprochement of the North and South.
I tossed this recipe together recently with some fresh citrus and ginger to add a little sparkle. I've also used winter squash or carrots instead of yams.
Baked Yams with a Citrus Glaze and Toasted Pecans
Makes 2 servings.
Print recipe only here.
1 large yam
Some cooking spray or a little olive oil for coating the yam
1 tsp butter
¼ cup orange or tangerine juice
1 tsp of good honey
About 1 tsp of grated fresh ginger
About 1 tsp of orange zest
About 1 tsp of lemon zest
A pinch of ground cinnamon
A pinch of nutmeg
Some salt and pepper, to taste
Chopped, toasted pecans for garnish
To toast the pecans, pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees. Layer the pecans on a baking sheet, and bake for 10 minutes, or until slightly toasty and aromatic.
Bump up the oven temperature to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with tinfoil (for easy clean-up). Slice a yam in half, lengthwise, and coat the flesh with some cooking spray or a little olive oil; place face down on baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes, or until a fork easily pierces it. Remove from oven, and let cool.
Meanwhile, in a small pan over medium-low heat, whisk the butter, orange juice, and honey until combined. Add the remaining ingredients, and heat for a couple of minutes, until it begins to slightly thicken and bubble up.
Once the yams are cooled, scoop out the cooked flesh, and place it in a bowl. Pour the citrus glaze on top, and mix well. Add toasted pecans.
Serving Suggestion: This pairs well with pan-seared tofu or pork.