My love of steamed sweet potatoes dates back to the earliest days of feeding my first baby. (He’s in college now, as if you needed proof of the length of my commitment.) I had my mind made up about making all of his food, so a chunk of time every weekend went towards batch-cooking a variety of pureed vegetables. Because I’m that mom, I usually had the oven, a steamer, and a pot of simmering water going simultaneously, each dispatching a different type of produce. (Many years later, I realized that all of this prepping and cooking and planning was one of the ways I managed my guilt about having a full-time job and not being with him for weekday meals, but that’s another story.)
I had never before steamed a sweet potato, but boy are we lucky I had a reason to experiment at my nascent toddler catering company. Steaming is the fastest and most forgiving cooking method for almost anything, but especially sweet potatoes. The high heat, high moisture atmosphere keeps the potatoes from ever getting fibrous or leathery; in fact, they get plump, fluffy, and pudding-like.
Nothing against sweetie p’s! I love to them, but too often we ask the impossible of them. If you have roasted sweet potatoes and experienced their dry and chewy selves, you know the vibe. If you have tried making sweet potato “fries” and realized that they will—eventually—become browned and cooked, but crisp and crunchy ain’t happening, that acceptance is key.
Getting back to baby food HQ: Before dropping the steamed potatoes into the food processor to blend, I would often lob off a big piece, spoon softened butter onto it, adorn it with flaky salt and lots of pepper, and treat myself to a stand-up kitchen snack. The spirit of that "recipe" inspired the sweet potato with tahini butter in Where Cooking Begins.
The two new toppings are highly textured, super savory, and extremely fantastic (recipes, below). There’s a crunchy seedy brown butter one and an herby lentil with cooling yogurt. (Bonus Spin It idea: either one would be extremely copacetic with steamed or roasted winter squash.)
I made sure that the adornments can be prepped in less time than it takes to steam a sweet potato—about 30 minutes. All three are vegetarian and lean on pantry items. For my meal preppers, batch steaming is a great option; cool the potatoes and then refrigerate, airtight. A cold steamed sweet potato can be split and crisped in a hot oiled skillet, then dressed.
It’s not baby food; it’s dinner, baby.
For the price of 3 large sweet potatoes, you can bag a month of Food Processing! For written recipes and other special stuff, consider becoming a paid subscriber.