Editor’s note: This recipe was originally published in 2009.
Sweet potatoes are, well, suh-weet.
In 1991, the Center for Science in the Public Interest ranked the sweet potato as the No. 1 veggie based on its high natural sugar content, complex carbohydrates, protein, vitamins A and C and calcium.
More recent scientific findings continue to build the case for the tubers. Sweet potatoes provide more calories, minerals and vitamin A but contain less protein than a white potato. The sweet potato is also high in antioxidants such as beta carotene, which may protect against some cancers, macular degeneration and heart disease.
So why do so many Americans reserve sweet potatoes for the holidays — usually in a casserole swimming in butter, brown sugar and marshmallows? It’s not uncommon to find recipes that call for as much as a stick of butter! You might as well just call it dessert.
But The Star’s Sweet Potato Napoleons deconstructs the classic ’30s-era dish, returning the casserole ingredients to savory stardom without the drippy excess. Slices of sweet potato are caramelized in the oven, then the rounds are stacked with gooey mini-marshmallows within and heated again.
The culinary Napoleon actually has nothing to do with the famous French emperor. The Napoleon is an Italian dessert made of sheets of puff pastry layered with pastry cream. A shorter stacked dessert version is known as a Josephine.
But if you’re interested in the sweet potato’s tie to a historical figure, we stumbled on this tidbit in “The Food Encyclopedia” (Robert Rose): King Henry VIII is reported to have received sweet potatoes as a dowry for his first wife, Catherine of Aragon.
Soon the king, who was reputed to eat two dozen sweet potatoes at a single meal, ordered English gardeners to start growing the “Spanish potato.”
▪ Pump it up: This recipe was tested with both peeled and unpeeled potatoes. Leaving the skin on the sweet potato adds fiber. The skin also contains three times more antioxidants than the flesh.
Sweet Potato Napoleons
Makes 10 servings
2 large sweet potatoes
1 tablespoon butter, melted
2 tablespoons brown sugar
40 miniature marshmallows
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Slice sweet potatoes into 1/2-inch slices. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick spray coating. Arrange sweet potato slices on baking sheet in a single layer. Roast for 20 minutes or until just tender. Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees.
Blend butter and brown sugar. Add cinnamon and nutmeg to taste; blend well. Brush onto sweet potato slices. Arrange 4 miniature marshmallows upright on half of the potato slices. Stack a similar size potato slice on top of the marshmallows. Return to oven and continue baking 2 to 3 minutes or until marshmallows begin to melt.
Per serving: 65 calories (16 percent from fat), 1 gram total fat (1 gram saturated fat), 3 milligrams cholesterol, 13 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram protein, 19 milligrams sodium, 1 gram dietary fiber.
Recipe developed for The Star by professional home economists Kathryn Moore and Roxanne Wyss.