In the produce section of my grocery store I was faced with two options. They both looked sweet-potato'ish to me, but one was labeled "sweet potato" and one was labeled "yam". Which one was the one I wanted? I didn't want to doom my first try before I even left the store, so I went with the one that said "sweet potato".
I came to learn later that they were both sweet potatoes. Zoe, from zoebakes.com, has an awesome article on her website about Yam vs. Sweet Potato. You should go read it. The Department of Horticultural Science at North Carolina State University also has some good, if more academic, information here.
I took my sweet potatoes home, peeled and diced them, tossed them with a little olive oil, Kosher salt, and fresh black pepper, and roasted them in a super hot oven. The smell was heavenly. The heat from the oven evaporated most of the sweet potatoe's moisture, shrinking the pieces (a lot) and concentrating the natural sugars. The sweet-salty flavor, combined with the slight charring on the edges--I was in love after my first bite. The little jewels were like sweet-potato candy. I must have eaten half the pan standing right there in front of the stove.
Roasted Sweet Potatoes
about 3 lbs. sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed (I do just under 1/2-inch cubes)
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse (Kosher) salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1. Heat your oven to 425. Line a 15 1/2 x 10 1/2-inch rimmed baking sheet with foil and spray the foil with non-stick spray.
2. Combine all of the ingredients in a gallon size zip-top bag. Seal the bag with the air still in it, and shake and turn it until the potato pieces are evenly coated with the oil and seasoning. Pour the potatoes onto the prepared pan and spread them into an even layer. Throw the bag away (one of the best parts).
3. Roast the potatoes for 40-45 minutes or until they are very tender and nicely browned. Stir the potatoes several times during cooking, more frequently toward the end of cooking to prevent them from burning on the bottom.
Makes 4 side servings
**I've found 3 lbs. is about all this size baking sheet can handle. If you crowd the pan the potatoes will steam instead of roast. They will still cook, but they won't get the lovely browning and charring that makes them go from yummy to OMG, THESE ARE SO **GOOD**...
**Because I use so little oil, you need to spray the foil with non-stick spray. Otherwise the potato pieces stick to the foil and you leave all the good parts behind.
**I pick sweet potatoes that are as close to russet-potato shape as I can get; it makes them easier to peel and easier to cut into more-or-less even cubes.