Stovetops seem so much easier to use day to day than ovens. Although little’s easier than cutting up vegetables and laying ’em out on a cookie sheet to roast, preheating the range for half an hour then baking the pieces for nearly an hour seems a nuisance. Outside of baking bread, I cook in the oven only a few times a year.
Recipes like Mark Bittman’s “Stir-Fried Sweet Potatoes with Brown Butter and Sage” are great as written and amazing when adapted to a low-fat vegan cuisine. Grating or shredding increases the surface area and cuts cooking time for such a hard number like a yam. So why not winter squash? Turns out they respond the same way. I choose butternut for quality and value, with its small seed cavity and easy-peeling smooth skin, but any variety is fine.
- About 2 pounds sweet potatoes OR winter squash, such as butternut
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 12-20 whole fresh sage leaves
- 2-4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, to start
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
Sweet potatoes can be left unpeeled if desired, but wash well and cut out bad spots. If using winter squash, peel, halve and scoop out seeds and stringy goop. Grate into shreds.
Place large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add oil. Drop in sage leaves and stir gently 2-3 minutes. Add garlic and continue to saute one more minute. Remove sage leaves and reserve; leave most of the garlic in the pan.
Add grated sweet potatoes or squash to skillet and increase heat to medium-high. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Stir only once or twice a minute until vegetable begins to brown, about 4 minutes. Cook stirring often about two more minutes until tender but still holding texture. Taste and add a little more salt if needed. The vegetable should be well-browned but only in spots, with the rest having turned a deeper orange.
Place in serving bowl or on plates. Garnish with sage leaves.
Serves 2-4 as a side dish or instead of a grain with a stir-fry.
Notes: A food processor needs only seconds for this, but then you have to wash up the parts. Cleaning’s a cinch with a simple box grater. It will need 2-3 minutes for the job; dice up the stub end and toss in. … 1.5-2 pounds of veg will fill a 12-inch skillet. More flesh than that and you should cook in batches.
Adapted by Ben S. Pollock from Mark Bittman recipe “Stir-Fried Sweet Potatoes with Brown Butter and Sage,” Nov. 19, 2008, in The New York Times