The Sweetest Spud

What Thanksgiving table would be complete without a generous helping of sweet potato casserole piled high with melted marshmallows? And who could pass on an autumnal slice of sweet potato pie? While Southerners often associate sweet potatoes with sugar and butter, this versatile veggie actually has an impressive nutritional profile: Sweet potatoes are a great source of beta-carotene, and they’re high in vitamins, iron, potassium, and fiber. To make the most of these tasty taters, try them roasted with olive oil, sautéed in a skillet hash, or mixed into a spicy chili.
Here, Chattanooga locals share their favorite ways to serve up sweet potatoes.


rebecca barron, executive chef at st. john's in chattanooga

St. John’s Restaurant’s Seared Wild Salmon with Sweet Potato Curry

By Rebecca Barron, Executive Chef | Serves 4


For the sweet potato curry:

  • 2 Tbsp. coconut oil
  • 1 cup each of fennel, white onion, red bell pepper, and celery, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 cup okra, chopped
  • 1 cup eggplant, diced
  • 1 cup tomatoes, diced
  • 1/4 cup pitted dates
  • 2 cups sweet potatoes, diced
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 2 Tbsp. freshly ground curry powder

For the salmon:

  • 4 wild caught salmon fillets
  • Salt to taste
  • White pepper to taste
  • 1 Tbsp. canola oil


Heat the coconut oil over medium-low heat in a large saucepan, and add the fennel, onion, bell pepper, celery, and garlic. Season with 1 tsp. of salt. Sauté for 3-5 minutes until translucent.

Add the okra and eggplant, and sauté for 3 minutes.

Add the tomatoes, dates, sweet potatoes, and coconut milk. Then add water until just covered. Simmer until the vegetables are tender.

Add the curry powder. Cook about 2 more minutes to incorporate the curry. Season to taste with salt. At this point, you can either blend the sauce or leave it as is. A purée will provide a smoother consistency.

To cook the salmon, season both sides with salt and white pepper. Sear in a cast iron skillet over medium heat with a little canola oil. Let the skin get nice and crispy before flipping it over. This will take 3-4 minutes on the skin side, and then 2 minutes on the flesh side.

Serve the salmon over the curry and enjoy!


Did you know?

Sweet potatoes and yams, although often used interchangeably in recipes, are entirely different species.   Yams, imported from Asia and Africa, are starchier and drier than sweet potatoes, which are homegrown and, of course, sweet! Between the two, sweet potatoes contain more nutrients and fiber.


Lucky Ramsey holding her Sweet Potato Enchilada Casserole in chattanooga


For Lucky Ramsey, of Chattanooga, home-cooked meals are the norm – and this sweet potato enchilada casserole is on steady rotation! “This is my go-to recipe for a big party or potluck. The enchiladas are vegan and gluten-free, so they are a safe bet when you aren’t sure about any food allergies. I always hear, ‘I would have never guessed these were vegan!’ after sharing them with friends.”


Lucky Ramsey’s Sweet Potato Enchilada Casserole

Serves 4-6


For the enchiladas:

  • 3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 white onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 can black beans, drained
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 handful frozen corn
  • 2 10 oz. cans mild red enchilada sauce
  • 1 handful spinach or chopped kale
  • 2 Tbsp. nutritional yeast flakes
  • 2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • Salt to taste
  • 18-20 corn tortillas

For the avocado sauce:

  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 2 Tbsp. lime juice
  • 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 1-2 tsp. water


Preheat oven to 350°. Have a 9×13 casserole dish handy.

Bring a medium pot of water to boil, and boil the sweet potatoes for 5-10 minutes or until soft. Set aside.

Add olive oil to a deep sauté pan, and sauté the onions and garlic until fragrant. Add the can of black beans, chopped bell peppers, and frozen corn, cooking until slightly tender. Add in one can of enchilada sauce, the pre-cooked sweet potatoes, and the spinach. Then add the nutritional yeast, apple cider vinegar, and seasonings.

Start pouring the second can of enchilada sauce into the casserole dish, but just enough to coat the bottom of the dish. Add a layer of corn tortillas (about 6) to cover the bottom of the dish. Using a large spoon, add half of the vegetable mixture,

smoothing it into a thick, flat layer. Place another layer of corn tortillas on top, then coat with more enchilada sauce. Add the remainder of your vegetable mixture and cover with another set of tortillas, followed by the remaining enchilada sauce.

Cover the dish with aluminum foil, and bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes.

While the casserole is baking, make the avocado sauce. Using a food processor, add 2 ripe avocados and pulse until smooth. Add the lime juice, apple cider vinegar, salt, garlic powder, and pepper, pulsing until well blended. If the sauce needs thinning, add water one teaspoon at a time.

Once the casserole is out of the oven, let cool for 10 minutes, then cover with the avocado sauce and serve immediately. Enjoy!