I knew sweet potatoes came in other colors, but I have only seen orange on the mainland. The first time I went to the Hilo Farmers Market, a lady was selling a bag marked "potatoes" for $2. I thought awesome! Cheap fresh little finger potatoes. When I cut into at home, I was surprised that they were purple inside. I asked my roommate at the time, who was from Maui, and she looked at me like I was crazy. "They are sweet potatoes...You know like Thanksgiving casserole?"
Purple sweet potatoes, or ‘uala, are a member of the morning glory family and are native to Japan. Japanese immigrants brought them to Polynesia more than a century ago. However, it is believed that the Polynesians brought some form of sweet potatoes with them on their travels throughout the Pacific prior to the Japanese introduction. All sweet potatoes are loaded with antioxidants and have anti-inflammatory properties. They also have tons of fiber and vitamin A.
Although common to Hawaiians, they were totally strange to me. I love them now though. Not only are they my favorite color, but they are also delicious. They aren't quite as sweet a the orange or yellow ones, and bit more starchy. They are great for fries or chips, but I love them in curries.
Maui Sweet Onion dressing from Rainbow of Tastes.
This recipe calls for some very specific ingredients and if you can get them, great! If not, you can always adapt the recipe to what you can get. However, I would not recommended using regular orange sweet potatoes in this recipe. Like I said, purples are starchier and sturdier, more like a real potatoes than creamy orange sweets. If you cannot get purples, just use regular potatoes.
Purple Sweet Potato Salad
8-10 small purple sweet potatoes, peeled and chop into chunks
2 medium carrots, diced
2 stalks of celery, diced
1/4 Sweet Maui Onion, diced finely
2 tbs sweet pickle relish
1/2 to 1 cup Maui Sweet Onion by Rainbow of Tastes
Salt and pepper, to taste
Fill a pot 2/3 of the way with cold water.
|They aren't solid purple, more like marbled.|
|You can shred the carrots if you like too.|
While the potatoes cook, dice the carrots, celery, and onions.
|Still purple when cooked.|
|I should have got a bigger bowl...|
Cover and let it chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours.