Sweet Potato Triptych

Here are three fabulous seasonally-appropriate sweet potato recipes -- all perfect for your Thanksgiving feast. One is made with only three ingredients and is totally fat-free, the other, a gratin, can be made days ahead and simply reheated, and the third is a seductive spin on roasted sweet potatoes, blanketed with a sticky maple "honey" I invented. It is nothing more, and nothing less, than pure maple syrup simmered until sticky-thick, perfumed with cinnamon stick and zested lemon. It can be made early in the day and gently warmed when the potatoes are freshly baked. A cinch to make, the result is a cavalcade of sweet, salty, buttery, citrus flavors. Satisfaction guaranteed whichever you choose.

Sweet Potato, Pear, & Walnut Gratin

This is a lovely merger of flavors and a unique addition to your Thanksgiving table. It is delicious with, or without, the layer of sliced Muenster cheese tucked midway through the layers of sweet potatoes. The spices add a gentle perfume to the cream base which bathes and softens the vegetables. This can be prepared one to two days ahead and reheated: Cover and bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes, then uncover and bake 5 minutes longer.

 3 pounds sweet potatoes 1 large firm ripe pear 3 cups half and half 1-1/2 teaspoons curry powder 1/8-1/4 teaspoon chipotle chili powder 1 large clove garlic, smashed 6 ounces thinly sliced Muenster cheese 1 cup grated parmesan cheese 1 cup walnut halves 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Peel potatoes. Slice very thin across the width. Peel pear. Thinly slice lengthwise; removing pits as you go. Put half and half in a medium saucepan with curry, chili powder and garlic. Bring just to a boil; lower heat and simmer 5 minutes. Set aside; remove garlic when ready to use. Put parmesan and walnuts in bowl of food processor; process until finely ground.

In a very large shallow ovenproof casserole (12 cups), arrange half the potatoes in overlapping slices to form a cohesive bottom layer. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Arrange pears to cover potatoes. Arrange Muenster cheese over pears. Arrange the remaining potatoes in an overlapping pattern to form a cohesive top layer. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Pour cream over and around potatoes. Cover top of potatoes with walnut-parmesan mixture. Dot with butter. Bake 1 hour and 15 minutes. Serve hot. Serves 8

Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Sweet Whipped Butter & Maple "Honey"

8 large sweet potatoes 1-1/2 cups pure maple syrup 1 large cinnamon stick 1 large lemon ½ cup sweet whipped butter ¼ cup freshy minced chives

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wash potatoes but do not peel them. Pierce them several times with the tines of a fork. Place them directly on the racks in the oven. Bake 50 to 60 minutes or until potatoes are soft. Put maple syrup and cinnamon stick in a large saucepan. Bring to a rapid boil, reduce heat to low to maintain simmer and cook until reduced to 1 cup, about 25 minutes. Add grated zest of lemon and 1 tablespoon juice. Remove from heat until ready to serve potatoes. When potatoes are soft, transfer them to a cutting board. Cut them in half lengthwise and place on a platter. Gently heat maple sap. Dollop potatoes with whipped butter and spoon hot sap over potatoes. Sprinkle with salt and chives. Serves 8

Sweet Potato, Ginger & Orange Puree This amazingly simple, bright orange puree tastes rich and fattening but it's fat-free. Add a large pinch of Chinese five-spice powder if you desire -- it's a nice touch.

2 large oranges 4 larges sweet potatoes, about 3 pounds 3-inch piece fresh ginger

Grate the zest of the oranges. Cut the oranges in half and squeeze to get 2/3 cup juice. Set aside. Scrub the potatoes but do not peel. Place in a large pot with water to cover.  Bring to a boil; lower heat to medium. Cook for 50 minutes or until the potatoes are very soft. Drain well and peel under cold water. Cut the potatoes into large pieces and put in the bowl of a food processor. Using a small knife, peel the ginger and finely chop enough to get 3 tablespoons. Add the ginger, orange zest, and orange juice to processor. Process until very smooth. Add salt to taste. Reheat before serving. Serves 8