I may have eaten more vegetables in the past twelve days than December combined.
As a lover of meat, and Southern cook comfortable sticking to the dairy, powdered sugar, and Diet Coke aisles, I was a bit concerned about this 21-day transition into vegetable territory. There are few things that comfort like a bit of hot, melted butter and dark chocolate, whisked together and poured over ice cream.
This journey as a pseudo, 21-day-vegetarian has taught me two things. One, I want to be Heidi Swanson. Two, few things out- perform a black bean in flavor and fillability.* If I was crafty, I would take their cans, paint them gold and shape them into a trophy, then award Goya the MVP kitchen medal for January.
But my friend Courtney from Kinora Films (the best wedding videographers in the universe) inspired my affection for the black beans and sweet potatoes combo. She has a killer black bean and sweet potato chili recipe that one day I hope to share with you.
The recipe below is a modified version of one I found online; I thought the added brightness of basil and the kick of ground chipotle peppers would elevate the flavors, and it takes a roasted sweet potato to, as they say, a whole-notha-level. Or, as my relatives say, “man, them sure is ‘werd but tasty.” Good black beans smothering anything will do that to you. Maybe even more than chocolate-covered ice cream? Let’s not get carried away…
Black Bean Smothered Sweet Potatoes
What You Will Need
- 2 medium sweet potatoes
- 1 15-ounce can black beans, 1/4 of beans removed; 3/4 rinsed
- 1 medium tomato, diced
- 2 scallions, chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, chopped
- 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- 1/2 generous teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon ground chipotle peppers
- 1/teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for drizzling**
What You Will Do:
- Preheat oven to 450.
- Prick sweet potatoes with a fork in several places. Do this gently. When I pricked mine, I was a tad aggressive and accidentally got my fork stuck. Be warned; this is not an easy disassembly.
- Drizzle a bit of olive oil on your cleaned sweet potatoes, then sprinkle them lightly with kosher salt. Wrap each in aluminum foil, making sure to leave no skin exposed, and put both on a cookie sheet.
- Cook until tender all the way to the center, about one hour. Side tip: If you are feeling adventurous with your potatoes, cook these babies for 2 hours. They develop a roasted, sweet, pillowy softness that is addictive.
- Meanwhile, combine beans, tomato, scallions, basil, cilantro, oil, cumin, paprika, smoked peppers, and salt in a medium saucepan.
- When they are cool enough to handle, cut each sweet potato lengthwise, press them open to make a well in the center, and spoon the bean mixture into the well. Hot sauce is also an excellent topper here.
*This word refers to a bean’s ability to make you feel like you ate meat.
**Depending on how salty you like things, you could use a bit less salt than this because of the addition of the unrinsed beans. I like things salty, so it worked for my palate.