If there is one type of food Anguel and I crave most, it’s definitely Mexican. He’s sucker for tortilla anything, and me…well, avocado has a special place in my heart. Thankfully, Mexican food is like that old friend you can always rely on. It’s that meal you serve when you have a bunch of people over, that meal you make when it's just the two of you, the perfect snack when you're just feelin' a little taco, and that glorious feast when you're ready to chow down like nobody's watching.
It's the last occasion I remember most fondly. About two years ago, Anguel and I decided it would be fun to do a thirty mile hike through Zion National Park. In one weekend. We were so excited about this impromptu vacation that we didn't spend much time thinking through how our flight / travel schedule left very little time for well, hiking. Oops. We had some other major oversights as well. Things like: it gets pretty cold in the desert at night. Sleeping mats are primo when sleeping on frozen ground – and no, it's not fun to share. Drug store vodka is not a suitable fuel substitute for camp stoves. Purel on the other hand works decently well, but unless you packed a liter in your bag, your freeze dried camp food isn't fluffing up anytime soon. Despite these set-backs, we finished the hike in two days and had the most amazing time doing it! By the end, we could barely walk. And our stomachs' had a hole that energy bars just couldn't fill, no matter how hard we tried. We celebrated by hobbling over to a dingy, small-town Mexican bar (Why? Because Mexican food + tequila = win). I don't think I've ever been so happy to eat overcooked rice and salty beans – it was a glorious feast. I was thrilled to have my old friend back.
So what does this have to do with this recipe? Well for one, this recipe makes me almost as happy as that moment. This dish embodies all the flavors I love about Mexican food, all stuffed into one cozy baked sweet potato. Because if there's one other food I'd take with me to a desert island, it would definitely be sweet potato.
Beyond being one of the most beautiful tubers out there, sweet potatoes pack a powerful punch when it comes to nutrition. They're best known for being an epic source of beta-carotene. In fact, one sweet potato can provide up to 400% of your daily vitamin A needs! Holy guacamole, right? It's wise to cook your meal with a bit of fat where you can (like the oil in this recipe), because it helps with the absorption of fat soluble vitamins (like vitamin A). And as you'd probably assume, there's good stuff in the skin as well, so try to eat it as much as possible – and buy local and organic when you can. I recently shared a recipe that gets me really excited about the humble potato (recipe here). That said, because sweet potatoes provide more nutrients with fewer calories and a lighter glycemic load, sweet potatoes have a slight edge in our kitchen.
What I really like about this recipe is that it utilizes a lot of "regular" ingredients. There's no need to go searching for special peppers or fancy sauces here – this one’s for those regular dinners when you don't feel like hitting up a grocery store on the way home from work. With the weather lately, I don't mind that at all. And despite the fact there are a few separate components to the dish, it still all comes together fairly easily. Once your sweet potatoes are roasting in the oven, you'll prepare the toppings. The black beans will get bathed in a warm bath of spices and seasonings. The peppers and onions will caramelize on the stove to develop that golden brown char. And we'll brighten things up with a bit of quick-sautéed corn and jalapeno. You can get as creative with the garnishes as you wish. I suggest avocado, cilantro and a squeeze of lime.
This recipe makes enough for four servings. For us, that means leftovers – and let me tell you, on these cold winter days, there's nothing more exciting than digging into one of these babies for lunch or dinner!
Fajita Veggie Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
- 4 sweet potatoes
Spiced Black Beans
- 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
- 1 small yellow onion, diced (about 1 cup)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1½ teaspoons cumin
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon oregano
- 1 (15 oz/14 fl oz/398 ml) can black beans, rinsed
- ¾ cup vegetable broth
Onions and Peppers
- 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
- 1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
- 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
- 1 cup frozen corn kernels (or fresh)
- 1 jalapeno pepper, minced (seeds and ribs removed, optional)
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- Vegan Guacamole
- Sour cream
- Lime wedges (for squeezing)
- Preheat: Preheat oven to 425°F (220°C).
- Sweet potatoes: Poke the sweet potatoes all over with a fork. Arrange sweet potatoes on a parchment line baking sheet and bake until soft when poked with a knife, 45 to 55 minutes.
- Spiced Black Beans: Meanwhile, heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, cumin, paprika, salt, and oregano. Cook, stirring frequently, until garlic is fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Add beans, broth and bay leaves. Partially cover with a lid, reduce heat to medium low, and simmer until most of the liquid is evaporated, 25 to 30 minutes.
- Onions and Peppers: Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and bell pepper. Sauté until softened and brown on the edges, about 20 minutes. If the onions start sticking to the pan, add a splash of water to loosen. Reduce heat if needed to prevent burning. Transfer to a small bowl.
- Jalapeno Corn: Return the skillet to the stove (no need to clean) and add oil. Add the corn and jalapeno. Saute until the corn is brown on the edges, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in salt and pepper.
- Assemble: Use a knife to cut a slit down the top of the each sweet potato. Stuff with beans, onion and peppers, and corn. Add toppings of your choice and dig in (see note 1).
- Serving suggestions: These stuffed sweet potatoes can also be served with a side of rice.
- Meal prep idea: Assemble the stuffed sweet potatoes, store in airtight containers, and reheat in the oven or microwave until heated through.
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