Friday, July 8, 2011

Sweet Potatoes with Warm Black Bean Salad

A huge thank you to my husband for helping out on this dish by baking the sweet potatoes ahead of time. Few foods exist that I abhor more than microwaved "baked" potatoes, convenience be damned. I almost skipped over this recipe completely due to its dependance on the modern kitchen appliance. I'm glad I didn't.

adapted from Eating Well Magazine, Dec 2005/Jan 2006

serves 4

The Ingredients:

4 medium sweet potatoes
1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed
2 medium tomatoes, diced
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream*
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
The Process:

I'm ignoring all microwaveable directions on principle. Below is my process. For microwave instructions, visit the original recipe at

Prick sweet potatoes with a fork in several places. Alternatively, place in a baking dish and bake at 425 degrees F until tender all the way to the center, about 1 hour.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine beans, tomatoes, oil, cumin, coriander and salt; heat over medium heat until just heated through.

When just cool enough to handle, slash each sweet potato lengthwise, press open to make a well in the center and spoon the bean mixture into the well. Top each with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of cilantro.

My Modifications:
I prepared this dish in the oven and stove top, foregoing the deplorable microwaveable option. Microwaves never seem to yield the same creamy interior that an oven baked potato offers. For want of fresh tomatoes (most in the store and even, sadly, at the farmers market appeared more like pink Styrofoam than juicy, pulpy produce) I opened a can of diced tomatoes. The substitution wasn't ideal, but passable. Canned tomatoes still supersede flavorless genetic monsters. We also skipped the cilantro.

The Review:
I am a huge fan of sweet potatoes. They are capable of dishes far superior and nuanced than the overly sweetened marshmallow-y concoction most people familiarize with the tuber. I've eaten sweet potatoes baked before, but the Tex-Mex dressing was a new twist well worth trying out. The coriander and cumin, a pairing I am becoming quite fond of, played very well off of the sweet meat of the potato. The sour cream added a wonderful tart edge, with a creamy finish. With large enough potatoes and a generous spoonful of the filling, these could easily pass for a vegetarian entree (*or vegan if you omit the sour cream).

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