Sweet potatoes are my secret weapon for getting a quick, easy, nutritious dinner on the table on busy nights.
Actually, sweet potatoes are my go-to for any meal of the day, particularly if I’m low on groceries and need something healthy, filling, and tasty to get me through to the next time I go shopping. As long as I have a stockpile of sweet potatoes in the pantry, I know I can turn them into something satisfying.
I’ve even been known to slather a leftover half of a roasted sweet potato with peanut butter for a post-hike snack or random mid-morning craving. What I’m trying to say is: Hi, my name is Chelsea, and I’m obsessed with sweet potatoes. Nice to meet you.
Okay, let’s talk sweet potato specifics. Yes, sweet potatoes. Not yams. Did you know that the term ‘yam’ is a misnomer, used by American grocery stores because apparently the average American is more interested in eating a yam than a sweet potato? Yams are actually a GIANT tuber that grows in Africa, and it’s likely that you’ve never actually eaten a yam in your life. I know I haven’t.
Anyway, there are several varieties of sweet potatoes out there. I always find the best selection- and a reasonable price- of sweet potatoes at Whole Foods. They usually carry a few varieties, like Jewel, Garnet, Hannah, Japanese, or Purple; and yes, they’re all called yams. My favorite variety to roast and stuff is the Garnet. They’re creamy, sweet, and have soft, dark orange flesh.
I like to pick out sweet potatoes that are all similar in size/shape so they all cook the same amount of time. It’s also helpful to pick out a short fat potato, opposed to a long skinny one, since you’ll have more space to fill up with toppings that way. More toppings = more happiness. Trust me.
You can microwave sweet potatoes in an emergency (rinse, poke with a fork, and microwave for 6-8 minutes, or until tender), but I always prefer the consistency best when they’ve been roasted. Microwaved sweet potatoes don’t always cook evenly, and I hate biting into a crunchy chunk of barely cooked sweet potato when I’m trying to eat a creamy, dreamy stuffed sweet potato.
Depending on the size of your sweet potatoes, it could take only 30 minutes for them to become soft in the oven, but it could also take upwards of an hour. It really depends. If the potatoes are particularly huge, I usually cut them in half lengthwise to get them cooked more quickly. My husband also thinks that 4 minutes in the microwave and 25 in the oven is the perfect compromise for when you’re in a rush but still want the creamy, caramelized, roasty goodness of a baked sweet potato.
Once you’ve located yourself some ‘taters and roasted them, all that’s left to do is load them up with veggies, top with cheese, and stick under the broiler. Bonus points for adding extra toppings like sliced avocado, salsa, or sour cream once they come out of the broiler.
For these Fajita Stuffed Sweets, I went with the following layers:
- Roasted Sweet Potatoes mashed with a pinch of salt + pepper and a little butter. Don’t forget to season your potatoes or your life will head into an uncontrollable downward spiral. Trust me.
- Black Beans mixed with salsa and cilantro for extra FLAVOR. Go ahead and use pinto or kidney or whatever other bean you happen to love instead.
- Sauteed Onions and Peppers seasoned with plenty of cumin and garlic. This is where the fajita part of this recipe comes in, and where you could definitely add some chicken or steak, if that’s more your style.
- Shredded Cheddar. At this point you stick the potato under the broiler for some golden, bubbly goodness.
- Sliced Avocado w/Salt + Lime, Cilantro and Salsa are the icing on this proverbial cake. If you are my husband, you leave these off. (Disclaimer: just because you choose not to add these doesn’t automatically make you my husband).
Here’s what I’m thinking. At some point this weekend, you should go check out the sweet potato situation at your local grocery store. Come home, roast them, then stick them in the fridge for later in the week, when you’re busy and can’t figure out what to make for dinner. If you have all the ingredients, you can fajita-ify them. If not, you can always just load them up with something like steamed broccoli and cheddar, or some random leftovers from another night that week, and call it a day. I mean, that’s what we usually do at least once a week.
If you find yourself eating a loaded sweet potato for dinner this week, take a picture and share it with me! I love seeing everything you make on Instagram!
- 4 medium or 2 large sweet potatoes (Garnet are my favorite variety)*
- 2 bell peppers, any color
- 1 small red onion
- 1/2 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon chili flakes (optional, for heat)
- 1 15-ounce can black beans, drained
- 1/4 cup jarred salsa
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup roughly chopped cilantro
- 1/2 cup sharp cheddar, shredded
- toppings like: sliced avocado, salsa, cilantro, sour cream, etc.
- 1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Place whole sweet potatoes onto a parchment-lined sheet pan, and bake for 30-60 minutes, depending on their size. Potatoes are done when you can easily poke a knife into the center of each potato. If your potatoes are extra large, cut them in half lengthwise and bake them cut-side down.
- 2. While potatoes bake, prepare all other ingredients: Slice onions and peppers, then sautee in olive oil over medium heat for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add salt, garlic, cumin, and chili flakes, then turn off heat.
- 3. Place beans into a small bowl, and add salsa, salt, and cilantro. Stir to combine.
- 4. When potatoes are soft, remove from the oven and cut down the middle of each potato, leaving the two sides intact. Add a pinch of salt and pepper, and a small pat of butter to each potato half, then mash with a fork. Top with beans, onions and peppers, and cheese. Broil for 3-5 minutes, or until cheese is melted.
- 5. Top potatoes with avocado, salsa, etc, and eat immediately. These keep well for several days, and can be reheated in the microwave for a quick leftover lunch/dinner later in the week.
- *Try to pick 4 sweet potatoes that are similar in size, so they cook about the same amount of time. You can also bake the potatoes up to 5 days in advance, and store in the fridge until ready to make dinner. Quickly reheat the potatoes in the microwave, or let them warm in the oven while the broiler preheats, so the potato is warm when the fillings go in.