These easy black bean sweet potato tacos are on the table in 30 minutes and seasoned with ancho chile powder for maximum flavor. Learn how to make this vegetarian twist on stewed tacos from my husband/sous chef Will in his first ever guest post!
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Hello Citizens of the Veg World! I’m Will, Lizzie’s husband, and I’ve been called on as a probably-underqualified guest poster.
When people talk to me about Lizzie and her website, they tend to beat around the bush for a while before finally asking what they really want to know, so I’m going to spare you the wondering and answer your questions right here at the top:
- Yes, I do get to eat all of the recipes. My sack lunches are the envy of my office.
- Yes, I’m extremely grateful for this.
- Yes, we still have junk food in the house.
- No, I am probably not as helpful to Lizzie’s general process as I’d like to think I am, but she hasn’t burst my bubble yet.
- No, I really don’t have to cook very often, but yes, I do like to cook.
I’ve loved to be in the kitchen since I was a toddler. My mom is a great cook, and when I was little I would hang around and “help” by measuring and stirring and making requests, which were generally for baked goods or for tacos.
My favorite food was (and is) tacos, which we didn’t eat nearly as frequently as I would’ve liked. I have a vivid memory of my mom telling me (probably more than once), “I’m not making tacos for you everyday, but when you grow up and have a home of your own, you can eat tacos for every meal if you want to make them.”
I showed her!!! From the time I left home until Lizzie and I moved in together, I made sure I kept myself well-stocked on tortillas, salsas, and a variety of proteins, which allowed me to achieve my childhood dream. I really did eat a form of tacos for at least a third of my meals. It was a glorious time.
In terms of feasibility, I lucked into a favorite food. Tacos are very accepting of a variety of inputs. If you have the ingredients I listed above, you’re about 75% of the way to a meal, and while I’ve lessened the pace, I’ve kept up my love for the taco genre over the past few years as well.
Every week I keep making the same contributions to our grocery list: corn tortillas, black beans, cheese, and green and red salsas. So a few weeks ago, when Lizzie had a late night at the blogging factory and I was called in from the bullpen to cook dinner, I was prepared and stocked to make some pantry tacos.
These tacos fall under the subcategory of Tacos Guisados. Guisado translates to “stew,” and can contain pretty much any combination of meats, beans, and/or vegetables.
Throw the ingredients into a pot with some spices, wait, put the stew into a tortilla, and you have yourself a hot meal. You can do it. I believe in you.
How to Make Black Bean Sweet Potato Tacos
This particular version of black bean sweet potato tacos is very simple and keeps well, so you can cook it up for an easy meal at the end of a long day or in a batch over the weekend as meal prep. The short ingredient list makes for simple steps, and the result is delicious, filling, and vegetarian.
To make this recipe:
- Dice the scallions about half of the way up, starting at the white, root end (get rid of the tip with the little stringy things), and discarding the leafy green section at the top. You’ll be able to feel the scallion getting less dense as you move up – stop once the concentric circles of the scallion no longer appear very tight.
- Scrub or peel a sweet potato and dice it into cubes that are about ¾ of an inch wide. The width of your thumb is a good eyeball test.
- From there, it’s just a matter of adding everything in the right order: fry the scallions until they’re soft, then add your spices, the potato, and finally the beans and some water, and let it stew.
These will turn out best if you:
- During the last 5 minutes or so of cooking, take off the lid to let the stew steam off some water. This thickens the mixture, which will prevent the dreaded soggy/broken tortilla.
- Stir in the lime juice at the last minute to keep the citrus flavor fresh.
- If you can get it, use ancho chile powder instead of regular chili powder. Both work, but the ancho chile adds amazing flavor.
- Don’t take your tortillas for these black bean sweet potato tacos for granted. Buy good tortillas (La Perla and Maria & Ricardo’s are two of my favorites) and warm them up – heat a pan as hot as you can, then heat each tortilla for 30-60 seconds on each side or until you see bubbles forming inside the tortilla (BONUS: this is a great, low-risk environment to practice your pancake/fried egg flipping technique).
- Keep the warmed tortillas wrapped in a clean towel or in a tortilla warmer until serving. [You can also warm tortillas by placing them directly onto a grill or gas-burning stove top to get a little bit of charring, but this requires full attention – it’s very easy to really burn them/yourself this way. But! If you’re bored of being at home and looking for ways to live on the edge, this might be the adrenaline rush for you.]
- Sweet Potato Black Bean Meal Prep Bowls
- Sweet Potato and Black Bean Veggie Burgers
- Vegetarian Pea and Bok Choy Tacos
- Radish and Black Bean Tacos with Avocado Crema
If you like these black bean sweet potato tacos and want more from Sous Chef Will, let us know in the comments below! If you’d like to know more about what goes on behind the scenes of the Veg World, you can email me at [email protected] or find me @WilliamJStreit on Instagram.
Ancho Chile Black Bean Sweet Potato Tacos
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 sweet potato - cubed
- 3 scallions - sliced halfway up the stalk
- Dash of salt
- Dash of pepper
- 1.5 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano - or dried cilantro
- 1.5 tsp ancho chile powder - can sub regular chili powder
- 1 15 oz can black beans - drained and rinsed
- 3/4 cup water
- Hot sauce - to taste
- 1/2 lime - juiced
- 8 corn tortillas - warmed
- Cotija cheese - for serving
- Heat oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Add diced scallions, salt, and pepper. Cook until softened – about 3 minutes.
- Add oregano or cilantro, cumin, and ancho chile powder together. Immediately add sweet potato and stir until potato pieces are coated in spices. Fry for 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Stir in beans, water, and a few dashes of hot sauce. Bring to a boil, cover the pot, reduce heat, and simmer. Cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes, or until potatoes are tender. While this is cooking, warm the tortillas for 30-60 seconds on each side in a pan over high heat.
- Take the lid off the pot and cook for 5 more minutes to allow extra condensation to escape. Stir in lime juice and serve in tortillas.
- Serve with cotija cheese, salsa, sour cream, and/or a squirt of lime.
- This can also be served over cooked rice. To do this, skip the last 5 minutes of cooking with the lid off. This will keep the liquid in the pot, which will help to provide flavor to the rice.
Happy taco day! – Will