One of the places I love to lurk on the internet is on boards and groups where people discuss their menu plans for the week. I am so sorry you thought I was going to say something more exciting here. I mean, of all the place to lurk on the internet, Deb. I am truly a bore — possibly to everyone but people who love to cook.
But these posts! Forget the blogs, forget the cookbooks — just kidding, please do not do either — this is how people really eat, or aspire to at the ambitious start of their week, and I can’t help but take mental notes. One of the things that comes up frequently is something called a “sweet potato taco,” and it got stuck in my head because we like sweet potatoes, we like tacos… Maybe I should try my hand at them! I envisioned cubes of sweet potatoes roasted with so much spice, it almost forms a crust, and then something with black beans, and a bright, acidic finish to cut through the carb-starch-carbiness of it. The first time I made it, I threw them together and, because this is the year 2018, tossed a picture of our dinner onto Instagram Stories* and it turns out, a lot of people wanted the recipe. I promised to write it up good and proper one day, “one day” in Deb-ese is 5 weeks minimum, and that brings us up to today.
In this time, they’ve quickly become a staple because in the rarest, unicorn of occurrences, every single person in my family cleaned their plates, even the 2.5 year-old, probably for the first time in the history of her life. [It’s only fair that a food writer gets a kid that — in practice or on principle, only time will tell — basically refuses caloric sustenance.] On occasion, she’d bite into a piece that had a slightly heavier dusting of chipotle on it and scream with rage while pointing to her gums (see also: 2.5 years old) but I’d assure her that it was just a fluke piece and the next one would be fine and she bought it and I bought a lottery ticket. So now I have to make them again and again. They’re incredibly simple, just a charred flour tortilla, tray of roasted spiced sweet potatoes, a little schmear of refried black beans to hold them in place, and then anything you want to put on top. I began dreaming up pepita salsas and other more complex toppings but in the end, because this is real life, I didn’t have time to do anything particularly extra and nobody minds at all.
* Tomorrow! 3/16! At 1 p.m. Eastern, I’m going to do something I haven’t done before: Make dinner. And invite you to watch. On Smitten Kitchen Instagram Stories, I’ll do a live demo of, well, the meal my family requested (sometimes I listen to them): spaghetti and meatballs, and then if time permits, some crispy broccoli, and maybe even our house favorite cookie. Should you not be able to tune in then, the Story will be available for 24 hours to watch at your leisure. Come say hi!
One year ago: Butterscotch Pie and Punjabi-Style Black Lentils
Two years ago: Everyday Meatballs and Roasted Yams with Chickpeas and Yogurt
Three years ago: The ‘I Want Chocolate Cake’ Cake and Cornmeal Fried Pork Chops and Goat Cheese Smashed Potatoes
Four years ago: Morning Bread Pudding with Salted Caramel and Kale and Quinoa Salad with Ricotta Salad
Five years ago: French Onion Tart and My Favorite Buttermilk Biscuits
Six years ago: Fried Egg Sandwich with Bacon and Blue Cheese and Multigrain Apple Crisps
Seven years ago: Pina Colada Cake and Whole Wheat Goldfish Crackers
Eight years ago: Monkey Bread with Cream Cheese Glaze and Cauliflower and Caramelized Onion Tart
Nine years ago: Thick Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies and Soft Pretzels
Ten years ago: Homemade Hostess Cake and Sweet Potato Wedges
Eleven years ago: Baked Tomato Sauce and Recipes from a Cumin Junkie
And for the other side of the world:
Six Months Ago: Corn Chowder with Lime, Chile and Cotija and Tomato Bread + A Bit About Spain
1.5 Years Ago: Eggplant Parmesan Melts and Even More Perfect Blueberry Muffins
2.5 Years Ago: Angel Hair Pasta with Raw Tomato Sauce and Crispy Peach Cobbler
3.5 Years Ago: Smoky Eggplant Dip and Strawberries and Cream with Graham Crumbles
4.5 Years Ago: Rice-Stuffed Tomatoes and Almond Crisped Peaches
Sweet Potato Tacos
Heat is the trickiest thing for me to get right for everyone in recipes; some chili powders (and I’m referring to chili powder, the blend, not chile powder, which is just ground chiles) ranges wildly in heat. If yours is spicy and you like things spicy, go up to 1 tablespoon. If yours is mild but you’d like it spicier, also use 1 tablespoon and add some chipotle powder, cayenne or a few shakes of hot sauce to taste. If yours is very hot but you don’t want the dish to be too spicy for people who don’t like heat, just 1 teaspoon may be fine.
- 2 pounds (about 4 medium) sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 to 3/4″ cubes
- Olive oil
- 1 heaped teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 heaped teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 to 3 teaspoons chili powder, to taste (see Note)
- Chipotle powder, cayenne, or shakes of hot sauce, to taste (see Note)
- 1/2 teaspoon sweet smoked paprika
- 12 small (6-inch) or 6 medium (8 to 9-inch) flour tortillas
- 1 15-ounce can refried black beans
- 1 lime, in wedges
- Sliced avocado, pickled red onions, pickled jalapenos, chopped fresh cilantro, hot sauce, Lazy Taco Slaw, or your choice(s) thereof, to finish
Roast potatoes for 40 to 45 minutes, tossing once or twice for even color.
To assemble, if you have a gas stove, I love running flour tortillas over an open flame to give them a little char and complexity. Otherwise, you can wrap the stack of them in foil and let them warm in the oven while the potatoes roast for 5 minutes.
Schmear some refried black beans on each tortilla. Add a big spoonful or two of roasted sweet potatoes. Squeeze a little lime juice over the potatoes and black beans (don’t skip this, please), and finish with toppings of your choice, shown here with a shake of hot sauce, sliced avocado, pickled red onions, and cilantro. Repeat with the remaining ingredients.
To get ours ready for the family meal, I get the tacos as far as the black beans, sweet potatoes, lime juice, and avocado, and let everyone take it from there. They stay warm for about 15 minutes nested, as shown, in a casserole dish.