Sweet potatoes are baked and then stuffed with black beans, red peppers, hot sauce and cilantro in this Spicy Stuffed Sweet Potatoes recipe.
When your world is suddenly painted white, brown and gray — the colors of winter in Maine — and the sun seldom shines bright against a blue sky, it’s easy to get down. And as much as I intellectually knew what winters in Maine would be like, it’s much different to find yourself staring out your window at swirling snow during the umpteenth storm of the season. Fortunately, a little dose of vitamin D (in pill form, naturally), goes a long way to evening out the slippery slope into the winter blues.
Fortunately, we’re mid-way through February which means that days are getting longer again. That’s a questionable blessing, since longer days mean that the sun is up earlier and earlier and the shades in my room do little to stop its waking powers. More importantly though, days of less snow are approaching, though I am not foolish enough to think that March really will roar in like a lion and tip toe out like a lamb here. Still, the appeal of temperates in the double digits and the promise of something green growing outside in the next few months is strong.
I was told that January is the hardest month, but I would argue that December was worse. In that span between the thankful extravagance of Thanksgiving and the joy of Christmas, the days were nailbitingly short. The sun was nonexistent. And the reality of cold set in. It was pretty awful.
But in the homestretch, I can feel the hope and promise of spring. And with it comes a desire to re-color my life. The whites, browns and grays are ugly, but the food is not.
These Spicy Stuffed Sweet Potatoes are delicious and filling, but they are also a bright beauty against a palate of ugly winter-ness.
The tender, sweet flesh of sweet potatoes is stirred together with meaty black beans, crisp red peppers, fresh cilantro, spicy hot sauce and salt. Then it’s returned to the sweet potato skin and served. The result is a creamy, flavorful explosion of flavor and texture that is a little surprising and completely delightful. The great thing — perhaps the best thing — about this recipe is that you can make it as spicy as you want and it will be good no matter what.
For the record, I like mine pretty spicy. Not so spicy that your sinuses instantly clear, but spicy enough that the sweetness of the sweet potato is a welcome counterbalance. But then, I love spicy foods in general. If you don’t, that’s okay … you can make these milder.
However you choose to season yours, start with a baked sweet potato — just wash your potatoes, stab them a few times with a fork and bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for about an hour. But be smart and put a little aluminum foil under them so that you aren’t tasked with scraping burnt sweet potato juice off the bottom of your oven like I was the last time I baked one.
When it’s done, let them cool so you can handle them. Slice those babies in half and scoop the orange, sweet flesh into a large mixing bowl. Add the remainder of the ingredients and stir well before spooning it all back into the potato skins. You can eat these hot or cold, warmed up or not. They are perfect for packing in lunch boxes — though adjust the heat factor depending on your audience.
- 1 sweet potato, baked and cooled
- ⅓ cup drained and rinsed black beans (from a can)
- ⅓ cup finely diced red pepper
- 1 tbsp roughly chopped cilantro
- hot sauce, to taste
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Cut the sweet potato in half. Scoop the flesh into a bowl and mash with a fork.
- Stir the black beans, red pepper and cilantro into the sweet potato. Season with hot sauce, salt and pepper as desired.
- Spoon the sweet potato mixture evenly into the sweet potato skins. Enjoy -- these can be eaten hot or cold.