When my mind is bored, it wanders to thoughts of tacos. I’ve committed myself to doing a Taco Tuesday each month on the blog, so I consider it brainstorming instead of food fantasy. While I know there are no less than a bajillion different taco combinations and ideas floating around in the world, my mind always relapses to the regular cast of actors… Egg, cheese, chicken, avocado, pico, cheese, beef, salsa, cheese… Monotony, indeed.
So we took a risk this month and chose the taco road less traveled. Slowly, in between fangirling over episodes of Doctor Who, I pieced together this concoction. A vegetarian taco comprised of sweet potato chunks slowly roasted in a spicy seasoning, a creamy black bean dip with a spark of lime, caramelized sweet onions, and a sprinkling of cotija cheese.
Why vegetarian? Meh, I realized that when planning a meal I constantly revert to some form of meat as the star. Some friends of ours recently adopted a vegetarian diet, and they’re rocking it… Talking about the delicious spicy lentils they made for dinner, the place with the epic black bean burger down the street from them, or how they were able to throw every single vegetable in their kitchen into a taco and call it an amazing dinner. We needed some inspiration to step out of our comfort zone, especially in the realm of tacos.
I was pleasantly surprised with the end result of these little nuggets. I was admittedly a bit heavy-handed with the chili powder initially, so I’ve tweaked that in the recipe. If you love sweet potatoes in any form, you’ll be smitten with them dusted in smoky/spicy flavors and slow roasted. I smeared the black bean concoction on the center of the tortilla like a little blanket, then layered it with the remaining ingredients. I adore onions and have been accused of overusing them (ahem – husband…), but I offer no apologies for sprinkling them atop these tacos. They, along with a bit of crumbled cotija cheese, add a sweetness and creamy texture that balances out the other major players.
Make this fit your tastes even more by squeezing a lime wedge over the top, or smothering it in your red salsa of choice.
And spoiler – the leftovers make for one helluva plate of migas.
Spicy Vegetarian Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tacos
- 2 sweet potatoes peeled and diced into 1" cubes
- 15 oz can black beans drained and rinsed
- 1 jalapeno halved
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/4 teaspoon paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
- 1/4 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 tablespoon cilantro chopped roughly
- 1 1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil
- Juice of 1/2 lime
- 1 small white onion sliced
- 1/4 cup crumbled cotija cheese
- Wheat tortillas (or tortillas of your choosing)
- In a small bowl, combine the chili powder, paprika, cayenne, cumin, and salt. After you've cut the potatoes, toss them in about a tablespoon of olive oil and the seasoning mixture until well dispersed. Bake on a baking sheet in an oven heated at 350 degrees Fahrenheit on the middle rack until tender, about 45-50 minutes. Flip potatoes about halfway through.
- On another baking sheet, place the jalapeno halves open-side up, and wrap the garlic cloves in a small bit of aluminum foil. Place on the top rack of your oven while the potatoes cook. Cook for about 20 minutes, turning once. The jalapeno should be roasted, and the the garlic should be very soft.
- Place the black beans, jalapeno, garlic, cilantro, and lime juice in a food processor. Pulse until smooth. While the processor is running, slowly pour in the vegetable oil. Add more if you feel it needs a runnier consistency. Add a pinch of salt.
- Heat a medium-sized skillet over medium high heat. Drizzle about a 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil, then toss in the sliced onion. Cook slowly, stirring occasionally, until the onions caramelize to your taste. I cooked mine about 7-8 minutes.
- Heat the tortillas in a microwave or skillet. Spread a layer of the black bean mixture in the middle of the tortilla, then top with a spoonful of the sweet potatoes. Top with a bit of onion and a sprinkling of crumbled cotija cheese. Serve with red salsa or avocado as well.