As the saying goes, people eat with their eyes first.
Have you been at a restaurant and had your socks knocked off by how beautifully your dish was plated? Or when scrolling through food photos realized that your tummy just started rumbling??
As a food writer, I’m acutely aware of these experiences- and when it comes to photos of my food, my readers ABSOLUTELY deserve gorgeous shots.
BUT, I’m gonna level with you. In my home kitchen, I am definitely a flavor-is-the-name-of-the-game kinda gal.
The truth is, on any given night – heck even when throwing dinner parties – you won’t find me hunched over a dinner plate with a pair of tweezers and a squeeze bottle, obsessing over every detail.
That’s not my style of cooking.
And if I may- I’d say you shouldn’t obsess over it either.
DON’T be concerned with making your dish a work of art… let your fresh ingredients and delicious flavor combos do the talking.
By all means, let us be aware. But at the dinner table, a steaming plate of pasta is eye candy enough. No need to unnaturally twirl it into clumps of spirals, each perfectly nestled with tomatoes, because that’s how it’s done in the recipe shot. That food is for PHOTOS, not for eating‼️
So why do I mention food presentation on the week of Halloween?
Because while I love to get into the “spirit” of the holiday, I JUST CAN’T get into making my food look like spiders, or witches fingers, or brains, or eyeballs floating in a sea of green gobbly goop.
That food might look pretty ghoulish or bizarro or whatever the artist is going for… BUT does that stuff really ever taste good??
My way of doing Halloween food is simple – it’s color based – orange and black!?
Last year it was a “Cauldron” of pumpkin and black beans. Once I did black rice (aka Forbidden rice) with a chunky carrot curry. Black lentils have made appearances, as well as a variety of winter squash. (Kabocha squash has an extra orange-y interior.) It’s tasty and festive!
Plus, I get to give my kids and friends a healthy meal before The Great Sugar Glut ?.
So what’s on tap this year? Stuffed sweet potatoes!
Perfectly roasted, creamy and filled with piquant black beans and super fun toppings. And since this dish is entirely able to be made ahead, it leaves me plenty of time to put the final touches on costumes before heading out for the big night!
Can you enjoy this recipe apart from the Halloween holiday?
Absolutely, it’s a fantastic Fall meal any way you “slice it” ?
Bump up the proportions to feed a crowd- put out a “toppings bar” and you’ve got a party! Or cut the recipe in half and have a cozy dinner in for two.
What Type of Sweet Potato Should I Use?
I like to use Garnet yams for this recipe. They get super soft and have a pale orange flesh, that is so sweet. Jewel yams would be a good choice too. Despite the name yam, they are both actually sweet potatoes, not yams, but that’s another story for another time.
Can I Make This Ahead?
Absolutely, this is a great make-ahead meal (and easy to scale when feeding a crowd!). Roast the sweet potatoes and cool. Halve them, make a “bowl” shape in the potato and place in a baking dish in the refrigerator (my recipe video shows how to smush the potato flesh to make the shape). Cook the beans as directed, cool and also store in the refrigerator. When ready to bake, fill the sweet potatoes with the beans, and place in a 350 oven for 20-25 minutes until heated through. Top as desired.
Are There Any Substitutions?
- Try using acorn squash instead of potatoes. Cut the raw squash in half, scoop out the seeds and roast cut-side down on an oiled baking sheet. Fill with the beans once fully cooked.
- Use a couple of chopped jalapeno instead of the bell pepper, or along with it.
- Add in sausage to the beans. Cook a mild pork or chicken sausage as you are sauteing the onions, breaking it up with a spoon or spatula. Continue on with the recipe as directed.
- The dish can be made vegan by using vegetable broth instead of chicken stock and leaving out the cheese.
Any Other Tips?
- If you want, you can fill the sweet potatoes and place back on the baking sheet, keeping them warm in a low oven (200 degrees or so) until ready to serve. If you are doing this, I recommend topping with cheese now so it gets melty in the oven!
- A note on serving size. If you are having a salad, or other side dish with this, then a half of a sweet potato per person will be enough. If it is a one-dish dinner, then you may want to roast a whole sweet potato per person, split it in two and top each side with the beans. You will get a little less bean filling per sweet potato half, but can make up for it with toppings.
- It is naturally gluten-free!
Chef Tip – On Roasting Sweet Potatoes
Watch me make this recipe
Black Bean Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
- 2 medium to large sweet potatoes
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small white onion
- 4 garlic cloves
- 1 red bell pepper diced
- 2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon allspice
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- Zest of 1 lime
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 1 can black beans drained
Optional For Serving
- Guacamole or cubed avocado
- Shredded cheese (such as a smoked cheddar, or Monterrey jack)
- Toasted pumpkin seeds
- Pickled jalapeno
- Chopped cilantro
- Hot sauce
- Preheat the oven to 350. Wash the sweet potatoes and scrub them if necessary, since you’ll be eating the skin. Poke a few holes in the potato with a sharp knife to allow the steam to escape while baking, and place on a baking sheet. Bake until soft and fully cooked, about an hour depending on the size of the sweet potato.
- While the potatoes are roasting, make your bean filling. Start by warming the oil in a medium saucepan. Saute the onion with a pinch of salt until softened, about 8-10 minutes. Add in the garlic, pepper, cumin, oregano, cinnamon, salt, allspice, and lime zest and cook for 1 minute, stirring. Add in the tomato paste and cook, stirring, for another minute, then pour in the chicken stock. Add the beans and bring to a low simmer. Taste for seasoning and add more salt if needed, and keep warm until the sweet potatoes are finished.
- To serve, Split the sweet potatoes in half lengthwise, and push the flesh around with the back side of a spoon to make room for the beans. Place in a shallow serving bowl and top with a scoop of black beans.Top as desired.