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I’ve been making variations on these easy sweet potato tacos in my steam oven for a while now. It’s partly down to our ongoing household efforts to eat less meat, but mostly just because they taste fantastic and I can have an entire nutritious meal of the table inside of half an hour.
They’re a bit of a unicorn meal, by which I mean they are one of those rare dishes which are not only dead simple but every person in the house will happily eat. Tacos in general are a winner here (because where are they not?!), and a completely vegetarian version is always welcome.
The tacos started out as a sweet-potato-only thing but I’ve gradually shifted to add more textural interest, so they’re more accurately described now as sweet potato and black bean tacos. I keep those two elements (and all the others) separate so fussy children can choose which fillings appeal to them.
You can cook the filling for these tacos in a conventional oven or a combi steam oven. I’ve done both. The big differences are in how much oil you need to coat the sweet potato (little to none in the steam oven), and how fast the potatoes roast (about half an hour conventional heat vs only 20 minutes in combi steam).
Other delicious meat-free dinners:
Mediterranean Vegetable and Haloumi Bake (a 20 minute dinner!)
What ingredients do you need for sweet potato tacos?
There are a couple of non-negotiable ingredients for this recipe, along with lots of interchangeable ones. I’ve written it up with the accompaniments we like best, but I’ll also list some other ideas below if you want to make substitutions.
Obviously you’re going to need sweet potatoes for your tacos. I always use orange sweet potato because it’s colorful and, I think, tastes a bit sweeter than the white variety, but they’ll cook up pretty much the same.
Tossing the sweet potato in a simple spice mix gives it incredible flavor and depth, so I don’t recommend skipping this part, but you can always adjust the heat up or down depending on how spicy you like things. We use chipotle chili powder but cayenne or another type of chili powder will work well. Chipotle powder is what I’d call a mild to medium heat, so be mindful that you might not want the same quantity if you’re using other chili powders.
Black beans are my other essential, though my kids prefer to go without them. If you want to make things very easy for yourself you can just buy a can of refried beans and warm those, but I like the rougher texture of warming and mashing my own. Kidney beans or borlotti beans would make decent substitutes.
With those soft, earthy ingredients, you need something to brighten up the tacos and add a little texture. I make a cheat’s slaw with red cabbage, scallions/spring onions, mayonnaise and lime juice (use vegan mayo or a vinaigrette to go vegan with your tacos). It’s bright in color and flavor, and the crunch of the cabbage is nice against the sweet potato and beans.
Then, feta cheese brings little hits of saltiness to the tacos, though you can skip it for a vegan meal.
We use soft flour tortillas for this dish but what you wrap your tacos is in up to you. Try crispy taco shells or corn tortillas if flour ones don’t appeal.
Those are my basic inclusions, here are a few other ideas to mix and match as you please:
Avocado, either sliced or mashed into guacamole
Lightly pickled onions. Drop sliced red onions into an equal parts mix of water and white or cider vinegar, a teaspoon of sugar and a teaspoon of salt. Leave to stand for half an hour (or up to several days), then scatter the onions over your filled tacos.
Sour cream (a must for my kids anytime tacos are on the table)
Toasted walnuts, sliced almonds or pumpkin seeds
Shredded iceberg or baby gem lettuce
How to make sweet potato and black bean tacos
Let’s do this!
The ingredient list looks long but I promise it comes together quickly. You’ll be able to prepare the other fillings while the sweet potatoes cook, and once everything is sliced and mixed it’s just a simple assembly job. I like to let everyone assemble their own because a) it’s more fun and b) it’s less work for the server!
Firstly, preheat your oven and make sure your sweet potatoes are cut into cubes. Mix up the spices and toss the sweet potato with these and the oil. Get that into the oven.
While the sweet potatoes are roasting, drain the beans, leaving 2-3 tablespoons worth of liquid behind. This will make it easier to mash the beans once they’re warmed through. Pop the beans and liquid into a separate oven dish and set aside.
Get all your other ingredients sliced, crumbled or chopped and, if you like, mix the slaw ingredients together. The earlier you do this the more the cabbage will bleed, so I try to time it so I’ve got it all ready and am mixing it just a couple of minutes before serving.
When the sweet potatoes are almost cooked through, add the beans to the oven so they can heat through, then give them a rough mash so there are some smooth bits and some whole beans. Taste and season the beans if they need a little salt. They’re not going to look too appealing but I really think they’re an essential part of the meal, and they kind of hide under all the prettier, more colorful fillings.
Get the sweet potato into a bowl and the beans into another, and put everything on the table.
Time to eat!
Happy cooking, see you here again soon.
Recipe: Sweet Potato Tacos
I don’t peel my sweet potatoes for this dish, although you can. I like the fact that more nutrients stay in the potatoes but more than that, I can’t be bothered peeling them when they’re just as tasty with the skin on! If you peel sweet potatoes out of habit, try not doing it just this once and see if you like it – my bet is you’ll barely notice the difference.
For the tacos
2-3 sweet potatoes (about 1½ lbs/750g), unpeeled, cut into ½ inch/1½cm cubes
2 tbs olive oil (optional, but a little is nice to help with browning)
1 tsp flaky sea salt
1 ½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp ground coriander
½ tsp paprika
½ tsp garlic powder
1 tsp chipotle powder (or cayenne pepper, adjust quantity to taste)
1 x 15oz/400g can black beans
¼ red cabbage, finely sliced
2 scallions/spring onions, finely sliced
2 tbs mayonnaise
3oz/90g feta cheese, crumbled
Sliced avocado, cilantro/coriander leaves, hot sauce or sour cream (all optional, choose what appeals to you)
12 x 6”/15cm flour tortillas, warmed
Method – combi steam
1. Preheat oven to 400°F/200°C, combination steam setting. If your oven has variable steam settings, use 50%. If not, don’t worry! Just set to combi steam at the correct temperature and the oven will work out the humidity for you.
2. Toss the sweet potatoes with the olive oil, salt, spices, onion, garlic and chili powders until all the cubes are evenly coated. Spread this mixture out in a parchment paper-lined shallow pan. Use two pans if you need to – the sweet potato should be in a single layer.
3. Roast the sweet potatoes for 20 minutes. While they’re cooking, drain the black beans of most of their liquid. You want to try to leave behind around 2-3 tbs liquid. Put the beans and liquid into another pan and when the 20 minutes is up for the potatoes, add this pan to the oven. Set your timer for a further 5 minutes, by which time the beans should be hot and sweet potatoes tender and browned at the edges.
4. Put the sweet potatoes into a warmed bowl and set aside. Roughly mash the beans directly in the pan. I find a potato masher easiest for this but a fork will work too. You want them to be mostly crushed but with a bit of texture left. Taste and add a little salt if you need to (I never do, the salt from the canning liquid seems to be enough, but you do you). Put the beans into another warmed bowl.
5. Mix together the red cabbage, scallions, mayonnaise, a pinch of salt and the juice of a lime. You can do this up to a couple of hours ahead but the cabbage will bleed its color, so I prefer to do it at the last minute. Cut the remaining limes into wedges for serving.
6. Put the sweet potato, beans, dressed cabbage, feta and any other accompaniments on the table, along with the warmed tortillas. You can either make up the tortillas and serve, or, my preference, let everyone help themselves and add as much or as little of each filling as they like.
Method – conventional oven
Prepare exactly as per the method above, except:
1. In step 1, preheat oven to 400°F/200°C.
2. In step 3, cook the sweet potatoes for about 30 minutes, and the beans for about 10 minutes.
Over to you – if you try this recipe I’d love to know about it! Share your comments below or on Facebook, tag @steamandbake on Instagram, or pin all your favourite Steam and Bake recipes over on Pinterest!
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