We had a meatless Tuesday last night (instead of the more common, Meatless Monday) simply because I never remember to pull any protein out of the freezer early in the week. It’s like my brain doesn’t start fully functioning after the weekend until Wednesday or Thursday. Then it’s off again by Friday! Ah, well…
This recipe was born out of staples. There are several things that I always have stocked in my kitchen for their sheer versatility and yumminess. (My computer is telling me that “yumminess” isn’t a word, but I assure you, it is.) These include black beans, quinoa, grits, Laughing Cow cheese wedges, feta, tomatoes, and greek yogurt (don’t even get me started on how versatile that is – I’ll talk for days!). Last night’s dinner came from a combination of three of those. I had leftover taco shells from the enchiladas I made this weekend (you’ve seen them here) and I had a hankering for some black bean tacos. I knew, however, that the boyfriend wasn’t going to be too keen on black bean tacos alone – “I get that we’re putting black beans on our tacos, but what kind of tacos are they?” – so I was going to have to make them interesting. I had seen a few recipes on the interwebs that incorporated black beans and sweet potatoes. Knowing that these two flavors would be delicious together, I decided to make my own version. I got a little crazy with the spices, added some Sriracha into my Mexican meal and hoped for the best…
GREAT. DECISION. These were SO delicious! Don’t change a thing!
…don’t even think about it.
Also, please excuse the HORRIBLE cell phone photos on this post. We’re still working on the whole “Oh yea, we have to photograph this before we devour it” thing. Often times we remember or decide to photograph it mid-meal (as we did here) so sometimes you get to see the remnants of the first half of our dinner. My apologies. I’m working on it. Sometime I just can’t contain my excitement and I dive in too soon, remembering mid-chew that I have a responsibility to document these types of things now!
Another thing this image didn’t capture was how PRETTY these tacos were! The yellow corn, the purply-black beans, the bright green cilantro, the firey orange sweet potatoes…. I could go on for days. They were quite possibly the prettiest thing I’ve ever had on my plate. They have me dreaming of summer vegetables in all their colorful glory! One month until the farmer’s market is back up and running!!
Black Bean & Sweet Potato Tacos with Spicy Aioli
small flour tortillas (we used 6″ tortillas)
For Sweet Potatoes:
1 large sweet potato, cut into small cubes (about 1/2″)
1 tbsp canola oil
2-3 tsp smoked paprika*
1 tsp garlic powder
1 can black beans (the unseasoned kind), rinsed and drained
1 can yellow corn
1/4 C chopped white onion
2 cubes frozen cilantro** (my secret ingredient, see below for note)
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp cumin
salt & pepper
For spicy aioli:
1/3 cup low-fat or 2% Greek yogurt
1 tbsp low fat mayo
3 tsp Emeril’s Southwest seasoning
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp smoked paprika*
1 tsp onion powder
2-3 tsp sriracha (adjust to your taste, but the heat is nice with the flavors)
feta cheese, crumbled
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
1) Toss your cubed sweet potato with the canola oil, smoked paprika, garlic powder and salt. Roast at 400 degrees for about 20 min or until soft.
2) In a bowl, combine all ingredients for the spicy aioli. You can use as much or as little sriracha as you would like, but don’t be afraid to go a little overboard here. My sauce was much spicier in the bowl than it seemed on the tacos and that little bit of heat was really nice against the sugary sweet potatoes. Combine until mixed. Put in fridge until tacos are ready.
3) In a saucepan or large skillet, combine all ingredients for the black bean and corn mixture – black beans, corn, chopped onion, garlic powder, cayenne, cumin and cubed cilantro**. Heat mixture until warm and onions have become soft. Salt and pepper to taste.
4) Assemble tacos. We found it easiest to swipe the hot sauce along the taco shell first, then scoop a few sweet potatoes and top with black bean mixture. Garnish with fresh onion, cilantro and a little feta cheese (or you can use cotija if you have it) Enjoy!!
* Smoked paprika is something I highly recommend you keep in your spice rack if you don’t have it already. I rolled my eyes for awhile when I’d heard this before, but it really does have a completely different flavor than traditional paprika – almost a sweet, smoky flavor. If you don’t have smoked paprika, substitute a chipotle powder or some sort of southwest seasoning. In this recipe, you won’t achieve the same flavor with regular paprika.
** “CUBED CILANTRO?? WHAT THE HECK IS THAT?!” I know, I know – it sounds ridiculous. Especially when I clearly have fresh cilantro on hand since I’m telling you to put it on your tacos, right? Dorot makes cubed fresh herbs that you can keep in your freezer. One cube = 1 tsp of fresh herbs. They are life savers, y’all, especially when you live alone! I pick them up at Trader Joe’s but I’m almost positive you could find them at any nicer grocery store. Right now I have the basil and cilantro because I find when I buy those two fresh, I struggle to use it all before it goes bad unless I’m making something like pesto or chimichurri, and I’m probably a crazy person for not buying the garlic. They taste really great and if you’re using the herbs in something it’s definitely worth it. They even reconstitute into little chopped leaves once they’ve broken down. I swear! Just get some. You won’t be sorry, I promise!
UPDATE: Okay, apparently I lied. It appears they only sell these products right now in stores like Earth Fare, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods and other “gourmet natural markets”. My apologies to all my Danvillians and Penhookers out there. Looks like a trip to Raleigh or Greensboro is calling! 🙂