Comfort food is different for all of us. For some, it’s a big bowl of macaroni and cheese, for others, it’s ice cream and chocolate sauce. Me? Sweet potatoes. For real. There is something so soothing and grounding about digging into one fresh out of the oven, loading it up with ghee, salt and cracked black pepper. It’s a simple dinner that saw me through my student years when I was living on a budget, held my hand when I dropped everything and moved across the world to Copenhagen, and continues to show me the love even now. Sweet potatoes are kind of like that favourite, threadbare white t-shirt, or the song I could listen to a thousand times without ever getting sick of it. Total comfort.
Well, this time I dressed up that white t-shirt with a cornucopia of yumminess: black beans, avocado, sprouts and my Red Blanket Sauce that will knock your woolen socks off. It’s the Big Comfy Sweet Potato and it’s simple, delicious and I reckon just the kind of thing that will make you feel pretty comfy too.
The toppings for the Big Comfy Sweet Potato are up to you. I was digging the cilantro, sprouts and green onion, but you could put all manner of delights into this one, depending on the season and what is available to you. Cherry tomatoes would be great, freshly shucked corn, bell peppers too. These are the perfect clean-out-the-fridge kind of dinner, because as long as you got your sweet potato, you have a blank canvas that will only get better with a little help from some other veggies buddies.
But if you really don’t have anything else on hand, the Red Blanket Sauce is killer. Just a plain sweet potato swaddled in this stuff is a proper meal. Super creamy and rich, and delicious draped across so many things – rice, lentils, roast veg – you name it. I tried to do a riff off of mole sauce, but I can’t claim to know anything about authentic Mexican cooking, so I’m going to avoid the comparison. What I do know, is that it tastes like a thousand layers of spice, herbs, sweet, savoury, tangy, bold, and chocolate-y without being chocolate-y…know what I mean? Guh. I want more.
Comfy Digestion with the Sweetest of Potatoes
Many people think that sweet potatoes are just regular potatoes that are orange, but they are in fact a completely different vegetable.
Compared to regular potatoes, sweet potatoes have oodles more vitamin A (in the form of beta-carotene), vitamin C and even more fiber. This means that sweet potatoes are excellent for your digestion. Sweet potatoes are composed mainly of starch, which is very easy to break down and is soothing for the stomach and intestines too. This makes them an ideal healing choice for those suffering from the pain and inflammation associated with stomach ulcers and irritable bowel syndrome. The roughage of sweet potatoes even prevents constipation. Comfy stuff!
Big Comfy Sweet Potatoes
4 medium-large sweet potatoes (organic, if possible)
1 ½ cups black beans (equivalent to 1 can)
1 ripe avocado
crumbled goat’s cheese
crushed chili flakes
1. Preheat oven to 400°F/200°C. Prick sweet potatoes a few times with a fork. Place on a baking sheet in the oven and roast for 30-45 minutes, depending on the size of the potato. You will know it’s done when a knife can easily pierce the skin and the center is soft.
2. Remove sweet potatoes from oven and slice each one down the center, almost through to the bottom. Open up to reveal its orange flesh.
3. Stuff the sweet potato with black beans and top it with avocado, and any other herbs, sprouts or veggies you like. Pour Red Blanket Sauce over the top. Serve and enjoy.
To learn how to cook your own black beans, please see my instructions here.
Red Blanket Sauce
Makes 2 cups
knob of coconut oil or ghee
1 medium onion / 150g
3 cloves garlic
14 oz can whole, organic tomatoes
1 tsp. ground cumin
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. dried thyme
¼ tsp. ground chipotle
pinch of cayenne, if desired
1-3 dates (depending on size and your taste)
2 Tbsp. raw cacao powder
1 Tbsp. nut butter or tahini
4 Tbsp. water, divided
1½ Tbsp. lime juice
1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt oil and add all spices. Cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about a minute. Add onions, a couple pinches of salt and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook another couple minutes. If the pot gets dry at any point, add a little of the tomato juice from the can.
2. Pour canned tomatoes into the pot and cook for 5 minutes. Season to taste.
3. Carefully transfer the tomato mixture to a blender. Add pitted dates, cacao powder, nut butter, lime juice and a couple tablespoons of the water. Blend on high, adding water to thin as needed, until desired consistency is reached. Season to taste.
4. Serve. Store leftovers in the fridge for up to one week.
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Speaking of easy and delicious, if any of you are still in the mood for a simple cleanse, check out my article in the February issue Oprah magazine! I wrote a 4-day detox plan with tasty recipes that are all really easy to make using basic ingredients . If January has passed you by without a little clean-up, now is your chance. The program is also available online, here. I hope you enjoy!