Growing up in a tiny mountain town in Colorado with a father who grew up on a dairy farm in Iowa, there weren’t many meals that didn’t include some form of meat. Our weekly dinner menu was a veritable buffet of steak and chicken and my meaty favorite, barbecued pork ribs. Don’t get me wrong, we ate our fair share of vegetables too (I was never a child that needed my veggies hidden in my food…I’ve been eating brussels sprouts willingly long before they were showing up on every menu in NYC), but if a vegetarian dinner option was ever considered, the standard response from my dear father was always, ‘where’s the beef?’ (thanks for that one, Wendy’s). Alas, vegetables remained a side dish throughout most of my youth.
Now that I’m grown and taking care of myself, I don’t have the voice of my father in my ear any longer when planning meals, so I can be a bit more flexible in my choices. I’m not going too crazy here, I’m still a carnivore in my bones (sorry, vegans), but I do try to incorporate at least a few vegetarian meals into my menu each week. I find that vegetables are so versatile, with the right spices and cooking treatment, you can turn out a meal that is both as filling as a meat-based dish and just as delicious.
Case in point, this little ditty here. First of all you should know that I have a deep love of tacos. Put anything in a tortilla and toss some guac and hot sauce on top and I’m a happy girl. I used to make a version of this when I was in college (in quesadilla form), and I always loved it. The combination of the sweetness of the sweet potatoes with the saltiness of the goat cheese plus the freshness of the lime — it’s a truly delicious winner. Throw in the smokiness of the paprika and it almost has a BBQ flavor to it.
No matter whether you’re a regular meat eater or you’re dedicated to your veggies, you’ll enjoy this take on the beloved taco, no doubt returning to the stove for seconds (and thirds if we’re being honest).
Spice-Roasted Sweet Potato Tacos with Honey & Lime, adapted from Cooking Classy
You will need:
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
¼ teaspoon ground coriander
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 small yellow onion, cut in half and sliced into thin half moons
1 clove garlic, minced
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can sweet corn, drained
3 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 avocado, chopped
fresh goat cheese
fresh cilantro, chopped
corn or flour tortillas, warmed
OK, let’s do this. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees and take out a large baking sheet. Spread your diced sweet potatoes out on the baking sheet in a single layer, and toss with 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Combine the cumin, paprika, coriander and cayenne pepper in a small bowl and sprinkle spice mixture over sweet potatoes. Season with sea salt and black pepper and toss until sweet potatoes are thoroughly coated with the spices (I recommend using two forks to do this so you don’t get the cayenne pepper on your hands. If you use your hands, wash them thoroughly with soap and hot water immediately). Roast the sweet potatoes for about 15 minutes, tossing once half way through the cooking process. Once cooked, turn off the oven and leave sweet potatoes inside to keep warm until you need them.
While the sweet potatoes are roasting, heat the other 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet or sauté pan. Once hot, add the onions and cook until very soft and golden brown, stirring often, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook one additional minute. Then, add the beans and corn and stir to incorporate.
When the veggies are warm, add the honey and lime, and if you like, a few dashes of hot sauce (I very like). Stir to incorporate and cook 2-3 minutes until liquid reduces. Add the sweet potatoes to the rest of the veggies and stir. Taste to ensure seasoning is sufficient and try not to swoon (it’s that good, I swear).
Warm tortillas in the microwave between two damp paper towels for 30 seconds. Dish the veggies onto your tortillas and top with additional hot sauce, a squeeze of lime, the goat cheese, the chopped avocado, and the cilantro. Try to keep yourself from shoveling it into your mouth before you get to the table because it is so, so very delicious.
Alternatively, if you don’t want to go the taco route, this would be great in a tortilla-less bowl format with all the fixin’s on top.
Enjoy! Hooray vegetables!