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Sweet potatoes with black beans

Sat, 10 April, 2021

Black bean stuffed sweet potatoes with melted cheese, served with sour cream topping and sliced avocado - what a healthy and delicious vegetarian meal! Vegan, if you use dairy free cheese and cream.

Vegetarian? Oh yes, even though I’m not. It’s a thoroughly outdated concept that being vegetarian limits your options. There is so much plant food, plus an odd egg and a chunk of cheese, I really would not miss meat much if I decided to go down that way.

sweet potatoes with spicy black beans

Are sweet potatoes still trendy?

Sweet potatoes were all the rage a few years ago – you couldn’t move for sweet potato fries in all the hipster cafes. Now? God knows. I have not been to a café, hipster or otherwise, for a year because of the pandemic. Things are on hold; we shall see when it passes.

So I reproduce hipster cafes at home, to give myself a taster of something different than my usual fodder and the recipe for loaded sweet potatoes with spiced black beans and a sprinkling of Cheddar sounds different enough for me to try.

baked sweet potatoes with beans and cheese

Loaded potatoes

This kind of dish is called ‘loaded sweet potatoes’ in America. ‘Loaded’ means filled or stuffed; it’s an American expression I like very much for the amusement value: ‘loaded nachos: pow! pow!’ Full metal jacket! Of the cartoon variety rather than real life, I rush to add.

Loaded potato skins, wedges, it all sounds amusing but comforting at the same time – because what on earth, when filled with cheese, isn’t comforting?

I didn’t realise how easy sweet potatoes were to bake, halved lengthwise. Much easier than ordinary potatoes, they soften nicely in the middle and marvellously char around the edges.

I could really have them just like that, baked with a dollop of butter melting in the centre, and a large pinch of salt flakes on top of the butter. But the recipe that inspired this dish, from NY Times Cooking, adds more to the veggie bliss: black beans which are a/ underused in the UK and b/ a great source of protein.

loaded sweet potato halves

Easy comfort dish

This is a dish that cooks itself: the sweet potatoes take a longish while to bake but not as long as ordinary spuds. In the meantime I zing up the beans with spices, red pepper, garlic and tomato puree.

They can be as spicy or as mild as you wish them to be. The same goes for garlickiness and tomato levels. I like them quite hot – to offset the relative blandness of the sweet potatoes.

baked sweet potatoes with black bean and cheese topping

Variants of the recipe

Ordinary potato? Absolutely, only they will take longer to bake and I’d advise to bake them whole, with the skin pricked all over. There will be a need for more beans and more cheese with normal spuds: they are much drier and starchier (and more calorific!).

Different kind of beans will work as well though I like the colour contrast with the small black beans. I suppose red kidney ones will look good too.

The sour cream topping

It’s a homemade variety of Mexican crema which I am desperately in love with. Crema is a mix of double and soured cream, thickened and set with lemon or lime juice, seasoned with sea salt. Whenever I make a pot of it, I end up putting it on everything I’d otherwise put mayo on – or everything, full stop. With this dish, it’s a must to serve.

Sweet potatoes with black beans

Servings: 2-4Time: 1 hour


  • 2 large sweet potatoes, about 300g (10 oz.) each
  • salt
  • olive oil
  • 1 x 400g (14 oz.) tin of black beans
  • ½ red pepper
  • ½ tsp cumin seeds
  • ½ tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 tbsp. tomato puree
  • black pepper
  • chipotle chilli paste (optional)
  • 125g (1 cup) grated Cheddar
  • For the topping:
  • 3 tbsp. soured cream
  • 1 tbsp. plain yoghurt
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • sliced avocado, to serve


1. Preheat the oven to 210C/425F/gas 7. Line a baking tray with parchment.

2. Scrub and dry the sweet potatoes, don’t peel them. Slice each in half lengthwise. Sprinkle all over with salt and brush with olive oil on both sides. Place them cut side down on the parchment. Bake for 40-45 minutes until cooked through and soft.

baked sweet potatoes

3. Drain the beans, rinse with cold water and shake off on a sieve. Core and finely dice the red pepper.

4. Grind the cumin seeds with the dried thyme and smoked paprika in a pestle and mortar. Pour into a dry skillet and toast on medium heat until fragrant and lightly smoking.

5. Add 2 tbsp. olive oil to the skillet and press the garlic cloves into the oil and spices. Stir in the tomato puree and cook for half a minute. Add the drained beans and mix with the spice and pepper base. Cook for a minute to warm them up, taste and season with salt and black pepper. Stir in the chipotle paste, if using.

cooking black beans

6. Prepare the topping: stir the cream with the yoghurt in a small bowl, add a pinch of salt and lemon juice. It can be made ahead and left to stand at room temperature to thicken.

7. When the potatoes are ready, remove the tray from the oven and turn the halves over. Flatten them a little with a fork. Sprinkle half the cheese over the potatoes, spoon the beans and cover with the remaining cheese. Return the tray to the oven for 5 minutes, until the cheese has melted.

loaded potatoes

8. Serve with the cream topping and sliced avocado.

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Hello! I'm Anna Gaze, the Cuisine Fiend. Welcome to my recipe collection.

I have lots of recipes for you to choose from: healthy or indulgent, easy or more challenging, quick or involved - but always tasty.


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