In this lull between the two biggest cooking holidays of the year, we are looking for some quick and easy meals. November and December feature cranberry sauce and sage-laced stuffings, and lots of meal planning. So on the nights that we aren't hosting or being hosted, it's a relief to eat something simple, that doesn't taste like stuffing or gravy.
That's when a little spicy Mexican flavor can be a nice break. So try these taco-topped sweet potatoes, for a veggie-rich meal that everyone can enjoy.
Why sweet potatoes? At this precise moment, the sweet potato is the vegetable that works for everyone. Vegans love it, gluten-free folks can enjoy it, and even the Paleos see its charms. The sweet potato has sidestepped the "empty carb" rap that white potatoes get (unfairly, in my opinion) by possessing tons of fiber, being low on the glycemic index, and offering up plenty of potassium, vitamin A, and other vitamins and minerals.
Anytime I turn on the oven, I like to throw in a couple of sweet potatoes, and set myself up with a versatile prep item. Mash one to use in a muffin, cake or other baked treat. Chop one and top it with your favorite toppings, and have it for lunch. Slice a cold sweet potato over a green salad, and top with toasted nuts and vinaigrette. Toss some into a soup to thicken it, or purée it into a creamy sauce. Microwave sweet potatoes for breakfast and drizzle with maple syrup, or scramble them with eggs.
Or just warm up the sweet potato and top it with taco fillings, like in this recipe.
For a fast and easy protein, I went with beefy "crumbles," a mock meat you can find in the frozen section of your supermarket. I used Beyond Meat, or Boca, and other brands are easy to find. These kinds of crumbles are quick and easy to use. Simply pour them directly from the freezer bag into the sauté pan and warm them up. Alternatively, you can open up a can of black or pinto beans to use here, too.
The salsa employs my go-to winter tomato, the grape tomato, which has flavor all-year-round.
Make a simple meal out of sweet potatoes tonight, and keep a few around for the rest of the week.
Robin Asbell is a cooking instructor and author of "Big Vegan" and "Plant-Based Meats: Hearty, High-Protein Recipes." Find her at robinasbell.com.