Sweet Potato and Black Bean Stew with Quinoa and Kale

January 18, 2018 |

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Mexican Sweet Potato and Black Bean StewI don’t know if it’s the extreme cold in NYC, the move, or the fact that my roommate has been out of town a lot recently, but I realized yesterday that I’ve spun quiiiite the self-soothing cocoon over the past few weeks.

It’s nice in here. Cozy. Not super exciting, but that’s kind of the point.

Just in case we’re similar creatures, I’m gonna dish on my cocoon should you wish to borrow its threads to build your own.

(This metaphor is already out of hand, but roll with your weird blog lady, dammit.)

Inside the cocoon, leggings and turtlenecks are all the rage. Baths are a little boozier warmer and longer, and all entertainment is of the familiar/nostalgic variety. (I’m currently re-watching Grey’s Anatomy from the beginning and listening to Harry Potter audiobooks on shuffle.) It is acceptable to brave the outside world for #fitnessjourney, groceries, and healthy socializing, but in the case of the latter, all efforts are made to lure others into the cocoon. Because like I said, it’s nice in here. COZY.

Mexican Sweet Potato and Black Bean StewThe most important part of cocoon living is obviously the food, which also has a comforting bent. Minus the morning smoothies, most meals are hot, healthy(ish), and relatively fuss-free. I’m particularly fond of one-pot/pan wonders like chili, curry, and stew using whatever happens to be hanging out in my fridge. A lot of my “creations” are one-time events, but occasionally a new favorite is born like this Sweet Potato and Black Bean Stew with Quinoa and Kale.

Mexican Sweet Potato and Black Bean StewThis recipe may not be groundbreaking, but it’s easy and tastes unbelievably amazing, which is what’s important in our everyday lives, amiright?

Now that I’m thinking about it, this stew sort of tastes like a deconstructed of these enchiladas but with a smoky red sauce. It’s got that glorious sweet and savory flavor combo going for it with a subtle, chipotle-induced kick. (You know I love me some chipotles in adobo.) The toppings are optional, but not really because hot DAMN. Fresh cilantro, crunchy tortilla chips (I used the Siete foods grain-free chips which I’m really into right now), and the creamy tang of goat cheese add all kinds of magic to each bowl, so I implore you to live a little.

Mexican Sweet Potato and Black Bean StewWhat I love most about this nutrient-packed recipe (plant-based protein, and fiber, and antioxidants, oh my!) is that it’s wonderfully low-maintenance. There’s very little prep other than chopping the onion and sweet potato, and then you just dump, stir, and simmer. Even the quinoa cooks in the stew. MAGIC! Start to finish in 45 minutes, I promise, and only 15 of those minutes are hands-on.

Just a few quick notes and you do you options before I go. This stew is really a template, people, and it couldn’t be easier to adapt. Any type of beans will work, and use whatever greens float your boat (spinach, dinosaur kale, chard, etc.). You can also sub butternut squash for sweet potatoes if you’re so inclined.

The stew is naturally vegan sans optional cheese topping—and I really urge you to keep it vegetarian—but if you must have meat, you could easily add some diced chicken sausage or shredded chicken into the mix. In fact, paleo peeps and Whole30-ers, you can replace the beans with meat and leave out the quinoa. And for the record, my roommate ate it for dinner, loved it, and then asked two hours later if it had meat in it. I said no, and he said he “suspected it did not,” but he didn’t voice any meat-free concerns at the time, so I’d go ahead and say it will appeal to most Dude Dieters. Virtual chest bump.

Mexican Sweet Potato and Black Bean StewAnd now, I’m off to sassy desk lunch on leftover stew. Sending delicious and fuzzy vibes from my cocoon to yours!

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Stew with Quinoa and Kale (Serves 4)

Mexican Sweet Potato and Black Bean StewIngredients:
1½ tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
½ medium yellow onion, minced
4 garlic cloves, minced
Kosher salt
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
¾ teaspoon ground cumin
1 chipotle pepper canned in adobo, minced (1 single pepper from the can, people. Not the whole can!)
1 tablespoon adobo sauce from the chipotle can
1 large sweet potato, cut into ¾-inch cubes (about 3½ cups cubed sweet potatoes)
One 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
One 15-ounce can tomato puree
3 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
1/3 cup uncooked quinoa
4 packed cups baby kale or spinach
Juice of ½ lime
For serving: (optional)
2-3 ounces crumbled goat cheese
Freshly chopped cilantro leaves
Crumbled tortilla chips


-Heat the olive oil in a medium Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed soup pot over medium heat. When the oil is hot and shimmering, add the onion, garlic, and a pinch of salt and cook for about 5 minutes until the onions are very soft and translucent. (Be very careful not to burn the onions and garlic, people!! If they start to brown at all, turn down the heat immediately.)

-Add the smoked paprika and cumin and cook for 1 minute to get the spices nice and toasty. Add the chipotle adobo sauce, sweet potato, black beans, tomato puree and broth to the pot. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes until the sweet potatoes are beginning to soften.

-Stir in the quinoa and simmer for 15 minutes more until the grains and sweet potatoes are tender.

-Stir in the baby kale or spinach and the lime juice and cook just until the greens have wilted. Taste and season with extra salt if necessary.

-Ladle the stew into bowls, garnish with goat cheese, cilantro, and crumbled tortilla chips, and serve piping hot.

Mexican Sweet Potato and Black Bean Stew

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  1. Nilu on January 20, 2018 at 8:32 pm

    Made this and it was fantastic! Thanks so much. Quick question – do you think this could be adapted for a Instant Pot? How long/high would you recommend it be cooked?

    • Serena Wolf on January 24, 2018 at 10:46 am

      So happy to hear this was a success! I’m so sorry, but I don’t have an Instant Pot (shameful, I know), so I can’t provide any guidance on that front. However, this is similar to a sweet potato and black bean chili, so I’d google an Instant Pot recipe for that and apply that timing to this recipe!

  2. Jan on January 19, 2018 at 12:43 pm

    ha ha, we decided to take a trip in our travel trailer cocoon to texas to warm up. joke’s on me, it’s warmer in Abq than s. texas!
    but, i made your sweet potato noodle bowl last night and it was mahvelous! used chicken breasts cubed small and they were perfect. on the compact trailer trip theme, we had mini packets of guac and put that on top of the bowls of goodies and it hit the spot too. thanks!

  3. Christine on January 18, 2018 at 1:48 pm

    I’m currently watching Grey’s Anatomy as well!

    • Serena Wolf on January 18, 2018 at 1:57 pm

      YES!! It’s such a good re-watch, although I forgot how stressful the Denny arc was. V. intense.

  4. Nicole Persico on January 18, 2018 at 1:45 pm

    Would this work in a crock pot? How long would you suggest? You had me when you said these taste like the enchiladas – those things are my FAV.

    • Serena Wolf on January 18, 2018 at 1:56 pm

      I think it would! The sweet potatoes might be on the extremely mushy side, but that’s no biggie.

  5. GF on January 18, 2018 at 12:48 pm

    omg this sounds amazing. I, too, have been cocooning, and this recipe seems PERFECT for that. looking forward to making soon to up the coziness factor even further

    • Serena Wolf on January 18, 2018 at 1:43 pm

      Yes!!! Cocoons 4ever. I hope this is a great cozy success!

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