The other potato
Ipomoea batatas, better known as sweet potato, is not related to the potato at all, nor is it a yam species even though in Canada and the US it is commonly called such. While all three are similarly satisfying, sweet potatoes are loaded with nutrients and have fewer calories than either potatoes or yams. What’s more, they are delicious and extraordinarily versatile.
I have loved sweet potatoes ever since I had them in a candied sweet potato casserole at my first American Thanksgiving meal in 1962, cloyingly sweet but interesting. Since then, with the help of the internet, I discovered that, from appetizer to dessert, there is no limit to what you can make with them. Some of my favourite finds include a wonderfully spicy “green curry and lentil soup” (punchfork.com), a gluten-free “sweet potato crust quiche” (amindfullmom.com), and a sumptuous “baked sweet potato pudding” (thespruceeats.com).
The quick and easy stew recipe below came to me all at once after I had thought and read about sweet potatoes for weeks. It is gluten-free, happens to be vegan, and my daughter and I like it a lot—I hope you will too.
Sweet potato, black bean, corn, and tomato stew
Serves 2 generously
1 tablespoon (15 ml) olive oil
1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 medium onion, cut lengthwise in ½ cm wedges (1/2 cup/125 ml)
1 small fresh, red Fresno pepper, seeded and sliced (about 2 teaspoons/10 ml) or to taste
3 large fresh, peeled Roma tomatoes, quartered (about 2 cups/500 ml) or one 540ml can
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cut into roughly 2.5 cm chunks (about 1 1/2 cups/375 ml)
1 1/2 cups (375 ml) cooked, drained black beans
1/4 cup (65 ml) bean cooking water
1 cup (250 ml) raw or frozen corn kernels
Salt and black pepper, to taste
Optional: Fresh lime juice and fresh, chopped cilantro for garnish
Assemble all the ingredients.
Over medium-high heat, sauté the cumin in the oil until fragrant, add the hot pepper and onion and continue sautéing until the onion begins to brown. Add the tomatoes and cook until they release their juice, about 5 minutes. Add the sweet potatoes, bean cooking water, salt, and pepper, bring to a boil and cook, covered, over low heat until done, about 10 to 15 minutes.
Add the black beans and heat thoroughly over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes, then add the corn kernels and cook until done, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and serve with optional lime juice and cilantro.