When I entered the courtyard of the Historic Y to pick up my Tucson CSA share this week, I was incredibly happy to see sweet potatoes waiting for me. There have been so many times when I’ve eaten a baked sweet potato or roasted sweet potato wedges and called it dinner. I never feel like I’m missing out because sweet potatoes are always so satisfying and hearty. When roasted with a little bit of olive oil, their natural sugars caramelize and create a rich and unparalleled sweetness. As you’ve probably realized, sweet potatoes are also great when they’re paired with other foods. Broccoli, chickpeas, honey, and Greek yogurt are just a few of my favorite things to eat sweet potatoes with. However, my absolutely favorite way to eat sweet potatoes is with grains, beans, and fresh vegetables piled on top. You may have heard of this concept, often called a loaded baked potato.
Loaded baked potatoes are a go-to meal for so many reasons. Besides the fact that they’re filling, easy to make, and flavorful, they can also be incredibly nutritious. Although the baked potatoes you find on most restaurant menus are laden with butter, cheese, and bacon, potatoes are also a great base for whole grains, colorful vegetables, and herbs.
Sweet potatoes are a great substitute in traditional baked potato recipes because they offer more flavor, vitamins, and minerals than Russet potatoes do. These Stuffed Sweet Potatoes with Tomato and Avocado Relish begins with sweet potato halves roasted with olive oil and sea salt for twenty minutes. Cutting the sweet potato in half lengthwise before roasting it also cuts the cooking time in half, which in my book is always a good thing. The caramelized sweet potato is then mashed in its skin and stuffed with protein-packed quinoa, organic black beans, and a tomato-avocado relish that is made with sweet local cherry tomatoes, creamy avocado, and fresh corn. The result is a quick and easy lunch or dinner that is brimming with bright flavors and nutrients.
Shelby Thompson is a recent graduate of the University of Arizona. When she isn’t working her day job, Shelby can be found practicing in the yoga studio, playing ball with her black lab Cola, and cooking in the kitchen. Her blog, thesunandthespoon.com, aims to provide nutritious, plant-based recipes for fellow food lovers. She greatly enjoys the wide array of local food and talent in Tucson.