This sweet potato and black bean chilli what I reach to when I feel we need to re-set our eating a bit. It is easy to make, comforting to eat and works for my whole family. It is even better the day after you make it as the flavours mellow together.
This one-pan dish is great to make in bulk and freeze in individual portions to take to work or for quick heat-up-and-eat dinners. The sweet potato and black bean chilli will keep for 3 days in the fridge. We eat it with baked potatoes, frozen brown rice or as nachos. My boys often stuff wraps with avocado, grated carrot and the chilli. If I over-spice it, I just mix theirs with a bit of plain natural yoghurt.
Make it your own
Many of you have learned this sweet potato and black bean chilli with me in my cooking classes and I love hearing how many of you make it on a monthly basis. Make it you own – vary the type of meat or leave it out – change the beans, double them, leave out the quinoa, whatever you fancy this base recipe will be a keeper.
The crunchy raw vegetable slaw I serve it with balances out the comforting stew beautifully and also stands alone as a handy side to use with other dishes. See this video for how to store and use your slaw. If you can’t face making the slaw (and it really isn’t hard) then just dress some grated carrot and a handful of greens with the lime dressing.
Why this sweet potato and black bean chilli ticks all your nutrition boxes
I love that this dish has my protein from the beans, turkey and quinoa along with some healthy carbs in the form of the sweet potato, and good fat from the avocado I serve it with. The spices serve not only to add flavour but to add a ton of health benefits. Fennel seed is brilliant for aiding digestion. Cinnamon helps maintain steady blood sugar levels. Turmeric is anti-inflammatory. By adding a quick raw salad I know I’m ticking all my nutrition boxes.
A word on the spices…
I like to make this sweet potato and black bean chilli fragrant rather than spicy so that it appeals to my whole family. You’ll see in the recipe I give a range for the spice quantities. If you know you aren’t keen on big flavours and want to ease yourself in gently, make it first with the lower end of the quantity, then once it is cooked, taste it and add more spice until you’re happy with the flavour. You’ll need to continue to cook it for 10-15 minutes if adding extra spice at the end to make sure the spices cook into the sauce and mellow out.
Sweet potato and black chilli ingredients (serves 4-6)
1 tablespoon olive or rapeseed oil
Optional – 450g (1lb) of minced (ground) turkey thigh – ground breast is too dry for the long cooking here
1 large red onion
4 cloves garlic
3 fist sized sweet potatoes, left unpeeled but well scrubbed
2-3 teaspoons ground cumin
1-2 tablespoons smoked paprika
2-3 teaspoons ground coriander
1-2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1-2 teaspoons fennel seeds
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
around 800g (28oz) canned diced salt-free tomatoes
1-2 cans of black beans, drained (in the UK buy them from the International section at Tesco or Sainsburys, or Epicure from Waitrose)
Juice and zest of 2 limes
optional: 80g (half a cup) of un-cooked quinoa
¼ of a red cabbage, shredded
1 bulb fennel, shredded
4 carrots, shredded
Juice and zest of 1-2 limes
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
avocado, lime wedges, coriander (cilantro), grated cheese, warmed tortillas or pitta bread
To make sweet potato and black bean chilli:
If you’re making this without turkey, skip stages 2 and 3.
- Heat the oil in a large saucepan or Le Creuset style heavy pan. Preheat the oven to 170°C (150°C fan).
- Turn the heat up to medium-high and then flatten the minced turkey into a large hamburger shape between two pieces of parchment or foil before adding to the pan to brown. You want to meat to develop a good golden crust so avoid the temptation to move it. It will never get brown if you move it!
- After 5 minutes, flip the meat and start to break up the meat using the side of a metal spoon. Break it into chunks that around the size of a walnut.
- While your meat cooks, finely dice the onion and chop the garlic. See my garlic chopping and onion chopping videos to learn how to do it quickly and safely.
- Add the onion to the browned meat. Stir well then cook on a low heat for around 10 minutes, until the onion is golden and soft but not brown. Stir every 2 minutes.
- While your onion cooks, chop the unpeeled sweet potato into 1cm pieces and set aside.
- Once the onion is soft, add garlic, cocoa, spices (cumin, smoked paprika, coriander, cinnamon, fennel seeds) and a pinch of sea salt. Cook for 5 mins on a low heat.
- Add the sweet potato, beans, tomatoes and one of the empty tomato cans filled with warm water. If you’re adding the raw quinoa, add it now too but add an extra can of water as well.
- Bring the stew up to the boil then pop a lid on the pan and cook it in the oven for two hours. Low and slow gives a more mellow flavour.
- While your stew cooks, make your slaw by shredding all the vegetables (see this how to video) and mix them with lime juice and zest, salt and pepper to taste.
- Just before serving, taste and adjust the seasoning. I usually need to add more salt and pepper at this stage, and sometimes more of the other spices (see note in the intro). The most transformative part is to add lime juice and zest or red wine vinegar right before serving.
- Serve in a bowl topped with the slaw and cubes of avocado. My boys love it with Feta or Cheddar cheese grated on top. They stuff theirs into toasted pitta or have the chilli as nachos. I usually have mine with just the slaw or with some brown rice. Leftovers can be left to cool then kept in the fridge for 3 days or frozen in single portions then reheated in the microwave until piping hot.
You can now buy the equipment I use in this recipe through my shop. I’ve spent years testing my favourite bits of equipment so rest-assured that whatever I recommend is the best tool for the job and will give you great results without cluttering your kitchen with unused tools.
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