Thursday, February 28, 2008

A Sweet Potato or a Yam?/Sweet Potato Black Bean Wraps

Since the question came up in the comments yesterday and I had sweet potato (or a yam?) in my dinner last night, I thought I'd tackle this topic today. While the sweet potato and yam are technically different vegetables, in the United States the terms are used interchangeably. So, if you buy a yam, you are most likely buying a sweet potato. And if you buy a sweet potato, you are, in fact, buying a sweet potato. I'm guessing that there are probably some places where you could actually buy a yam if you wanted to, but most mainstream grocery stores carry only sweet potatoes. Here is a link that explains the history of this name-calling, and illustrates the differences of the two:

http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/plantanswers/vegetables/sweetpotato.html

Whatever you choose to call them, they are delicious and very good for you. I think there are many people who have only experienced sweet potatoes baked into a casserole with some goopy marshmallow topping served at the Thanksgiving dinner table. I feel very sorry for these people. Here's a recipe I use when I want to make a quick dinner on a week night. I was skeptical the first time I sauteed a sweet potato in a similar mixture. I thought it would take really long time to cook, but it really doesn't.

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Wraps
2 tblsp olive oil
1 medium sized onion, chopped
1 large red or yellow pepper, chopped
1 medium sized sweet potato, diced small
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 14 oz cans black beans ( kidney beans would be o.k. too)
1 cup frozen corn kernels (optional)
2 cups kale or spinach, chopped (also optional, but a good way to sneak in some greens)
2 tspns cider vinegar (optional - gives a nice tang)
1 tblsp cumin
1 teaspoon cilantro
pinch of cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste
feta or cheddar cheese (optional)
white or brown basmati rice
Whole wheat tortilla wraps

1. Put the rice on. White will take 15-20 minutes and brown 40ish minutes
2. Sautee onion, garlic and red or yellow pepper in olive oil for about 5 minutes.
3. Add sweet potato, cumin, cilantro and cayenne pepper. Cook until potatoes are tender. You will probably need to add splashes of water or veggie broth to keep the pan moist and help the potatoes to cook faster.
4. Add black beans, corn (if using), spinach or kale (if using), cider vinegar (if using), salt and pepper and cook another 5-10 minutes until beans are heated through and the spinach or kale has cooked down. You can put a lid on the pan if you're using the spinach or kale as this will help to wilt it more quickly.
5. Lay out wraps on individual plates. Place some rice in the bottom and then spoon sweet potato mixture on top. Sprinkle cheese on top, if using. You could also use salsa if you'd like.

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