Thursday, 12 December 2013

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Enchiladas

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Enchiladas

This black bean and sweet potato enchilada recipe is a definite meat-free favourite with everyone I know. You really won't miss the meat, which is good as I've been hearing a few scary statistics lately on the present and future status of meat. Combined with my love for beautiful data visualisation and journalist's increasing reliance on data mining for a unique scoop, I've decided to introduce my first infographic onto the scene, on the topic of...meat! Keep an eye out for my soon-to-come feature article, where I'll be discussing the future of the meat industry, and the implications for our health, environment, and economy.

Meanwhile, these baked enchiladas will turn even the most hardcore meat-eaters. Carnivore to the core? We'll see about that.

There is bags of flavour and tonnes of nutrients from these vegetarian enchiladas. The mix of spinach, black beans, sweet potato, tomatoes and onions provides you with a variety of nutrients (adhering to the 'eat your way around the rainbow' style diet). And the real beauty of this dinner is that you don't have to cook the root veg first. Instead, the sweet potato is grated in, so you almost forget it's there.

Enchilada Filling

Black beans are also known as 'black turtle beans'. In the UK they're still pretty hard to come by, and more than once I've asked in store if they sell them, with the same outcome. I trapse around the store being led by a clueless shop assistant to the same aisle which I've rummaged through for the last half an hour. I watch and wait with a polite "um, I've already, uh, looked here" while they squint at packets and ignore my protestations, determined to prove I didn't search hard enough. The shop assistant picks something out from the shelve and stands triumphantly. I breathe a deep inward sigh as she thrusts into my hands a pack of dried with beans with black dots. "But they say black-eyed beans". Yes, I see the similarities between the two names, but to state the bleedingly obvious, they're not black!

Enchilada Filling Because black beans in the UK are an elusive little product ('more reasons to shop at Morrisons'), or sold pre-cooked in expensive cartons, I would recommend taking a trip to your local international food shop, as you can buy most ingredients there, and at a fraction of the supermarket price. Otherwise, by all means substitute them with the frugal's favourite - red kidney beans. There's really not much difference in taste. In this recipe, I vary between buying dried black beans then cook them via a 'fast boil' method, or using a mixutre of cooked red and black beans.

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Enchiladas Assembly

Using frozen spinach, dried black beans and the cheapest cream cheese (you won't be able to tell the difference), this dish works out unbelievably cheap. As proof of this, I turned this into a pie using this recipe for homemade pastry and served it to 50 people at the local refugee forum, along with homemade coleslaw, spiced kurdish rice, dahl and a tomato and onion salad. All on a budget of £25!

Black Bean, Cream Cheese, Spinach and Sweet Potato Enchiladas

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Enchiladas

Serves 6-8 


8 large tortillas
2 tsp oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tbsp each of cumin, paprika and chilli powder (or to taste)
4 cups canned black beans, drained and rinsed (or 2 cups of dried black beans)
2 cups shredded sweet potatoes
2 cups frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed
250g cream cheese
1 cup cheddar cheese, grated
Fresh coriander, chopped (optional)
4 spring onions, chopped (optional)
Salt and pepper


225g Tomato passata
1/2 cup water
2 tbsp flour
1 tbsp chilli powder (or to taste)
1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 teaspoon each of cumin and garlic powder
1/4 tsp salt

If using black beans, see instructions below on how to pre-cook them.

1. Preheat oven to 190 degrees celcius. Saute onion and garlic in a large pan over medium heat. Cook until translucent, then add spices and cook another 2 minutes. Add sweet potatoes, drained spinach, cream cheese, black beans and cilantro and stir to combine. Season with a lot of black peper and some salt.

2. Enchilada sauce recipe: Heat all ingredients in a pan, sifting in the flour to avoid lumps, and bring to the boil. Cooking over medium heat for 5 to 10 minutes, until thickened slightly. Taste and season.

3. Fill tortillas with this mixture, wrap and place in a casserole dish. Pour tomato sauce over the enchiladas, then sprinkle with grated cheddar, spring onions and coriander. Bake for 20 minutes

Pressed for time? Skip the oven step, but cook the filling for a few minutes so the sweet potato softens a bit. Once assembled, place the dish under a hot grill until cheese is bubbly.

Cooking dried black beans: Put beans in a large pan and cover with 3 inches water. Bring this to a boil, then turn off the heat and leave them to soak for an hour, then drain this water, return beans to pan, cover with salted water and cook for around an hour (NB: timings vary; mine only took 40 minutes, while older beans will take up to two hours). To check if they're cooked, eat five beans from the pot, and if they're all tender you're ready to go.

I've shared the following recipe with:

Mexican recipe, mexican enchiladas, vegetarian enchiladas, sweet potato cream cheese enchiladas
Mexican recipe, mexican enchiladas, vegetarian enchiladas, sweet potato cream cheese enchiladas, black bean enchilada recipe, black bean, cream cheese, sweet porato and spinach enchiladas


  1. i can confirm this is a delicious dish

  2. I too can confirm that this is a delicious dish - better still, it was cheap, and yours truly paid for the ingredients!


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