Sweet Potatoes Topped with Black Bean Chili

Preparation info

  • Makes


    • Difficulty


Appears in

Lighter, Quicker, Better: Cooking for the Way We Eat Today

Lighter, Quicker, Better

By Richard Sax and Marie Simmons

Published 2000

  • About

Chili makes a good topping for vitamin-rich sweet potatoes. The black beans look great on the bright orange sweet potatoes, and the taste is right. The trick of using chipotle chilies to add flavor to a meatless chili was devised by cookbook author Deborah Madison when she was the chef at Greens, the vegetarian restaurant run by the San Francisco Zen Center. It has since been widely copied.


  • 4 large sweet potatoes, scrubbed (about pounds)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • cups chopped onion
  • 1 cup diced (¼ inch) green pepper
  • 1 cup diced (¼ inch) carrot
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 can (14½ ounces) Italian-style plum tomatoes, with juice, pressed through a sieve or food mill
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 can (19 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained, or 2 cups cooked dried black beans
  • ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
  • Salt
  • 1 cup diced yellow squash
  • 1 cup diced zucchini
  • teaspoons chopped chipotle chilies, or 1 tablespoon minced seeded jalapeño, or to taste
  • 4 lime wedges
  • nonfat yogurt, for serving
  • Coarsely chopped cilantro, for serving


    1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
    2. Pierce the potatoes with the tines of a fork and bake them until tender, about 1 hour.
    3. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, green pepper, and carrot and cook, stirring, until the vegetables are golden, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes longer. Stir in the chili powder and cumin until blended. Add the tomatoes, water, black beans, and oregano and heat to a simmer. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, over low heat for 20 minutes. Season with salt to taste.
    4. Just before serving, add the yellow squash, zucchini, and chipotle. Cover and simmer until the vegetables are crisp-tender, about 5 minutes.
    5. To serve, split the sweet potatoes and mash their pulp slightly. Spoon the chili into the center. Add a squeeze of lime juice. Top with yogurt and a sprinkling of chopped cilantro.