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Best Vegetarian Chili: Sweet Potato and Black Bean

Rebecca is a retired special education teacher. She earned a master's degree at Armstrong Atlantic State University in Savannah, GA.

Serve sweet potato and black bean chili with tortilla chips.

Serve sweet potato and black bean chili with tortilla chips.

Perfect Autumn Comfort Food

Sweet potato and black bean chili, or black bean and sweet potato chili? Po-tay-ta, po-tah-ta . . . either way, it's delicious!

This favorite autumn dish is a heavenly combination of two superfoods. Herbs, spices, and healthy ingredients like diced tomatoes, red bell pepper, shallots, cilantro, thyme, and cumin give this vegetarian chili a robust flavor.

The result is a fall comfort food perfect for a "chilly" day. And if you like the smoky hot flavor of chipotle pepper, a dash of it goes well in this dish.

Southern and Latino Flavors Combined

A staple in traditional Southern cooking, the sweet potato is used in everything from breads and desserts to sides and main dishes. The sweet flavor allows you to use less sugar and is complemented by honey and spices like ginger and cinnamon.

Black beans, or frijoles negros, are a traditional staple food in Latin countries such as Costa Rica, Mexico, and Belize. Often slow-cooked with spices, black beans are used in soups, spicy chilis, nachos, tacos, and more.

Southern and Latino flavors come together in this sweet potato and black bean chili. Spices and herbs such as cumin, garlic, thyme, and cilantro, often used to flavor black beans and other traditional Latin dishes, impart a savory flavor to sweet potatoes that's unique and delicious.

Two Superfoods in One Great Chili

Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are so nutritious they're known as a superfood. And baked sweet potatoes are a healthier option than white ones for those with diabetes or other health issues. They're less starchy and don't cause spikes in blood sugar.

Read More From Delishably

The orange sweet potato is the one we're most familiar with, but other varieties exist, all of them loaded with vitamins and healthy antioxidants. The purple sweet potato gets its color from the pigment anthocyanin, a flavonoid also found in wine and chocolate and known to be a free radical scavenger.

When shopping for sweet potatoes, look for small to medium-sized ones rather than large ones. Smaller sweet potatoes are less starchy. Be sure not to confuse sweet potatoes with yams. Yams are starchier and related to daylilies. Sweet potatoes are more related to morning glories. The two aren't interchangeable in recipes.

Black Beans

Did you know that black beans are actually blue? They are such a deep blue they appear to be black. The color is due to the pigment anthocyanin, the same flavonoid found in the purple sweet potato.

Because black beans are legumes, they're a good source of protein and fiber. They're also a source of quercetin and saponins, flavonoids that help protect the heart.

Purple sweet potatoes

Purple sweet potatoes

Ingredients

  • 2 cups sweet potato, peeled and diced
  • 1 cup white onion, chopped
  • 1 large red bell peper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1/2 teaspoon chipotle pepper (optional)
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

Instructions

  1. Heat the olive oil in a medium-sized pot over medium heat.
  2. Add the chopped sweet potato, onion, garlic, and shallots. Cook until tender (5-8 minutes).
  3. Add chopped bell pepper, canned diced tomatoes, and rinsed black beans. Simmer until the pepper is tender (3-5 minutes).
  4. Stir and add vegetable stock, spices, and lime juice.
  5. Cover and cook over medium-low heat until the vegetable stock is absorbed (10-12 minutes).
  6. Add the chopped cilantro and cook for 5 more minutes.

Photo Guide

Peel and dice the sweet potatoes, white onion, shallots, and garlic.

Peel and dice the sweet potatoes, white onion, shallots, and garlic.

Add drained black beans, diced tomatoes, and diced red bell pepper.

Add drained black beans, diced tomatoes, and diced red bell pepper.

Add snipped cilantro during the last five minutes of cookng.

Add snipped cilantro during the last five minutes of cookng.

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