Tuesday, February 22, 2011

I yam what I yam

I have been enlightened!  Yams are not sweet potatoes.  Sweet potatoes are not yams.  All my life I've been walking around using the terms interchangeably, but they are actually different vegetables!  What I did know is that I didn't like sweet potatoes.  My mom loves them and every Thanksgiving she asks me if I like sweet potatoes.  What?  Ick!  No!  So because of my strong dislike for potatoes that are sweet, I've never even considered preparing them and really didn't even notice their "humble" existence in the produce section.  

I recently came across a cookbook by Susan O'Brien called The Gluten-Free Vegan.  I have been eating less meat, but assumed that being GF and vegan (can't have dairy and  really shouldn't be eating eggs anyway) would make the simple task of eating even more difficult so I was thrilled to find this gem of culinary creations.  There are a ton of great recipes!   This is where the yams come in.  I threw caution to the wind and decided to give yams a try (although they are apparently not even closely related, yams and sweet potatoes both have a sweet flavor).   I headed to my local Fry's for *gasp* sweet potatoes or yams or whatever and was thoroughly confused.  Yams.  Sweet potatoes.  Next to each other?  I thought they were the same thing?  So I bought whatever they had labeled as yams and a few other things I didn't have on hand and got to work.  If you don't rush right out and buy yams right now, you'll be sorry!  This dish is GREAT!  Here it is:

J&J's Favorite Yam and Black Bean Burritos

2 large yams (I bought 2, but only ended up using 1.)
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
2 tbsp. seeded and chopped red bell pepper
1 small jalapeno, diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped (I'm allergic, didn't use it.)
1 cup diced tomato
1 cup tomato salsa
1 tsp. chile powder
1 tsp. ground cumin (mmmmm...cumin.)
1 15 oz. can of black beans, drained and rinsed (I used dry beans that I soaked and cooked myself.  Sooooo much better!  You can make a huge batch and freeze them for later!)
2/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro (eh, didn't make the cut.)
2 tbsp. lime juice
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4-1/2 tsp. black pepper
8 rice or hemp tortillas (hahahahahahaha!  We all know that rice tortillas are a joke!  I used corn.)

There are two ways you can prepare the yams for this recipe: prick the yams all over with  a fork, bake in the oven at 400 degrees until soft, but not mushy (this is what I did); or prick them with a fork and microwave until soft, 5 to 6 minutes on high.

While the yams bake ( I waited until they were done, it took at least an hour in the oven), heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and saute the onion in the olive oil until soft, 3 to 4 minutes.  Add the red bell pepper and jalapeno and continue sauteing for another 3 to 4 minutes, or until the pepper becomes soft.  Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.  Peel the yams, cut into cubes, and add to the vegetable mixture.  Add the tomatoes, salsa, spices, black beans, cilantro and lime juice.  Heat through.  Season to taste with any additional salt or black pepper.  Heat your choice of tortillas and dig in! (I also added avocado on top!)

These mini burritos/tacos have such an interesting spicy/sweet flavor!  So yummy!  I have more respect for yams now, but sweet potatoes can still suck it!  Enjoy!


  1. This sounds awesome and I am always getting yams in my co-op basket. What brand of corn tortillas do you use or do you somehow prepare them to keep from falling apart? Mine always crack unless I fry them a little bit.

  2. I use whatever's on sale...nothing special. I just warm em up in the toaster oven a bit and if you fill em when they are still warm and the filling is warm, they seem to do ok. Not perfect, but a tasty receptacle. You can fry them too, but I am usually too lazy at that point :)

  3. Hey, now that you like yams, you can try my sweet potato cakes which I always make using yams because I also didn't know the difference.

  4. Haha! I do like yams now! I bought another one today!