Vegan Moroccan Chili Stuffed Sweet Potatoes with Avocado Cream
It’s Winter in Virginia. I walk through the old warehouse district — now an art park. Cement and asphalt. Stone and brass statues. A lot full of cars. The landscaping along the sidewalks is all browns, blacks and slate greys (plus a smattering of violently purple ornamental cabbages). The hilly permaculture garden is leafless, fragile and dry. I see, though, that four trees are blooming. Those trees with quilted coats of hard black fungus clinging to the bark. The ones I thought were dead — or not far from death. Pink blossoms litter the ground. There’s a sweet perfume in the air. I watch the petals shudder in the cool breeze. The flowers yawn out. I walk under one of the trees on the far edge of the parking lot. Looking up, I see blue sky between the branches like a painted backdrop. I hear humming. It’s soft at first. Then louder, the sound vibrating against my eardrum as if coming from inside of my own head. A symphony of honey bees. Desperate or ebullient?
They sink into every flower. Collecting tiny sips of nectar. Pawing at silky stamens. Nestling tongues in crevices. Pockets of yellow pollen cling to their legs. I reach up to grasp an arching branch, beginning to snap it off. I watch a bee sink into one of the buds. I pause, my hand still on the branch. I watch as she settles, wades in the blossom, lopes to the next branch. Snap, twist, crack. The wood beneath the bark is green and wet. One more branch, snaptwistcrack. I hold them together in my hand, watch as two petals fall away from one of the flowers, revealing a spray of sticky white stamen like a tousle of blonde hair. I duck out from under the tree, looking back. This craggy living thing shoots upwards in slow motion: mottled black crowned in pure, powdery pink. I can’t help but feel both joy and sadness. Bright petals like presents, a salve for the eye. Though Winter warms and freezes erratically. And hibernating things awaken too early.
Vegan Moroccan Chili Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
One day I’m potting plants outside in just a thin t-shirt. The next day on a walk through town I’m layered in sweaters and socks, hat pulled down over my ears. I’m craving warm winter foods to ground me. But smoothies are not completely out of the question. More than anything I just want food that’s filling, delicious and energizing. I don’t really care so much — especially post workout — if it’s raw or cooked. Just give me the food. All of the food.
This recipe for moroccan chili stuffed sweet potatoes with avocado cream is hearty, filling and delicious. I LOVE this spice mix! Ras el Hanout is a North African spice blend that is a lot like garam masala in Indian cuisine. It’s usually composed of all of the “top shelf” spices at the market blended together. Ras el Hanout’s components vary pretty widely, but it’s usually composed of cumin, coriander, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, cloves, chili peppers, black pepper, cardamom, and sometimes paprika, fenugreek and turmeric. It’s also been known to include regionally specific African spices like orris root, rosebud or aniseed, etc. Basically it’s everything enlivening and wonderful mashed together. I like that. For my version I’ve subbed out clove for chili powder, as this is chili after all, y’all. And I keep it simple with easily available spices — you can find all of the spices in this mix on the grocery shelf whole or pre-ground. It gives an otherwise very simple kale, carrot and kidney bean chili complexity and depth.
The avocado cream is savory and balanced, a really great complement to the chili stuffed sweet potatoes. I was eating it by the spoonful as I styled this shoot! If you choose to make your chili super spicy it’ll cool ya right down. And it packs a protein punch.
I’m not a genius at making meals ahead. But I made a bunch of these chili stuffed sweet potatoes and saved them to eat over the following two days for lunch. I’m pretty pathetic about lunch as I’m usually in the midst of recipe testing or writing during lunch time. And I just don’t want to put any thought into it. So having these protein/nutrition bombs ready to go was a real life saver!
If you make this recipe leave me a comment, dudes! I LOVE to hear your thoughts and feedback. It’s my favorite. xo
- Sweet Potatoes + Ras el Hanout*
- 4 medium-large sweet potatoes
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/2 sweet white onion, roughly chopped (about 1 cup)
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin coconut oil
- 3 teaspoons Ras el Hanout Spice Blend
- 4-5 large lacinato kale leaves
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 red bell pepper, seeds and stem removed and chopped roughly
- 1 cup thinly sliced carrots (about 2 medium large carrots)
- 2 cups low-sugar tomato sauce
- 3/4 cups water
- pinch cayenne, plus more to taste
- 2 cups cooked kidney beans (drained and rinsed if from a can)
- 1/2 teaspoon Celtic sea salt
- avocado cream
- 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped roughly
- Avocado Cream
- 1 whole avocado
- 1/4 sunflowers seeds
- 1/4 cup hemp hearts (or sub with more sunflower seeds)
- 1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/3 cup sweet white onion chopped roughly
- 1 garlic clove, smashed
- scant 3/4 teaspoon Celtic sea salt
- 1/2 cup water
- Preheat the oven to 400F. Prick the sweet potatoes all over with a sharp knife or fork. Arrange the sweet potatoes on a baking sheet with the pricked side facing up. Bake for 35-45 minutes, until completely tender all the way through. Remove from the oven and let cool before slicing open.
- Whisk all of the Ras el Hanout spices together: cumin, ginger, black pepper, cinnamon, coriander, allspice and chili powder. Set aside.
- While the sweet potatoes are baking, place a soup pot over medium high heat. Add the onion and coconut oil and sautee for 5-8 minutes or until the onion is just beginning to become translucent, stirring occasionally. While the onion is cooking, separate the kale stems from the leaves. Chop the kale leaves roughly and set aside. Chop the stems roughly into 1/4 inch pieces and add the stems to the sautéing onion along with the minced garlic and 3 teaspoons Ras el Hanout spice mix. Cook the onion with the kale stems and garlic for about 2 minutes. Then add the reserved kale leaves, red pepper, carrots, tomato sauce, water, cayenne and kidney beans. Cook, covered, for 15-20 minutes or until the carrots are tender. Once cooked, cut off the heat and stir in the sea salt. Let cool 5-10 minutes, uncovered, before serving.
- For the Avocado Cream:
- While the chili is cooking, combine the avocado cream ingredients in the bowl of a high powered blender: avocado, sunflower seeds, hemp heart, extra virgin olive oil, sweet white onion, garlic clove, sea salt and water. Blend until creamy.
- Slice the sweet potatoes open and spoon chili into them. Top with loads of avocado cream and cilantro. Serve hot.