A perk of living in New York City is all of the celebrity sightings that you happen upon during your everyday routine. My husband and I used to keep a list of everyone we ran into in the street, in stores, at work, in church… you name it! After a few years, the conversation turned into, “who haven’t we seen?” I remember the first movie/television set I saw in the city. I had been working in NYC for only a couple weeks, and saw a film crew set up on my way to work. I thought to myself, “How can I go to work now? I need to stay and watch the production all day!” I made it to work, and the awe that I had from my first film set encounter quickly turned into, “Get out of way, I have to get to work!!” (For the record, Law & Order loved to film on the streets I used to walk from our apartment to work.)
Back in February of 2004, my husband and I had spent a typical Saturday afternoon in Central Park, and then wandered over to the then-newly constructed Time Warner Center for a smoothy from Jamba Juice. We stopped in Williams-Sonoma to see what was new, and we happened upon a celebrity chef encounter! Sara Moulton was signing copies of her latest book. I immediately used my cell phone to call my mom to see if she wanted a copy. And even though she already had one, I received the go-ahead to purchase another copy and get it autographed for her. Sara Moulton was so friendly, and my husband and I engaged in conversation with her about restaurants in a college town that we had all previously lived in.
This recipe is one of my favorite Sara Moulton recipes, and one that we even discussed with her. It is an excellent entrée if you are looking to please both vegetarians and meat-eaters. Based on my experience, it freezes pretty well too, if you want to make a lot and save some for future lunches or dinners. The black bean spread is so excellent on it’s own, I have made it to put in quesadillas. You could use that part of the recipe for any other dish that needs black bean spread. The cumin and the chili powder work wonderfully with the black beans! Garnish these with your favorite fixings! (I regularly use cheese, salsa, sour cream, and cilantro.)
Sweet Potato and Black Bean Burritos
(From Sara Moulton Cooks at Home, slightly modified)
2 sweet potatoes, about 10 oz. each
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon chili powder
1 (15 oz.) can black beans, rinsed and drained
½ cup vegetable stock
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
Ten 6-inch flour tortillas (wheat tortillas will work, too)
2-3 green onions, white part only, thinly sliced
I cup Monterrey Jack cheese, shredded
Optional: Shredded romaine, sour cream, salsa, pickled Jalapenos, grated Cheddar cheese, chopped cilantro, etc.
Preheat oven to 400°F. Prick potatoes with a knife in several places and bake in a small baking pan until very tender, about 1 to 1 ½ hours.
Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute longer. Stir in the cumin and chili powder and cook for 1 minute. Add the beans and vegetable stock, cover, and cook until the beans are very soft and the flavors have blended, about 5 minutes. Use a fork or potato masher to coarsely mash the beans. Season with salt and pepper. You should have about 1 ½ cups.
Remove the potatoes from the oven and cool. (Keep the oven at the same temperature.) When the potatoes are cool enough handle, halve and scoop out the flesh. Place the flesh in a small bowl and use a fork to mash coarse. Discard the skins. Add the nutmeg and season with salt and pepper. You should have 1 ½ to 2 cups.
Spread the tortillas with roughly equal amounts of the bean mixture. Tops with equal amounts of the potato puree. Sprinkle on equal amounts of cheese and green onions. Roll the tortillas into cylinders and arrange, seam side down, on a baking sheet (large enough to hold the burritos in one flat layer). Spray the tops with cooking spray.
For a soft burrito, cover with foil and bake until warmed through, about 20 minutes. Bake uncovered for a crisper burrito. Arrange the garnishes attractively in bowls and let diners garnish their own burritos.
Note: I bake my burritos covered with foil for 15 minutes. I then remove the foil and bake them for another 5 minutes. I then top the burritos with cheddar cheese (or other Mexican or Taco cheese blend), and bake for 1 minute, until cheese melts.