Chipotle Quinoa Sweet Potato Tacos with Roasted Cranberry Salsa

This dinner idea combines some of my all-time favorite ingredients into one fabulous dish. Quinoa, sweet potatoes, and black beans come together with a few spices, some tomatoes, and spicy chipotles. It's a super healthy dish, just look at those ingredients! All this piled onto a warm corn tortilla and topped with a tart and sweet cranberry salsa and a creamy avocado makes a fantastic meat-free dinner option that I don't know who could dislike. 

This is a great option to make ahead and eat throughout the week for a quick dinner or lunch. It's the type of meal that only gets better with time (to a point of course!). You could also throw the taco filling on top of some brown rice or hearty greens, or throw it in a pita or flour tortilla for a different take on dinner if you don't like eating the exact same thing night after night. 

There are a few different steps in this recipe, and while none of them are at all difficult, they do take just a little bit of prep-work. Cooking the quinoa, prepping the sweet potato, cooking the black beans and making the salsa can all be done ahead though which would streamline the process later on. Also, go ahead an grab a can of black beans if you don't have the time or the inclination to cook up some dried beans.

Whatever you do, don't skip the salsa! It is the perfect tart complement to the spicy tacos, something different than the traditional tomato salsa. Take a few extra minutes and whip it together. The original recipe for the salsa called for pomegranate arils to be thrown in after the cranberries are done roasting. While I am sure this is delicious, and would have liked to try it, pomegranate season must be over. There was not one to be seen at the grocery store when I was shopping. All I could find was a tiny little jar of arils for something like $5 which just isn't worth it my book! So if you can find them for a reasonable price I'd say go for it, but even without the salsa is still perfectly delicious. 

 
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Chipotle Quinoa Sweet Potato Tacos
Adapted from Half Baked Harvest
Ingredients

  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 a small onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 large sweet potato, chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 1/2 - 2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 1 can diced fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 2 canned chipotle chilies, minced
  • 1 tablespoon adobo sauce (from the chipotle can)
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1  - 1 1/2 cups cooked black beans
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1 small bunch cilantro, chopped
  • Corn tortillas, warmed
  • Diced avocado, for topping
  • Shredded sharp cheddar cheese, for topping

Directions
Heat the olive oil over a large skillet set over medium heat. Add the onions and a pinch of salt and let the onions cook for 5-10 minutes, until beginning to soften. Add the sweet potatoes and toss to coat. Add a little water to the skillet and let cook until the sweet potatoes are fork tender, but not mushy, stirring once or twice, about 15 minutes, adding more water if needed.

Once the sweet potatoes are fork tender, add the garlic and saute 30 seconds. Add the spices and let cook until fragrant, making sure they don't burn. Stir everything together well and then increase the heat to medium-high (adding more oil if needed) and add the quinoa. Let the quinoa cook and get crispy for about 5 minutes, trying not to stir too much.

Next, add 3/4 cup water, tomatoes, the chili powder, chipotle chilies, adobo sauce, smoked paprika, cumin, brown sugar and cayenne, stir to thoroughly combine and bring the mixture to a boil. Cook for 5-10 minutes or until the water has evaporated and the chili is at your desired consistency. If it starts to get too dry you can add more water.

Remove from the heat and stir in the black beans, 1/4 cup chopped cilantro and the lime juice. Taste and season with salt and pepper if desired. Serve with tortillas, avocado, cheddar cheese and roasted cranberry salsa (recipe follows).

Roasted Cranberry Salsa
Adapted from Half Baked Harvest
Ingredients

  • 12 ounces fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 canned chipotle chili, chopped
  • 1 lime, zested + juiced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced 
  • 1 jalapeño, chopped, seeds removed if desired for less spicy salsa
  • Pomegranate arils (optional)
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Directions
Preheat oven to 450 degrees and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place the cranberries, brown sugar, chipotle chili, lime zest and juice, garlic, jalapeño and a pinch of salt and pepper in a large bowl. Use your hands or a large spoon to toss everything together until evenly mixed. Transfer to baking sheet. Place in the oven and roast until the cranberries burst and release their juices, 15-20 minutes. Remove from the oven and and let cool. Add in the pomegranate arils if using and taste and season with more salt and pepper if desired. Set aside and keep at room temperature. Can be made in advance, store in the refrigerator until needed. 

Warm Brown Rice, Sweet Potato and Roasted Cabbage Salad with Tahini Yogurt Dressing

This is one of those meals that I wasn't really planning on being anything extra special or turning out as well as it did. That is one of the things I love so much about cooking, coming up with new combinations that surprise me with how good they are. Taking a couple of ingredients that I have never really put together and creating a whole new dish out of them that just works, at least for me anyways!

The other night I just happened to have a few leftovers and random ingredients hanging out in my fridge and thought I better use them up or freeze them before they went bad. I had a general idea about what I was going to do with them, but it sort of evolved as I went along and turned into this wonderfully warm and filling salad, perfect on a rainy and chilly spring night. Sweet and creamy baked sweet potato combined with chewy brown rice, and roasted cabbage, topped with pecans for nuttiness and some dried cranberries for sweetness. A quick dressing of tahini and yogurt finishes the whole thing off and brings it all together. 

I decided to use zaatar for flavoring this salad. I've really been liking zaatar recently. If you don't know what zaatar is, it is a really nice mixture of dried herbs (dried thyme mostly I think), sesame seeds and sumac that is used in the Middle East. If you haven't tried it before I highly recommend it. But this is not a recipe that is set in stone so if you don't have any zaatar go ahead and use something else, you're favorite herbs or spices, whatever you have on hand. I also thought this would be good with a Mexican twist, using chili powder and cumin and throwing in some fresh cilantro, yum! Switching out different dried fruits and different nuts would also be be fun to play with. Cooking is just a great way to let your imagination go wild, so go ahead and have some fun!

Warm Brown Rice, Sweet Potato and Roasted Cabbage Salad with Tahini Yogurt Dressing

Ingredients 

  • 1 medium sweet potato
  • 1/4 head cabbage, sliced thin
  • 1/2 medium onion, sliced thin
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup brown rice (or 1-1 1/2 cups cooked brown rice)
  • 2 tablespoons Zaatar spice mix
  • Cayenne pepper, to taste
  • Plain yogurt
  • Tahini

Directions

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Place sweet potato on a baking sheet and baked until tender, 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes, depending on the size of the sweet potato. Set aside until cool enough to handle. 

Thinly slice the cabbage. toss with a little olive oil and some salt. Place on a baking sheet and broil until starting to wilt and char, stirring occasionally to evenly cook. This can take anywhere from 10-30 minutes depending on how charred you like your cabbage, and how hot your oven gets. 

While cooking the potato and cabbage, sauté sliced onions in a pan over medium to low heat until very soft and tender. When onions are caramelized to your liking, add the garlic and cook until fragrant. 

Cook the brown rice according to package instructions. Or even better, if you have some leftover rice use that in instead. Add the cabbage and brown rice to the onions and garlic mixture. 

Cut the cooled sweet potato into bite sized chunks. Add to the sauté pan along with the zaatar and cayenne. Give the whole thing a nice stir, adding some water to the pan if needed. Drizzle tahini over the whole mixture to taste and add a couple spoonfuls of yogurt. Stir again to combine well. Taste and season with salt if needed. 

Spoon salad into bowls and top with pecans and dried cranberries. 

Roasted Sweet Potato and Chickpea Spinach Salad

The farmers markets are finally open here in Michigan, and I'm loving it! I'm making it a weekly tradition to head into Grand Rapids every Saturday morning and stock up on a basket-full of fresh veggies and, hopefully soon, fruit. The past couple of weeks what I've been most excited about has been the fresh greens, romaine, spinach, watercress, green leaf and Bibb lettuce, it has been so wonderful! My Saturday afternoon lunches have been filled with salads in the last couple of weeks because of this. Usually I just chop up a few vegetables, maybe boil and egg or pull some ham out of the fridge, but sometimes I feel a little more adventurous. I made this salad on one of my more adventurous days. It takes a few extra minutes but it's totally worth it. The combination is wonderful (even when you are sadly, out of goat cheese!).

I love the combination of the lightly spiced sweet potato mixed with the creamy and hearty chickpeas. The roasted onions add additional sweetness which I always love. A couple of handfuls of spinach and you have a meal. Like I said, I was out of goat cheese, but I know it would have been an amazing addition to this already delicious salad, elevating it to new heights! But either way, this is a great spring salad when you are looking for something to really sink your teeth into. 

Roasted Sweet Potato and Chickpea Spinach Salad

Adapted From 

Naturally Ella

Ingredients

  • 1 medium sweet potato
  • ½ medium onion
  • 2 tablespoons garam masala
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Juice from ½ lemon
  • ¼ cup minced parsley
  • 4 ounces goat cheese
  • 1 cup chickpeas 
  • 3-4 handfuls spinach

Instructions

Preheat oven to 375˚. Cut sweet potatoes into ¼” cubes and dice onion into large chunks. In a roasting dish, combine sweet potatoes, onions, about 1 tablespoons of the olive oil, and garam masala.  Toss together until well coated. Roast until sweet potatoes are tender, 20-30 minutes.

Once sweet potatoes are done, place in a large bowl. Add spinach, goat cheese, chickpeas, and minced parsley.

Squeeze lemon juice and drizzle remaining olive oil on top. Toss together until well blended. Taste and add more lemon juice/olive oil if needed.