Monday, January 21, 2013

Sweet Potatoes Stuffed with Tomato-Coconut Braised Collard Greens with Chickpeas

I gave up meat nearly ten years ago, telling myself I'd give it up for a few weeks but pretty sure I'd come back to it. I'd grown up enjoying medium-rare steaks, crispy bacon and hamburgers. I can't remember what the last bite of meat I had was, but I remember the day, months later, when I sat in the school cafeteria and realized I hadn't craved meat in months.

That's not to say that I never craved a piece of bacon. I certainly have. But overwhelmingly I haven't missed meat in my life.

I'm delighted, three weeks in, to be feeling that way about omitting dairy in my savory cooking. Maybe it's because it's still new and novel. I'm loving experimenting with new recipes and discovering the myriad of ways I can use coconut milk. Maybe it's because I'm still allowing myself some leeway and ordering food with dairy if the mood strikes when I'm out. Or maybe it's because I've felt healthier for the past three weeks than I have in a long time.

Regardless, I'm excited for this year's dairy-free cooking challenge. Particularly if it means discovering dishes like this one.

I roasted sweet potatoes until they were just tender inside. I stuffed them with a tasty mixture of onions, chickpeas and collard greens, braised with coconut milk and diced tomatoes until tender.

The filling came together easily while the sweet potatoes roasted. I stuffed the sweet potatoes generously with the collard green mixture, which meant I got a little bit of everything delicious in each bite.

I ate one immediately, and then I pre-stuffed the remaining sweet potatoes and packaged them away for lunches for the week. They reheat beautifully, and they've provided me with weekday lunches filled with color.

Sweet Potatoes Stuffed with Tomato-Coconut Braised Collard Greens with Chickpeas 
a recipe inspired by Good Life Eats and K's Veg Recipes

The recipe serves eight. I made these at the start of the week and packaged the stuffed sweet potatoes in individual servings in my fridge. The dish reheated beautifully for lunch each day.

8 sweet potatoes, scrubbed and poked with a fork
2 tablespoons coconut oil, separated into 1 tablespoon servings
1 medium onion, diced
1 1/2 cans chickpeas, drained
1 teaspoon McCormick Gourmet Collection Moroccan Seasoning (a blend of cinnamon, cumin, coriander, ginger, cardamom, pepper, paprika and turmeric) or 1/2 teaspoon cumin, 1/4 teaspoon coriander and a shake of pepper, cardamom and paprika
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 13.5 ounce can light coconut milk
1 bunch collard greens, de-stemmed, thinly sliced (about the size of your index finger) and well washed

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place scrubbed sweet potatoes in a baking pan and roast for at least 45 minutes, until a fork enters the sweet potato easily. Remove from the oven and set aside. The sweet potatoes may need more than an hour to roast, depending on their size.

Simultaneously: In a large saucepan over medium heat, heat 1 tablespoon coconut oil. Add 1 medium diced onion and saute, stirring regularly, for 8 to 10 minutes, until onions are soft. Add chickpeas and Moroccan seasoning blend and stir well. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes, until some chickpeas begin to brown slightly.

Remove the chickpea and onion mixture from the saute pan and transfer to a mixing bowl.

In the same saute pan, heat remaining tablespoon coconut oil. Add 1 bunch thinly sliced collard greens, and stir constantly for about two minutes. Add 1 can diced tomatoes and a bit of salt. Stir well. Add 1 can light coconut milk and continue stirring. Allow the mixture to heat up, about two minutes.

Add the chickpea and onion mixture back to the tomato/coconut mixture, and stir well. Bring to a simmer and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, until the collards are tender.

Cut open sweet potatoes and scoop a bit of the inner mixture out to make room for the chickpea/collard greens mixture. Fill the sweet potatoes with collards. Make sure the sweet potatoes are overflowing--you'll want a lot of the collard mixture. Serve warm!


  1. Wow these sound so incredibly flavorful! I've neglected sweet potatoes a bit, being so obsessed with squash lately but I think it's time I gave them the attention they deserve! great recipe. And good luck with the dairy-free challenge! That's awesome.

  2. I love the idea of making them all at once and heating one for lunch each day!

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