Black bean and yam stew with sofrito

December 10, 2010 at 10:51 am (AMA, Beans, B_minus (2.5 stars), Caribbean, Root vegetables, Starches, Winter recipes)

Derek liked the Jamaican bean dish from AMA so much I decided to try another bean recipe from the same cookbook.  This one looked somewhat similar to my black bean and sweet potato burritos, but much easier to put together.Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 small green bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and cut in 3/4-inch dice (about 2.5 cups)
  • 2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 2 cans (19 ounces each) black beans, rinsed and drained, or 4 cups cooked black beans
  • 2 cups chopped seeded tomatoes or 1 can (16 ounces) diced tomatoes, drained
  • 3 Tbs. chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 Tbs. red wine vinegar
  • 3/4 tsp. liquid hot pepper sauce
  • salt


  1. Make the sofrito.  Heat the oil in a 12-inch skillet or in a dutch oven.  Add the onion and green pepper and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until very soft, about 15 minutes.  Stir in the garlic and cook for 1 minute.   Move the sofrito to a large serving bowl.
  2. Cook the sweet potatoes in a 2-quart saucepan full of lightly salted water until just tender, 8 to 10 minutes.  Drain, reserving 1.5 cups of the cooking water.
  3. In the large skillet, toast the chili powder and cumin over medium heat, stiring almost constantly, until fragrant and one shade darker, about 3 minutes.  Add the beans, tomatoes, and reserved yam cooking water.  Bring to a boil, breaking up the tomatoes into smaller chunks with the side of a spoon.  Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer, uncovered, until the mixture is somewhat reduced and thickened, about 10 minutes.  Stir in the cooked sweet potatoes and the sofrito.  (The stew can be made a day ahead and refrigerated.  Reheat before proceeding.)
  4. Stir in the cilantro, vinegar, and hot pepper sauce, and season with salt to taste.  Transfer to serving dish if desired.

Serves 4.

Per serving:  About 372 calories, 5g fat, 70g carbs, 16g fiber, 15g protein.

My notes:

The dish was more complicated to put together than I thought.  It used a surprising number of pots and dishes.  I cooked my own beans (pot 1).  The skillet (pot 2).  The pot for cooking the sweet potatoes (pot 3).  The serving dish (dish 4).  The colander to drain the sweet potatoes (dish 5).  You could try to save on dishes by using the pot lid to strain the sweet potatoes, and moving the sofrito to the same pot as the sweet potatoes. I was worried that the heat from the onions would overcook the sweet potatoes, however.

One pound of sweet potatoes is really not very much.  This dish has much more black beans than sweet potatoes.

I used canned tomatoes (not fresh ones).  But I don’t really understand why the canned tomatoes are drained.  The next step is to thicken the mixture, so why not use the juice from the can of tomatoes?

Derek really enjoyed this dish.  He thought it was very flavorful.  It definitely had flavor, and tasted fine, but I still wasn’t that impressed.  I didn’t care for the combination of the very sweet tomato sauce and the sweet potatoes.  And the sweet potato flavor didn’t come through all that well.  I had cooked up a bit of extra sweet potatoes and they were really tasty when snacked on plain.  But when combined in this dish I couldn’t really taste them.  If I make this again I’ll try to cook the sweet potatoes in a way that their flavor comes through more, and I’ll change the sweet tomato sauce into more of a spicy chili sauce.

We ate the dish with some diced avocado, which added a little more fat, but didn’t really compliment the flavors all that well.

Rating: B

Derek: B (I was surprised by his rating–given all this compliments–but he wouldn’t budge.)

1 Comment

  1. Julie said,

    Can’t wait to make and try this!!!!

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