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THE FRONT BURNER

FLS reporter Katie Thisdell serves up news on local food finds, tales from home cooks and inspiration to help you have fun in your own kitchen.

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Halloween-themed food without the sugar rush

Black bean and sweet potato saute

If you thought candy corn was the only way to put Halloween-colored food on the table, think again. I made this dish the other day while trying to use up odd ingredients in the pantry.

Sweet potatoes are in season locally right now, and they are full of beta-carotene, Vitamin C, potassium and other nutrients. I got the idea to shred and saute them while reading Charlottesville blogger Kath Younger, of Kath Eats Real Food.

Mixed with black beans, garlic and spices in the saute pan, they make a tasty dish that would probably be great on its own. I chose to heap it onto flour tortillas and make quesadillas, and the soft texture of the potatoes allowed me to get away with a lot less cheese than I usually use. If you added an egg and maybe a little bit of cheese, you could turn the mixture into fritters by forming cakes and frying them in a little bit of oil. It would also be good baked into enchiladas or lasagna.

I loved that this dish came out black and orange. It could be the basis of a healthy pre-trick-or-treating dinner that would provide a nice base of nutrition before the candy rush.

Here are the basics of what I did. These quesadillas were a satisfying weekend lunch.  I hope you’ll find inspiration to reinvent this dish in your own kitchen.

Black bean and sweet potato quesadillas

Ingredients –

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 can black beans, rinsed and drained

1 medium sweet potato, washed, peeled and shredded

1 tablespoon cumin

1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes

1 tablespoon chili powder

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

four pinches salt (or to taste)

1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

4 flour tortillas

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat a medium saute pan over medium-high heat. Grease a cookie sheet and set aside.

Add oil and garlic to pan. As soon as garlic begins to sizzle, add beans.

As beans heat up, stir and mash them up a bit. Then add shredded sweet potatoes and spices. Stir mixture as it cooks, continuing to mash some of the beans. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes, until potatoes and beans are soft and completely warmed through.

Divide mixture among four tortillas, spooning it over half the tortilla, adding feta to each of the four tortillas, then folding them over. Place filled tortillas on cookie sheet. Sprinkle tops with olive oil.

Bake for 10 minutes, or until feta is warm and tortillas have crisped a bit. Serve with salsa and sour cream. Serves 4 for lunch.

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