South of the Border Baked Yams

About a week ago, I posted a a picture on Facebook of a recipe for toppings for a baked yam. The toppings included peanut butter, peanuts, bananas, raspberries and cinnamon - so more of a breakfast or dessert in some ways. My question was - would you eat this?

I tend, despite their natural sweetness, to take yams to the savory side. So I was curious what others thought. About 65% said yeah and about 35% said nay. There were very few undecideds like me.

One of the side benefits though, was that some of my friends shared their favorite ways to eat yams. There were a lot of options, but in the end a unique, south of the border version by Sandra Jazmin Higueras sparked my imagination. All she offered in terms of creating my own was a fab photo and these words, " easy to make too, just fried medley of beans with onions, spices & garlic then added ground beef & put it on the oven roasted yam, then added vegan cheese & tomatoes/onions/cucumber salsa (lime, cilantro & salt & pepper), then added shredded romaine lettuce. The salsa is the game changer; I love making salsas to put on everything."

Left - the photo that started the conversation
Right - Sandra's image of her fabulous invention. 
I had a package of home made cooked, seasoned black beans and hamburger mix in the freezer leftover from a burrito night and most of the other ingredients, so I decided to give it a try and make it my own. I split the yams, brushed them with oil and sprinkled with salt, pepper and garlic powder before baking. You could instead bake them whole, put a slice in the top once soft and push in the ends to open them - like what you see traditionally done with a baked potato. Splitting and laying them flat means they cook faster, and it gives more surface area to pile the toppings on.

It was a great fun meal to make (especially where I already had the beef /bean mixture pre-cooked) and oh so colorful. It was also so filling we didn't need anything with it. Thanks to Sandra for the inspiration.  I tried to measure some of the ingredients when I made this so that you would have a rough idea what I did, but don't be afraid to also make this your own. How you want to handle the meat, beans and spices is totally in your court. Make what you love.

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South of the Border Baked Yams

Ingredients - 

2                    Dark Orange yam split in half lengthwise (1 yam per person)
Oil, Salt, Pepper and garlic powder

For the meat/bean mixture (or use your own favourite recipe)
Note: This makes way more than what you need to top 2 yams, so freeze the extra for another meal.

1-1/2 lbs.        Lean or Extra Lean Ground Beef
1                     Can black beans (19 oz.) drained and rinsed
1/2 - 3/4 C      Salsa (this is a guess - I dump in the amount that looks right)
1/3 - 1/2 C      Water
1 T                  Chili Powder (more or less to taste.)
Salt and Pepper to taste

Salsa - 

1 C                  Diced fresh, ripe tomato
1 C                  Diced mini cucumbers with skin on to give more colour
1                     Bunch Green onions with some green tops, thinly sliced
1/4 C              Chopped Cilantro
Fresh squeezed lime juice to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
Optional - If you like a little heat add 1 minced jalapeno with seeds removed.

Toppings - 
Shredded cheese (or vegan cheese)
Salsa (see above)
Diced avocado
Shredded lettuce

Instructions -

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the split yam halves on a prepared baking sheet. Brush the cut surface with oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Bake until soft. The amount of time needed will depend on the size of the yams you are cooking, probably 40 to 60 minutes roughly.

Brown meat in large frying pan until all pink is gone and drain off all fat.  Add the meat back into the frying pan with salsa, beans, water and seasonings.  Stir well to mix.  Simmer gently uncovered until all extra moisture is gone. Be careful here as it starts to burn once the liquid evaporates.

While meat/bean mixture is simmering, prepare all ingredients for the salsa and place in a bowl. Top with lime, salt and pepper to taste and stir well to combine. Let sit at room temp for 30-60 min.

Place split baked yams on a plate, 1 yam (2 halves) per person. Top with a generous helping of your meat/bean mixture (I loaded it to make it a full meal deal), cheese, home made salsa, and avocado. I found that was enough topping, so scattered the shredded lettuce around the yams on the plate as a garnish to be eaten with it.

You could also offer bowls of sour cream, extra salsa and sliced black olives if you like to be added at the table.