This recipe is one of those “oops” moments that turns into something serendipitous. I had a package of grass-fed beef I was planning to make into meatballs, but I forgot to buy most of the other ingredients at the store. (Parmesan-less meatballs? How could I?) I did have some canned tomatoes and Italian spices, so I changed my plans and made a gloopy, flavorful mixture. But what to put it on? We’re not big bread-eaters, but we do keep plenty of sweet potatoes around. And after a successful experiment putting bbq chicken on baked sweet potatoes, I thought making a sloppy sweet potato would be just the thing. I was right! It’s a somewhat unusual but delicious combination, complete with a lean protein and plenty of carotenoids from the lycopene in the tomatoes and beta-carotene from the sweet potatoes.
Be careful what brand of canned tomatoes you use, because many canned goods contain BPA, which could increase the risk of breast cancer and other diseases. If you can your own (or have a friend who does), perfect! Otherwise, Eden Organic is a brand that’s known to use BPA-free cans, as well as the delicious San Marzano brand.
Sloppy sweet potatoes
1/2 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 lb lean ground beef
28-ounce can whole tomatoes
1/2 cup plain yogurt or skim milk (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
4 medium sweet potatoes
In a large skillet, heat a little olive oil. Add the onion and saute about 5 minutes, until translucent and softened. Add garlic, stir about 30 seconds until fragrant. Add herbs, stir another minute, then add beef. Cook until browned. Dump in the tomatoes, juice and all, and use a potato masher to crush them and break them up. You also use crushed tomatoes, but I like squishing the tomatoes myself. Bring to a low boil, then simmer about 20 minutes, until mixture thickens. Add a little dairy if you like – plain yogurt or skim milk will do. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Make mixture a day ahead, if you like.
When it’s dinner time, preheat your oven to 400F. Wash and dry sweet potatoes, then prick them all over. Place on a baking sheet and roast for 45 minutes to an hour, depending on size of potatoes. If they’re fork-tender, they’re ready. Remove from oven, split down the middle, and top with hot sloppy mix.