Sweet potatoes are one my favorite foods. Besides being an excellent source of Vitamin A and many other nutrients, I love the sweetness they lend to so many dishes. I learned, while researching for our move to Okinawa, that sweet potatoes are a large part of the Okinawan diet. If this wasn’t exciting enough, I realized that Okinawa doesn’t have the orange variety we are used to in the U.S., but the purple variety, called beni-imo.
For those of you who don’t know me, I should explain. Purple is my favorite color. By favorite color, I mean, my life is purple. My phone, laptop, suitcase, even baking supplies in my kitchen–it’s all purple. So the fact that Okinawa has purple sweet potatoes, well, I knew my life was never going to be the same. Okinawans love, and have created, beni-imo everything. Ice cream, Kit-Kats, pastries–if something can be flavored, it will be beni-imo and it will be purple. It’s delicious and amazing and makes me love Okinawa that much more.
There are a few different varieties of sweet potatoes that we can buy here in Okinawa. The beni-imo, most commonly used and modeled after for desserts, has purple skin and a deep purple flesh. Our favorite though, has purple skin with white flesh. I use this variety most commonly for cooking, since it seems to have the right balance of sweetness and starchiness, and are the sweet potatoes you see pictured here. I can occasionally find the orange flesh sweet potatoes too.
Now that you’ve read enough about my obsession with the color purple and sweet potatoes, let’s talk about this recipe. These chipotle chicken filled sweet potatoes are the perfect combination of sweet and smoky. The chipotle seasoning gets brushed on the sweet potato skins, giving them a crispy exterior. It’s also mixed with the chicken, which can make the dish spicy (so be cautious with how much chipotle you use) but adds a lot of flavor. I love that the filling also includes spinach, so I usually do not make side dishes to go along with it. I just serve it with lots of guacamole, because any excuse to eat guacamole is a good one, and sour cream or Greek yogurt.
Chipotle Chicken Filled Sweet Potatoes
- 4 medium sweet potatoes
- 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons lime juice (about 1 lime)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 whole chipotle pepper, minced (more or less to taste)
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 4 cups spinach
- 1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- Cilantro and sour cream or Greek yogurt to serve
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Wash sweet potatoes and prick all over with a fork.
- Place in the oven and bake for 40-45 minutes or until fork tender.
- While potatoes are baking, put chicken in a baking dish and rub with a tablespoon of olive oil, salt and pepper. Place in the oven with the potatoes and bake for 20-30 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. Allow to cool slightly and shred with a fork. You should have about 2 cups.
- When the sweet potatoes are finished, cut them in half and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes.
- While sweet potatoes are cooling, combine the olive oil, lime juice, garlic, chipotle peppers, oregano, cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper in a medium size bowl. Set aside.
- Once sweet potatoes are cool, scrape some of the sweet potato out of the peel, leaving a medium size layer of flesh inside the peel so that it can stand up on its own and place in a greased baking dish.
- Brush the skins with some of the chipotle sauce and bake for 5-10 minutes until crisp.
- While the skins bake, heat a small skillet over medium heat and wilt the spinach. Toss the spinach, shredded chicken and remaining chipotle mixture together.
- Remove skins from the oven. Stuff with the chicken mixture, top with shredded cheese and bake for 10 minutes or until the cheese has melted and the skins are hot and crisp.
- Sprinkle with chopped cilantro and serve.
Adapted from Half Baked Harvest
Nutrition Panel: Serving Size: 2 skins Calories: 425kcal Carbohydrate: 20g Fat: 30g Protein: 32g