Happy Friday! I’m feeling buoyed by a few days of sweet spring weather and celebration of my mom’s birthday a couple of days ago; it was such a gift to carve out a special evening for her. And I’m excited to be sharing this scrumptious recipe for sweet potato skin nachos from my friend Ali’s new cookbook, Inspiralized & Beyond.
I’ve known Ali through blogging for years now, and I’ve always appreciated her enthusiastic, yet totally down-to-earth and relatable approach to healthful cooking and eating. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Ali’s work, she’s known for being the creator of the Inspiralizer, which is the type of spiralizer I use at home, and the Inspiralized website.
Ali was able to enhance her own health by using spiralized vegetable bases as part of her meals, and her past cookbooks (I’ve written about both of them, here and here) have been full of creative, inspiring, spiralizer meals. In recent years Ali’s recipes have become more inclusive: she still spiralizes often, but her main goal is to showcase vegetables in interesting and unexpected ways.
Her new book, Inspiralized & Beyond, is dedicated to that goal. The subtitle is “spiralize/chop/rice & hash your vegetables into creative, craveable meals,” and it’s a perfect summary of what the recipes are all about. There are zucchini boats, Brussels sprout sliders, cauliflower and cabbage steaks, zucchini dumplings, jicama shell tacos, and of course, plenty of vegetable noodles.
As someone who eats plenty of the starches that riced and spiralized vegetables are intended to replace, I don’t often bookmark zoodle or cauli rice recipes. But I do love using vegetables creatively, and summer is an especially nice time to allow them to be the centerpiece of meals. I also often recommend investing in a spiralizer to clients who are struggling to eat more veggies: spiralized zucchini, carrot, beet, celery root, and butternut squash can be folded into traditional spaghetti, soups, and stir-fries for a subtle, nutrient-dense boost.
Now I’ll be recommending Ali’s new book, too. She describes her goal as being “not just making vegetables taste good,” but rather “turning them into meals that will inspire you and surprise both your mind and your taste buds.” As always her recipes are creative, fun, and accessible, and they channel her infectious love of food, which I’ve always appreciated in her work and as her friend. I’m already excited to try the jicama chips with a chili-spiced cashew dip, the Brussels sprout and tofu mini-sliders, the beet poke bowls, jicama tacos, and the split pea dal in acorn squash cups (yum!).
This isn’t a vegan cookbook: I’d say about a quarter of the recipes are vegan as written, and half are vegetarian. Among the vegetarian options, many can be veganized with a vegan cheese; a few (like the delicata squash cups with baked eggs) could be made vegan with tofu scramble in place of eggs. If you’re keen on dedicated vegan options only, this may not be the right book for you, but if you’re trying to eat more plants overall, I think it’s a super resource.
I can already tell that I’ll use a lot of Ali’s tips for using vegetables to create my own templates for meals. And in the front matter, she explains in detail what she means by “beyond,” explaining which vegetables work best for which forms (noodles, rice, buns or wraps, etc.) and saying a few words on how to use plant-based proteins if you’re trying to eat less meat.
These baked sweet potato nachos have already taught me something! I’ve made twice-baked potatoes before (this one is a fave), mashing the center of the potato up and then stuffing the potatoes before baking. Ali’s recipe calls for scooping the potato flesh out, saving it for whatever (I made a sweet potato mash and served it with baked tofu and broccoli for dinner), then broiling the skins till they’re crispy. They turn into a very handy, all-veggie “nacho” chip.
Be sure to leave about 1/4-inch of flesh in the potato skins, so that they aren’t too thin when you bake them (if they are, they might burn). Ali notes this, but I forgot to do it when I was scooping my first two halves, so I thought I’d mention it. I didn’t have cilantro or scallions, so I substituted chopped romaine—next time I’d definitely use the former for extra flavor.
Alis’ recipe calls for shredded cheese. You could omit this altogether if you wish—with all of the toppings, the recipe will still be super tasty. You can also use a vegan shredded cheese, or you can use a vegan cheese sauce, which is what I did! I used the carrot cheese sauce from this mac n’ cheese recipe, which I’m loving on baked potatoes lately. My cashew queso sauce would work well, too. Here’s the recipe.
- 4 medium sweet potatoes
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Fine sea salt and pepper
- 1 15-ounce can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
- 1/2 cup no-salt-added canned corn kernels drained and rinsed (or 1/2 cup frozen and thawed corn)
- 1 cup carrot cheese sauce from my carrot mac recipe, cashew queso sauce, or 2 cups shredded vegan cheese of choice
- 1 large jalapeño pepper sliced into very thin rounds
- 1 medium tomato seeded and diced
- 1 to 2 avocados pitted, peeled, and cubed
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
- 1/4 cup sliced scallions
- 1/4 cup finely chopped white onion I omitted in my version
- 1 lime quartered, for serving
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees with a rack in the center position.
Pierce each potato 4 times with a fork. Place the potatoes directly on the oven rack and bake until the skins are crisp and the flesh is fork-tender, 45 to 55 minutes. Let cool for about 10 minutes, until cool enough to handle. Turn the broiler to high.
Halve each potato lengthwise, then cut each half in half crosswise. Using a spoon, scoop out the flesh, leaving about 1/4 inch intact. Reserve the flesh for another use (or snack on it now).
Brush the skins on both sides with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Arrange them skin-side up on a baking sheet, spacing them apart, and broil until the skins start to crisp, 2 to 3 minutes, monitoring them closely so they don’t burn. Flip the potato skins over and broil until the top edges just start to brown, 2 to 3 minutes more.
Reduce the oven temperature to 400 degrees. Push the skins together on the baking sheet so they are just touching. Top with the beans and corn. Drizzle the cheese sauce (or sprinkle the cheese) evenly over the top and bake until the cheese melts and ingredients are all warm, about 5 minutes.
Immediately garnish with the jalapeño, tomato, avocado, cilantro, scallions, and white onion if using. Season with salt. Serve warm, with lime wedges.
Ali and her publisher have generously offered one US reader the chance to win a copy of Inspiralized & Beyond plus an Inspliralizer to play with! I love my Inspiralizer and am really excited about this giveaway. Enter below, and I’ll announce a winner two weeks from today.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Good luck! And I hope you’ll enjoy this recipe—it’s perfect for summer parties and gatherings. See you on Sunday for the weekly roundup.