People. I pray you are not in Chicago. It is barricade-yourself-in-your-home-and-drink-red-wine-to-stay-warm kind of cold here. The reality of the Midwestern winter was put into brutal perspective for me after this weekend, which I spent in sunny, happy, these-people-must-be-on-meds-they-smile-so-much Austin, TX. This is a land where the weather hung out in the indisputably blissful 70s throughout the entirety of my visit. Then, I boarded a plane. Then, a mere two hours later, I landed in Chicago aka Iceland. As soon as the plane doors were opened to release us into Iceland, the savage air pushed its way in and we could all see our breath. WHILE WE WERE STILL ON THE PLANE. This has never happened to me.
It was 7 degrees. That’s over a 60 degree drop! Are you getting the picture? Are you understanding my need for drug-like foods so hot, steamy and yummy they just might make you forget about the next few months of pain that lie ahead? Ok, good. This brings me to my latest concoction, which I have made not one, but three times in the past month. It’s crave-inducing, a snap to make and uber healthy. It will make you forget the snow piling up outside your door. Especially if you pair it with margaritas, as we did during its latest showing at a dear friend’s dinner party.
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 massive yellow onion, diced
5 garlic cloves, minced
one 4 ounce can diced green chilies
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons chili powder (I prefer HOT)
4 cups sweet potatoes, diced into 1/2 inch pieces
one 15 ounce can of your very favorite salsa (red or green)
salt and pepper, to taste
one 15 ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
6 corn tortillas, cut into chunky strips
1 cup crumbled queso fresco cheese
1.) Heat oil in a large, oven-proof skillet over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and chilies and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Raise heat to medium-high and add cumin, chili powder, squash, and salsa and cook until fork-tender, about 15 minutes. If things start getting messy and sticking to the bottom of the skillet (aka burning), add a bit more olive oil, reduce heat and cover the skillet to allow it to steam-up for a few minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Preheat your oven broiler to high.
2.) With the heat at medium, add black beans, tortilla strips, and 1/2 cup of cheese. Stir well to ensure everything is combined and the tortilla strips are coated. Simmer for a few minutes, constantly scraping the bottom of the skillet to release the tasty browned bits. Finally, sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese across the skillet.
3.) Place skillet, uncovered, in the oven on the middle rack for 5 minutes or so, until cheese is browned. Keep your eye on it, as things can go from “pleasantly browned” to charred in mere seconds. Serve with generous heaps of cilantro, hot sauce and extra corn tortillas.