I first made these vegan stuffed sweet potatoes about 2.5 years ago. And found them absolutely gag-worthy.
I remember very clearly, it was back in our extremely tiny city apartment, and I had taken my setup to the living room.
I tried taking photos of the potatoes on a dark surface, getting the light just right, angling the camera.
Husband and kid waiting in the kitchen, probably starving. So – no pressure.
But I just felt so sick from those potatoes… Because I was 8 weeks pregnant with our second daughter.
It took a lot of self-pep-talk to get me to eat anything orange even after she was born. Sweet potatoes were my worst offenders, which made me super sad because I love them so much.
It took even more self-pep-talk to make this exact dish again – but I did it and I’m so excited about it!
It’s really, really hard to find plant-based main dishes for the holiday season. I mean, dishes that actually taste nice and don’t try to imitate turkey.
But I’m very happy to report that this one totally fits the bill. I might be biased but you won’t know unless you give it a try.
You can even make the lentils as a standalone main if you want them in a grain bowl or something like that, instead of stuffing a potato with them.
I make them all the time (I mean, when I’m not making curry) because they’re fast (yay for pressure cookers! – but no worries if you don’t have one, they also work great on the stove), easy and absolutely delicious.
The magic ingredient in there? Walnuts! And spices. Lots and lots of spices.
If you don’t have Ras el Hanout, I have added spices you can use instead. Or you can order some right here on Amazon*, it’s worth it.
But about those walnuts… They just add so much hearty texture to the lentils. It’s something so simple to do, but it turns a pot of lentils into something totally different and new-agey.
Some wicked kitchen alchemy right there.
They turn softish but not mushy. I also love how they add this toasty, oaky, deep flavour.
I decided to steam the potatoes vs baking them, because they just turn out the plumpest and are really robust for filling.
Don’t forget to start steaming the potatoes right away when you get into the kitchen, because they do take about 40 minutes to be done.
The only exception to this rule is if you don’t have a pressure cooker and do the lentils on the stove instead: Then you need to get started on the lentils first, as they’ll take about 30 minutes in a regular pot. While the nuts are toasting, you’ll need to make sure you get the potatoes into that steamer. Then you’ll have everything ready at the same time.
On a final note, I can assure you that these Hearty Lentil Walnut Stuffed Sweet Potatoes have absolutely zero gag-worthiness about them – unless you’re eight weeks pregnant. In which case I have no solution for you but the sofa, Netflix and saltines.
Hearty Lentil Walnut Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
Hearty Lentil Walnut Stuffed Sweet Potatoes are a great vegan and gluten free holiday dish. Try them for a healthy main!
- 4 medium-large sweet potatoes
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 large yellow onions finely chopped
- 4 cloves garlic finely minced
- 1 cup roughly chopped walnuts
- 2 tablespoons ras el hanout or use a mix of paprika, cumin and turmeric
- 1 cup beluga lentils that's the black ones - so substitutions!
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 cups water
- 1-2 teaspoons fine sea salt
- 1 cup tomato sauce
- Harissa to taste (optional)
- Cilantro and pomegranate to serve
Make the potatoes: Steam the sweet potatoes for about 40 minutes or until soft.
- Sauté the ingredients: In the meantime, heat the olive oil in a pressure cooker. Sauté the onion and garlic until softened. Stir in the walnuts and toast until starting to brown. Stir in the spice mix, lentils and tomato paste and sauté until fragrant.
- Cook the lentils: Pour the water into the pressure cooker and stir well. Season with salt and cook on high pressure for 8 minutes for a stovetop pressure cooker, 10 minutes for an electric pressure cooker (such as the Instant Pot).
- Finish the filling: Quick-release the pressure. Stir in the tomato sauce and harissa if using (start with 1/2 teaspoon, then adjust to how spicy you like it) and simmer gently without the lid until the lentils are completely done and the sauce has thickened, about 5 minutes.
- Stuff the potatoes: Pierce the potatoes with a pointy knife to check for doneness. When they're done, remove them from the steamer and set them on plates. Make space for the filling (I like to cut out a slice of the potato lengthwise), then spoon the lentil filling inside. It's OK if a little spills over - the more, the better! Top with cilantro and pomegranate to serve.
If you don't have a pressure cooker, you can cook the lentils on the stove in a Dutch oven: Start sautéing the ingredients before you steam the potatoes. As soon as the walnuts are getting toasty, get those potatoes into the steamer. Follow the recipe for the lentils as written, but simmer them for 25 minutes with the lid on before adding the tomato sauce.
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