yam tacos with habañero sauce

Sarah called these “ridiculously photogenic tacos”. Sort of the vegetarian taco version of this guy. And honestly, while I couldn’t keep myself from throwing these photos into Instagram, they didn’t need the help of the Sierra filter and the beautiful picture sunshine button. But you know, it doesn’t hurt.

Anyway, yam tacos. My goal here was to add as many bright, zingy flavors to complement the natural sweetness of the yams. I made an earthy bean puree with caramelized onions and black beans (I also cheated and used some pork fat, but vegetable oil works fine, too!). Fruity, not-too-spicy habañero sauce makes a great accompaniment: be sure to pass extra at the table for drizzling.

Sweet potato tacos

Yam Tacos with Black Beans and Habañero Sauce

makes at least 12 tacos


  • 2 large yams or sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch dice
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt
  • 2 limes (juice one and cut the other into eighths for serving)
  • 1/2 onion, roughly sliced (use the other half for the habañero sauce, below)
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 can black beans
  • 2 cups arugula
  • several radishes, sliced thinly
  • about 1 cup cotija (dry, crumbly Mexican cheese – if you can’t find it, substitute Parmesan, Romano, or Pecorino)
  • habañero sauce (recipe below)
  • 12-24 corn tortilas


Roast your yams. Preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Toss the diced yams with the olive oil and 1 tablespoon vegetable oil and a big pinch of salt (about 1 teaspoon). Spread into a single layer on a sheet pan. Roast for about 10-20 minutes, tossing once, until the pieces are deeply browned on at least one side and tender throughout. Toss with the juice of one half of a lime and set aside.

While the yams are roasting, prepare your beans. In a small saucepan, heat the remaining tablespoon vegetable oil over medium-high. Cook the onion and garlic with a pinch of salt (about 1/2 teaspoon) until starting to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the black beans and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium low and cook until very soft, about 5-10 minutes. Using a food processor, blender, or stick blender, puree until very smooth and set aside.

Preheat a nonstick or cast-iron skillet over medium high for about a minute. Heat the tortillas in the dry pan for about 20-30 seconds per side. As each one finishes, stack them in a pile and cover with a clean dishtowel so they can cook a bit more in their own steam.

Serve the tacos! Lay down your tortillas (I like to double-stack them). Add about 1 teaspoon of bean puree to each, then lay on a small handful of arugula. Drop some warm yams on top of the arugula so it wilts a little, then nestle a few radishes on top. Scatter with a good amount of cotija and drizzle with habañero sauce. Serve with lime.

Habañero Sauce

makes 2 cups
Note: habaneros are firey, so be careful when you cut them – I recommend latex gloves and a plastic cutting board. That said, this sauce really isn’t that spicy. If you want a hotter sauce, use 3 chiles, or puree a fresh chile in at the end.

  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt
  • 2 habañero chiles, stemmed and cut in half (see note)
  • 2 medium tomatoes, quartered
  • 1/2 onion, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 tablespoons white or cider vinegar
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1/2 teaspoon honey

In a medium saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat for about one minute. Add the carrots and about 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook until starting to caramelize, about 5 minutes (it’s OK if they get pretty dark). Add the chiles, tomatoes, onion, and garlic. Cook another 5-10 minutes, or until everything is saucy and smooth. Add the vinegar, lime, honey, and remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Using a food processor, blender, or stick blender, blend until completely smooth. Transfer to a squeeze bottle and serve!


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