Recipe and photograph - Dr Joan Ransley

Small sweet potatoes bake quickly if they are cut in half. The baking concentrates their flavour and makes their starchy inside soft. In this dish their attractive orange coloured flesh is topped with a delicious mix of spicy beans, sliced chorizo and the zingy flavour of lime and coriander.

This recipe contains a kaleidoscope of colourful vegetables and contains a whopping 10 different plant foods. Herbs, spices, and vegetable oils all count when it comes to feeding the gut microbiome (the number of different types of bacteria living in the gut). Scientists are encouraging us to think of our microbiomes as a garden, and the fibre and phytonutrients from plant foods as a fertilizer that keeps the microbiome nurtured.

Research has shown the diversity of the plant foods in the diet is key to a healthy microbiome regardless of whether meat is eaten or not.


Preheat the oven to 220°C/gas mark 7. Scrub the sweet potatoes and dry them with a paper towel. Cut each potato in half lengthways. Place the potato halves on a baking tray, drizzle with a little olive oil and toss to ensure each half of potato is covered in a film of oil.

Now place the cut side of each potato face down on the baking tray before placing the tray in the oven for 25 minutes.

As the potatoes are cooking warm a drizzle of olive oil in a large frying pan and fry the chorizo until it begins to crispen. Add the sliced salad onions, diced red pepper, garlic, chopped tomatoes and half the chilli to the pan. Continue to cook for 10 minutes until the vegetables are soft. Add the drained black beans to the pan and mix well. Finally, add the lime juice and most of the chopped coriander, reserving a little for serving.

After 25 minutes, insert a sharp knife into each sweet potato to check it is cooked. Remove the potatoes from the oven and turn the cut side upwards. Draw a fork over the surface of each one which will help to hold the topping. Divide the bean mixture between the potato halves. Serve with a bowl of crème fraiche topped with the reserved chopped coriander and chilli.

Alternative serving suggestion

Black eyed beans are sometimes easier to get hold of than black beans and they work equally well in this recipe.

Cooking tips

  • Sliced salad onions cook faster than regular onions and can be useful when you need to cook a meal quickly.
  • Sweet potatoes bake more quickly than regular potatoes. Use the same sized sweet potatoes so they cook at the same time.
 Per Serving (g)Per 100g
Calories (Kcal/KJ)527 / 240787 / 366
Protein (g)213.2
Fat (g)142.2
Saturated Fat (g)5.30.8
Carbohydrate (g)7912
Sugar (g)487.3
Fibre (g)172.6
Sodium (mg)671.2102
Salt equivalent (g)1.70.26
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