The middle of the winter season calls for comforting casseroles that don't skimp on flavor. This gluten-free, vegetarian casserole uses both smoked mozzarella cheese and smoky paprika to liven up sweet potatoes and black beans, and it's hearty enough to serve as a main or side dish.
For a Better Casserole, Cook the Onions First
As much as I wished that I could just stir all the ingredients together and throw the ingredients into the oven, the raw onions never quite softened up even after a long bake time. Instead, a quick sauté did the trick to make them tender and sweet.
While you might think that the dish then takes longer to put together, the onions cook in about the same amount of time it takes to peel and dice the sweet potatoes, so get those started first while you prep everything else and you'll be fine.
Canned black beans and drained canned tomatoes join the sweet potatoes and onions for the base, but the crowning finish to this casserole is a blanket of smoky, melted mozzarella cheese. It's worth it to seek out this cheese — and don't be tempted to use smoked Gouda, which is drier and doesn't melt as nicely.
Smoky Sweet Potato & Black Bean Casserole
- For the casserole:
Cooking spray or olive oil
medium yellow onion, diced
sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
(28-ounce) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes, drained of juices
(15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
shredded smoked mozzarella cheese (about 7 1/2 ounces), divided
- For serving:
Coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 400°F. Coat a 9x13-inch baking dish with cooking spray or olive oil; set aside.
Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the sweet potatoes and cook until just heated through, about 5 minutes (they will not be cooked through). Transfer the mixture to a large bowl.
Add the black beans, drained tomatoes, 1 cup of the mozzarella, smoked paprika, salt, and garlic and stir to combine. Transfer to the baking dish and spread into an even layer. Sprinkle evenly with the remaining 2 cups mozzarella cheese.
Spray a large sheet of aluminum foil with cooking spray or coat with olive oil. Place the foil greased-side down over the baking dish and cover tightly. Bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake until the sweet potatoes are tender and the cheese on top is browned in spots, about 30 minutes more. Let cool 10 minutes before serving topped with yogurt and cilantro.
Storage: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.