As if the rains and COVID weren’t enough, we’ve reached the “slim-pickings” time of year for produce, even here in our mild climate. With several weeks to go before the spring debut of peas, asparagus and favas, it’s time to make the most of steadfast companions like carrots and sweet potatoes. This smoky, slightly sweet, and satisfyingly chewy braise, inspired by the Mexican dish known as tinga, requires very little beyond your pantry, a good shot of Foothill citrus, and some rice or tortillas on the side.
- 3-4 shallots or garlic cloves
- 14 ounces canned crushed tomatoes
- 3-4 canned chipotle in adobo, plus 1 teaspoon of sauce from can
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar or coconut sugar
- 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup orange juice (with zest if using fresh squeezed)
- 2 1/2 tablespoons smoked or regular paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne or crushed red pepper flakes (more or less to taste)
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (or to taste)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
- 1/2 large onion
- 3 medium sweet potatoes (about 12 ounces), washed and scrubbed
- 5 medium carrots (about 9 ounces), washed and scrubbed
- 2-3 tablespoons coconut or vegetable oil
- 3-4 cups of water
- 4-6 ounces soy chorizo (optional)
- Toppings of choice, such as chopped onion, avocado, cilantro or lime wedges
- Preheat a small oven to 350F. Drizzle the unpeeled cloves with vegetable oil, and roast until fully collapsed and soft, about 30 minutes. Set aside to cool.
- Meanwhile, empty the canned tomatoes into a medium saucepan. Mix in the chipotle in adobo, sugar, vinegar, orange juice (and zest), and all the spices. Heat over low heat to allow the flavors to mingle for 10-15 minutes.
- While the tomato sauce is heating, thinly slice the onions and shred the sweet potatoes and carrots with a food processor or box grater, ideally into long thin strands.
- In a large skillet, warm the oil over medium heat, and add the onions, sweet potatoes and carrots. Cook 7-10 minutes, or until the vegetable are starting to soften, stirring constantly since the starchy sweet potatoes will want to stick to the pan. Add the water, using a wooden spoon to scrape any browned bits off the bottom of the pan. Cook until the water is evaporated and the vegetables are tender.
- Squeeze the softened garlic or shallot interiors out of their skins into the pot, mix in the soy chorizo (if using) to break it up and heat it through, then pour in the warmed, spiced tomatoes and stir to incorporate.
- Heat for 3-5 minutes over low heat to allow the flavors to mingle. Add salt, pepper, cayenne or any other spice to taste.
- Serve warm with rice, tortillas, and/or beans, and top as you choose, with chopped onion, avocado, cilantro or lime wedges. Tinga also makes a delicious taco or burrito filling, or tostada topping.
- Don’t peel the sweet potatoes or carrots, simply wash and scrub them to clean well. The skins are rich in vitamins and minerals.
- Tinga offers a great opportunity to use up other vegetables you may have around. Zucchini, potatoes, and mushrooms would also work well.
This recipe will appear in my forthcoming What’s for Dinner: Plant-rich feasts for any occasion, available for pre-order now. The book is the first volume in an eco-cooking series, meeting the dinner challenge with a set of full-bodied, vegan and vegetarian entrées, plus plant-based starters, sides and desserts, meant to anchor celebratory meals.
Reprinted with permission from Stone Pier Press