While it can be exciting to try totally new foods and combinations, it’s also perfectly fine to stick with classic, comfortable favorites like these Sloppy Joe Sweet Potato Boats. In my house, with two teens, busy schedules make it a challenge to get everyone around the dinner table at the same time. So, if I can make the meal preparation part easier with a simple dinner like this, that makes everything else go more smoothly!
This comfort-food recipe is one of our fall and winter favorites. The sloppy joe mixture includes a hefty dose of onions and peppers, and with an added veggie side like a leafy green salad (or, my lazy veggie side pictured here – pickles!), it’s a well-rounded real-food meal that even a picky eater can appreciate.
Here are some ways you can jump start your prep ahead of time, to get this dinner on the table even more quickly:
- Chop the onion and pepper earlier in the week, and store in refrigerator until use.
- Sweet potatoes can be cooked ahead and stored in refrigerator until use. A quick reheat is all they’ll need.
If you’re going to spend time making this recipe, you might as well leverage your efforts and make a little bit extra of some of the ingredients to repurpose in other meals during the week. I like to call these my “Now & Laters” – I’m prepping some for now, and some for later use in other meals, with hardly any extra effort.
NOW & LATER:
- The sloppy joe mixture freezes very well, so consider doubling that part of the recipe, so you can store a batch for a quick dinner another time. A 12-inch or larger skillet is best to use if doubling the recipe.
- Throw extra sweet potatoes on the baking sheet, which will give you enough for another dinner later in the week, or to have with eggs at breakfast, or to tuck into a lunchbox or burrito bowl.
- Wondering what to do with the rest of that tomato paste in the can? Scoop it out in tablespoon-size portions on a baking sheet or dish, and place in freezer. Once they’re frozen, remove from dish, and store them in the freezer in a container or ziploc bag. Let’s face it, you typically only need a tablespoon or two in a given recipe, so why buy a new can each time? This saves you the hassle of shopping for it over and over again.
- 1 lb ground beef (If possible, choose grass-fed. I typically use 85% lean or 90% lean.)
- 1 tbsp oil (I used extra virgin olive oil.)
- 1 1/4 tablespoons honey
- 2 teaspoons Montreal seasoning Check label for “clean” ingredients. My favorite one is from Teeny Tiny Spice Company.
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 1 small red bell pepper chopped
- approx. 2 cups tomato sauce canned, not marinara
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 2 medium sweet potatoes scrubbed clean and cut in half lengthwise
- Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil and beef to the pan, spreading it around the pan to break it up. Add honey and Montreal seasoning, and stir to combine.
- When the meat has browned, add the onion and red pepper.
- Reduce heat to medium and cook for five minutes.
- Add vinegar, stirring briefly to reduce, then add Worcestershire sauce, tomato sauce and paste, stirring to combine.
- Reduce heat to simmer and cook Sloppy Joe mixture five minutes longer.
- Serve each portion of meat on ½ cup or so of baked sweet potato. If you want the "boat" effect, scoop out a bit of the potato to form a boat shape which is perfect for holding the sloppy joe meat. The extra, leftover sweet potato can be reserved for another meal.
- Preheat oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment for easier clean up.
- Rinse potatoes and scrub clean. Cut in half lengthwise.
- Rub cut side with a little bit of oil, and then season with salt and pepper (or for any extra potatoes, add your favorite spices).
- Place cut side down on baking sheet, and bake for about 30 minutes (until soft).