Sweet Potato Black Bean Bowls

SWEET POTATO BLACK BEAN BOWLS WITH KALE, SEEDS, AVOCADO, AND LEMON-TAHINI SAUCE. A LIGHT BUT FILLING SHEET PAN DINNER THAT ALSO HAPPENS TO BE VEGAN!

An overhead of two sweet potato black bean bowls on a grey table with a grey linen, a bowl of tahini sauce, pepitas, and a jar of pickled onions.

In case you’re getting to a point where you can’t stand to eat one more damn cookie from the batch that you thought would be a good idea to freeze in case you got snacky and sad, here’s some vegetables and super foods! When I said in my blog post last week that I meal prepped, I meant it! I threw together these sweet potato and black bean bowls early last week, and they lasted so long, that Marc and I definitely won’t be eating them again for at least two more months. But, it was fun while it lasted, and I learned how to switch up veggie bowls so that I don’t get entirely too sick of them!

On top of feeding us for lunch and dinner for a few days, these bowls also happened to make a great breakfast! Rice is unnecessary when you go the breakfast route, because you can just plop the veggie mixture on a plate, top with a runny egg, and voilà, it’s suddenly a hash.

Here’s what you’ll need for sweet potato black bean bowls

An overhead shot of a pot of rice placed on a linen, bowl of pepitas, bowl of tahini dressing, avocado, bowls, and half a lemon in a curved shape on a grey speckled counter.

The best part of these bowls is that they require mostly basic pantry staples + a few things from the produce aisle! While the lemon-tahini sauce is optional, I would highly recommend making it! It adds so much delicious, nutty flavor to the dish. However, if you can’t find tahini, no worries. We’ll talk about it later.

Also, I realize this looks like a ton of ingredients, but a lot of it is spices and other typical things you probably already have in your kitchen. You can mix up the ingredients if you want to customize your bowls, but here’s what I used:

  • Sweet Potatoes: I use jewel sweet potatoes, but any are ok!
  • Olive Oil: Or whatever oil you like to use for roasting.
  • Chili Powder: For spice.
  • Smoked Paprika: Or regular!
  • Cayenne: For more spice.
  • Salt and Pepper: Always.
  • Garlic: A necessary component of any savory dish.
  • Rosemary: Fresh or dried is fine!
  • Kale: I use curly, but get whatever you can find.
  • Red Bell Pepper: Or pepper of choice.
  • Black Beans: Just one can.
  • Tahini: See substitutions below!
  • Lemon: Goes perfectly with tahini.
  • Brown Rice: Or any grain you like.
  • Toppings: Avocado, seeds (I like pumpkin, chia, and flax), cheese, eggs, etc.

Time to make sweet potato black bean bowls!

Two bird's eye shots of a sheet pan placed on a grey table. On the first pan, there is roasted sweet potatoes. On the second pan, there is roasted sweet potatoes, peppers, and kale.

Before you begin, remember to start your rice! How many times have you forgotten to start the rice and then dinner is half an hour late? The woooorst.

Next, spread the sweet potatoes on a sheet pan, and drizzle with olive oil. Toss with the chili powder, smoked paprika, cayenne, garlic, rosemary, salt, and pepper and bake at 400°F for about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, chop up the pepper and tear the kale. Toss with more olive oil, salt, and pepper, and add to the sheet pan. Bake for another 10-15 minutes, until the veggies are tender and the kale is crispy. Sprinkle the black beans over the sheet pan, and bake for another 3-5 minutes, just until the beans are warmed.

While everything is baking, you’ll want to prepare your rice, any toppings, and the sauce! If you’re making the lemon-tahini sauce, just whisk together the tahini, lemon juice, some water, a clove of garlic, and a pinch of salt. It will seize and get clumpy, but just keep going! If it’s thick, continue adding water or lemon juice until it’s nice and saucy.

Serve the veggies over rice with sauce, seeds, avocado, and other toppings of choice!

A side photo of sweet potato black bean bowls, surrounded by another veggie bowl and ingredients on a speckled grey table.

Sweet Potato Black Bean Bowl Toppings

These bowls are customizable, which is the best part! You can use different veggies, different grains, whatever you like. As for toppings, I like to add avocado, a squeeze of lemon, and lots of seeds to my bowls! (Seeds are basically savory sprinkles, yeah?) However, if you’re feeling a little ambitious, there are lots of other fun things you can add to round out the meal:

  • Fried Eggs: Obviously not vegan, but so delicious!
  • Feta Cheese: Parmesan or queso fresco are great too if you can’t find feta.
  • Pickled Onions: Anything pickled, really.
  • Fresh Herbs: There’s never a bad time for fresh herbs. Try chives or cilantro!
  • Greek Yogurt: I’ll put plain Greek yogurt on anything.
  • Chicken: If you need some meat, grilled or sauteed chicken would be delicious.

What if I can’t find tahini?

I’m lucky that tahini just sits on the shelves in my grocery store. However, I know that’s not the case for everyone. If you can’t find tahini, but you still want to make a sauce, try plain Greek yogurt! As much as I love tahini, I will never say no to garlicky, lemony yogurt sauce. Or, you can always order tahini online!

Bonus: Sweet potato black bean bowls are vegan!

If vegan is your thing, then these bowls are for you! Obviously, if you add eggs and cheese and yogurt, that will not be the case. But, they will still be vegetarian! They also happen to be gluten free. So, you can pretty much make these bowls for anyone which is gr8.

How to meal prep sweet potato black bean bowls

These are my perfect meal prep situtation! Once you get all of the ingredients prepped, all you have to do is layer the bowls together into six airtight containers however you please. Top with a lid, and store them in the fridge for up to one week. I would recommend adding seeds right before you eat, or they may get soggy in the fridge. Also, maybe add avocado last-minute, or it’ll get brown and funky.

A few tips and tricks

  • Make sure not to crowd the veggies, or they will steam rather than bake. If necessary, use two sheet pans so that the veggies get nice and crisp.
  • Double the tahini dressing if you have no self control (hi, me).
  • The veggies may get a bit soggy in the fridge. To crisp them back up, reheat them at 350°F just until they are warm.
A closeup bird's eye shot of a veggie and grain bowl with avocado, lemon, and a fork sticking out of the side.

Other delicious veggie recipes!

Farro Salad with Acorn Squash, Kale, + Pomegranate
Spring Panzanella Salad
Kale Salad with Greek Yogurt Caesar Dressing
Carrot Salad with Pistachios, Queso Fresco, + Shallot Dressing

Sweet Potato Black Bean Bowls



xo Sara Lynn

*Song of the day: What Would I Do? by Strawberry Guy

Sweet Potato Black Bean Bowls with Kale, Avocado, and Lemon-Tahini Dressing | Serendipity by Sara Lynn
Sweet Potato Black Bean Bowls with Kale & Lemon-Tahini Dressing | Serendipity by Sara Lynn

Thai Chicken and Rice Soup

THAI CHICKEN AND RICE SOUP IS ONE OF OUR FAVORITE COZY, ONE-POT WEEKNIGHT DINNERS THAT WE USUALLY MAKE ONCE A MONTH, REGARDLESS OF THE SEASON. WITH LIME JUICE, FISH SAUCE, SOY SAUCE, AND FRESH HERBS, IT’S SPICY, FRESH, AND PERFECTLY SALTY!

An overhead shot of a bowl of chicken and rice soup with fresh herbs, surrounded by another bowl of soup, herbs, and hot sauce on a grey speckled table.
Continue reading “Thai Chicken and Rice Soup”

Cacio e Pepe with Fried Shallots

CHEESY, PEPPERY, AND PERFECTLY AL DENTE CACIO E PEPE WITH FRIED SHALLOTS.

An overhead view of three bowls of pasta on a grey table surrounded by a dark green linen, a glass of white wine, and a bowl of fried shallots.
A side shot of a white bowl of pasta on a grey background, surrounded by more bowls, a green linen, a bowl of fried onions, and a glass of wine.

So far this week, I have done enough squats for my legs to turn into jelly, planned (but not yet planted) a small front-porch garden, and made a Sunday dinner consisting of leftover Easter brunch cinnamon rolls and chicken with brown rice and veggies. I even *meal prepped* and took a two-hour nap which, for me, is unheard of. The line between productivity and self-annihilation is thin, but it is one I’m willing to ride out.

Anyways, I know it’s important to stay healthy right now, so we’ve been eating lots of veggies and working out every (week)day. But sometimes, things still feel a bit overwhelming, yes? And we must indulge ourselves with self-care and comfort food akin to mac and cheese! And that, my friends, is when we put on cashmere drawstring sweatpants and make cacio e pepe!

What is cacio e pepe?

Cacio e pepe is a Roman pasta dish that literally translates to “cheese and pepper”, a.k.a. two perfect ingredients. It’s made up with only the most basic pantry staples: pasta, black pepper, and Pecorino Romano cheese, and it’s pronounced “ka-chee-oh eh peh-peh” (which borderline reminds me of Lightning McQueen, but let’s not go there). Think of it as adult mac and cheese, but without all the fancy stuff that comes in “adult” mac and cheese recipes, like gruyere or prosciutto or spring peas. It really is the most basic of dishes but it’s a dream of a comfort food. And in this version, we take it up a notch with fried shallots. Because tbh, there’s really never a bad time for fried onions. 🙂

An overhead picture of a jar of pasta, a bowl of parmesan, a pinch pot of salt, a plate of peppercorns, a bowl of parsley, a spaghetti spoon, and a few shallots on a grey background.

Cacio e pepe ingredients

I really can’t think of a recipe with more basic ingredients, but in this version, we’re getting a little *fancy* with fried shallots! However, this only requires two extra ingredients, so we’re really keeping it simple here. Pantry pasta forever. <3

  • Shallots: Go for two large or three small! Sometimes, I make extra just to have around.
  • Neutral Oil: You’ll want something neutral for frying like vegetable or canola oil. I usually go with canola!
  • Pasta: You’re going to want a long pasta here. I believe that bucatini is the most traditional, but I usually use regular spaghetti since I always have it around!
  • Freshly Cracked Black Pepper: The freshly-cracked part is important. The fresher the pepper, the more flavorful your pasta will be!
  • Pecorino Romano/Parmesan: Some people swear Pecorino Romano is the only way, but I’m fine with Parmesan, and I think you should be too! Use what you have or what’s available to you.
  • Salt: For flavoring the pasta water!

Let’s make fried shallots!

An overhead photo of a black pan filled with shallots frying in oil on a grey speckled counter.

I know, frying, ugh. I can undoubtedly tell you that I usually hate frying. But, shallots are the exception, because they are sooo easy and not messy! Plus, the leftover oil is actually useful and doesn’t need to be thrown away immediately.

To fry shallots, I use the Bon Appetit method! You start by thinly cutting a few peeled large shallots. The best way to do this is with a mandolin, but I don’t like washing a mandolin over two shallots, so I just do it by hand. 🤷 You just want them to be about as thin as a dime! Next, place them in a pan, and fill the pan with just enough canola/vegetable oil to cover the shallots (about 1/3 cup).

Set the heat to medium-low, and cook until the shallots are deep golden-brown about 20 minutes. Stir often with the tines of a fork to separate the shallots! (Pro tip: Keep an eye on these, especially towards the end! Once they start browning, they will brown quick). Drain the fried shallots through a fine-mesh strainer (reserve the oil!) and place on a paper towel to mop up any extra grease. Season with salt and let cool! Store in an airtight container for up to three days.

How to make Cacio E pepe with fried shallots!

A bird's eye photo of a pasta strainer filled with spaghetti on a grey speckled table.

While you are frying your shallots, you will want to start your pasta! Fill a large pot with water and add a few heavy pinches of salt. Cook your pasta for one minute less than the package directions recommend. (We will continue cooking the pasta in the sauce later). Before you drain the spaghetti, make sure to save at least one and a half cups of the cooking liquid which will make up our sauce!

Overhead shot of a white pot filled with oil, fresh pepper, spaghetti, and parmesan.

After draining your pasta, dry the pot, and return it to the stove. Heat three tablespoons of the leftover shallot frying oil over medium heat. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons of freshly cracked pepper (about 50 turns) to oil, and cook to bloom the flavor, about one minute. Stir in half a cup of the leftover pasta water until everything is combined. Add the pasta, and coat well with the sauce, stirring until perfectly al dente. Add more pasta water as necessary until the cacio e pepe is perfectly saucy.

Remove the pasta from the heat, and quickly stir in the Pecorino Romano/Parmesan until you have a smooth, silky sauce. Taste, season with salt, and divide between four bowls. Top with fried shallots and enjoy!

Parmesan or pecorino Romano?

Traditionally, Pecorino Romano cheese is used in cacio e pepe. But, I’m all about accessibility and not every store has the cheese aisle of a French market. If you can’t find Pecorino Romano, just use some grated Parmesan! P.S. of course freshly grated is always better than pre-grated. But I don’t like shredding cheese, and if you don’t either, let’s just use pre-grated and not feel bad about it, ok?

How do I know when spaghetti is al dente?

Pasta is al dente when it has just a tiny bite to it. It will not be mushy or crunchy, and the center will have a slight white core. Package directions are not always clear, so it’s important to try your pasta to make sure it’s perfectly al dente!

You need to use freshly cracked black pepper, trust

Ok, I know this seems fussy, but it’s v important for cacio e pepe! When pre-ground black pepper (or any herb for that matter) sits around exposed to air, it rapidly loses flavor over time. But, when we use freshly ground black pepper, it isn’t exposed for the air for too long before we start cooking with it. This will lead to bright, aromatic, spicy flavors, not dull and boring nothing-ness.

cacio e pepe is great with all kinds of pasta

Bucatini is the most common pasta used in cacio e pepe, but it’s not the only option! Usually, I use spaghetti because it’s what I can find in the grocery store. While long, thin pastas work best with the cheese and pepper sauce, there are a few other types of pastas you can use! Besides bucatini or spaghetti, I would also recommend:

  • Fettuccine: A flat, long pasta
  • Pappardelle: A very thick, long pasta. One of my faves!
  • Linguine: A little thicker than spaghetti but not as thick as fettuccine.
  • Stuffed pastas: Tortellini, ravioli, etc.

Unfortunately, tubed pastas such as penne or rigatoni don’t work great, because they don’t hold on to the sauce quite as well.

A close-up overhead shot of a bowl of cacio e pepe next to an emerald green linen, bowl of fried shallots, and a small wooden bowl of salt on a grey background.

pasta water vs. regular water

The reason we use pasta water to bring everything together is the starch! The salts and starches in the water not only adds flavor, but it also binds the oil, pepper, and cheese to the pasta so you get a smooth, silky sauce! If you use regular water, you’ll just end up with a puddle of water at the bottom of the pot instead of a sauce.

Butter or shallot oil?

A lot of recipes call for butter in the sauce, because butter is just straight-up delicious. However, I like to use the reserved shallot oil, because 1. it’s adds soooo much good flavor, and 2. less waste. You will probably have more shallot oil leftover after this recipe, so just store it in a jar and use it for other sauces, stir fries, and salad dressings in the future!

Storing Cacio E Pepe

Cacio e pepe is really one of those dishes that is just better day-of. The pasta will dry out a little bit once you put it in the fridge. It’s not necessarily bad, just not as good as fresh cacio e pepe! If you refrigerate the leftover pasta, just keep it in an airtight container, and add a small splash of water before you microwave the pasta. Stir well, top with leftover fried shallots, and enjoy! Definitely don’t store the cacio e pepe with the fried shallots in the fridge, or the shallots will get soggy!

How to serve cacio e pepe

Cacio e pepe is honestly good on its own, but if you’re like me, a veggie or side completes a meal! Here are a few things we like:

  • An arugula salad with a simple vinaigrette
  • Roasted broccoli or green beans
  • Grilled asparagus or zucchini
  • Caprese salad
  • Melon with prosciutto!
  • Garlic bread (duh)

Cacio e pepe ad-ins

If you want to take cacio e pepe up a notch, you can always add:

  • A couple handfuls of arugula or spinach (let it wilt before serving)
  • Fresh spring peas!
  • A few cloves garlic
  • Cooked chicken, bacon, or prosciutto
  • A squeeze of lemon!
  • Fresh herbs. I like a little fresh parsley once in a while.

A few tips!

Cacio e pepe is a pretty simple dish, but there are a few things to keep in mind to make sure it’s perfect!

  • When boiling the pasta, make sure not to use too much water! We want the pasta to cook in a small amount of water so it gets very starchy and flavorful.
  • Reserve some of the pasta water right before you drain to make sure it’s nice and starchy!
  • Bloom the freshly ground pepper by cooking it in the oil for about a minute. This will bring out all of the amazing flavors!
  • Remove the pasta from the heat before you add in the cheese, or it will get too hot and clump up.
  • Add more pasta water as necessary to get a nice, silky sauce.
  • Top with fried shallots right before serving so they don’t get soggy.
A side shot of a bowl of spaghetti with fried shallots on top, surrounded by a green linen, more bowls of pasta, fried shallots, and a glass of wine on a grey table.

Some other italian dishes you’ll love!

Marinated White Beans with Toast
Best Sicilian Pizza
Marc’s Meatball Subs
Lasagna Bolognese
London Fog Tiramisu with Lavender

cacio e pepe with fried shallots



xo Sara Lynn

*Song of the day: He Loves Me by Brittany Howard

Cacio e Pepe with Fried Shallots | Serendipity by Sara Lynn
Cacio e Pepe (literally "cheese and pepper) made with spaghetti, freshly-ground pepper, Pecorino Romano, and topped with homemade fried shallots.

Make Ahead Breakfast Burritos

Make ahead breakfast burritos with scrambled eggs, turkey sausage, vegetables, beans, cheese, and hash browns, rolled up in a whole wheat flour tortilla!

An overhead shot of a breakfast burrito on a white plate with a black rim, with a side of green salsa. The plate is on a white marble counter with a cup of coffee and hot sauce.

A few years ago, when I was in college, I spent one whole day making freezer meals, and as luck would have it, my fucking freezer broke overnight. I was devastated and haven’t really gotten back into the whole “make ahead meals” things ever since. But, with lots of craziness in the world, having some frozen meals on hand isn’t necessarily a bad idea. Especially when I can eat said meals in the car with one hand in the form of make ahead breakfast burritos!

I have been planning on making some freezer breakfast burritos for a while, but this past weekend was finally the time I decided to get my ish together and actually do it. I was looking for a burrito that tasted like the greasy hangover breakfast burritos I ate in college but had the nutritional benefits of a kale smoothie. Turns out, that’s impossible! But, I still think I got pretty close thanks to a few healthier swaps like turkey sausage and whole wheat tortillas. 😛

A few Details

These breakfast burritos are perfect for anyone who forgets about breakfast almost every single day (hi) and resorts to eating a salad or Greek yogurt or a chocolate bar just to get something in their belly. But, we all know that breakfast can be so much better. And wholesome. And well-rounded. Which is where make-ahead breakfast burritos come into play.

This recipe has scrambled eggs, turkey sausage, peppers, potatoes, black beans, and cheese stuffed into a whole wheat flour tortilla. Marc insisted on the potatoes, but if you’re going for an extra boost of health, you could always throw in a few handfuls of spinach or arugula instead! I like serving the burritos with guac, salsa, and fresh fruit to complete the whole meal.

A 45 degree shot of a breakfast burrito on a white plate with a white marble background. Next to the plate is a pink linen, a cup of coffee, and a jar of hot sauce.

Ingredients you’ll need for make ahead breakfast burritos

The beauty of breakfast burritos is that you can pretty much put anything in them. They’re so easy to make vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, etc. However, I eat pretty much all things, so mine just requires basic ingredients you can find in any grocery store. You’ll need:

  • Turkey Sausage: The turkey gives us some protein and is a bit healthier than pork sausage! Chicken sausage would work as well.
  • Shredded Potatoes: We just used regular potatoes from the freezer aisle, but I also love breakfast burritos with shredded or cubed sweet potatoes!
  • Bell Pepper: I use one green and one red pepper for some extra veggies!
  • Eggs: Scrambled eggs are a must in breakfast burritos!
  • Milk: Makes the eggs a little creamier, but not necessary if you don’t have it around.
  • Black Beans: Another source of protein and veggies!
  • Shredded Cheese: All burritos need cheese, yes?
  • Whole Wheat Tortillas: Regular, spinach, and gluten-free tortillas would all work great.
  • Sides of Choice: Guac, salsa, hot sauce, etc. (This is one of my favorite store-bought salsas but I usually try to find one that’s spicier and fresh!)

How to make freezer breakfast burritos

An overhead shot of a black Staub pan filled with eggs, sausage, beans, and vegetables on a light grey counter.

First, whisk together the eggs, milk, salt, and pepper until combined. Set aside.

Next, heat a pan over medium-high heat and cook your sausage until it’s no longer pink and cooked-through. Drain any fat, and place the sausage in a bowl. Set aside.

Then, add the shredded potatoes and bell peppers to the pan with a little oil, and cook until the potatoes are crispy and the peppers have softened. Add to the bowl with the sausage.

After, pour the egg mixture into the pan, and cook until they are softly scrambled and fluffy. Add the sausage-veggie mixture to the eggs, and then mix in a can of drained black beans. Season with salt and pepper.

An overhead shot of a tortilla filled with eggs, sausage, and veggies and topped with cheese on a white counter.

Next, divide the mixture between eight whole wheat tortillas. Sprinkle each with a little cheese, roll up, and they’re ready to freeze or serve! You can either warm them in the oven if you’re serving burritos to a crowd, or you can pan fry the burritos to get a crispy outside. Even better, use a panini press if you have one!

How to roll a breakfast burrito

A bird's eye shot of a woman's hands rolling a burrito on a marble backdrop.

I’m pretty bad at rolling breakfast burritos, and it’s usually Marc’s job any time we make them. But, it’s actually really easy, and I’m just incompetent apparently. All you have to do is place some filling on your tortilla (try to place it more toward the side you’re rolling up so it’s easy to roll).

Next, fold in the shorter sides to make sure the filling stays in place. Then, take the end of the tortilla closest to you, fold it over, and tuck under the filling a bit to keep everything in place. Roll it up, and place the burritos seam-side down!

Serving make ahead breakfast burritos

We like to eat these burritos with salsa, guacamole, and hot sauce! Greek yogurt or sour cream is great too. If we eat them for breakfast, we usually have a little fresh fruit on the side. Or, if we’re eating them for dinner, we like brown rice and grilled/sauteed veggies!

storing/freezing breakfast burritos

To freeze the burritos, wrap them with beeswax/plastic wrap/tinfoil, and keep them in an airtight container for up to two months. The filling will also last in the fridge for up to one week. If you store the filling in the fridge, I would assemble the burritos right before you eat them, or they will get soggy!

An overhead shot of a white plate with a breakfast burrito on top next to a side of salsa. Next to the burrito is a cup of coffee, hot sauce, and a pink napkin

Reheating frozen make ahead breakfast burritos

To reheat, unwrap the burrito and place it on a microwave-safe plate. Microwave for 3-4 minutes, until they’re warmed through. If the middle won’t warm up all the way, cut the burrito in half and microwave it in 30-second increments until warm!

You can also warm the burritos in an oven at 350°F for about 15-20 minutes.

To take the burritos *up a notch*, heat a skillet with a small amount of neutral cooking oil, and grill the burrito on each side until it’s nice and crispy. If you have a panini press, you can grill burritos that way too!

What other fillings can I use to make breakfast burritos?

These burritos can be made with pretty much anything you have on hand. Try:

  • Bacon, eggs, beans, veggies, + cheese
  • Eggs, sweet potatoes, black beans, veggies, + cheese (vegetarian!)
  • “Scrambled” tofu, vegetables, + beans (vegan!)
An overhead shot of a woman's hand pouring hot sauce on a breakfast burrito over a white marble counter.

Other easy breakfast recipes you might like!

Mini Chilaquiles Verdes with Roasted Tomatillo Salsa
Bacon Hash Skillet with Runny Eggs + Harissa
Croque Madame Galettes with Everything Bagel Crust

Make Ahead Breakfast Burritos



xo Sara Lynn

*Song of the day: Plants by Crumb

Healthy Make Ahead Breakfast Burritos with Eggs & Turkey Sausage
Healthy Freezer Breakfast Burritos