Lunchbox – spiced sweet potato and butter bean smash

I have a book called What To Eat by Joanna Blythman. It helps me decide what to eat, funnily enough.

I've been loving - 02.03.18-4.jpg
‘Food that’s good for your health, pocket and plate’

If you asked me where I get the inspiration for my recipes, I’d likely give you an answer that involved this book. It’s like an encyclopaedia of all the best ingredients – featuring notes on where to find them, when they’re in season, what their health benefits are and, most importantly, what they go well with.

It’s a food bible, essentially. And this recipe is thanks to that book.


Sweet potato smash
Sweet potato smash. We’ll get to the word ‘smash’ later

I had a surplus of sweet potatoes in the kitchen (which rarely happens in my flat!) so I looked up the root veg section of the book, found the sentences dedicated to sweet potato and had a read. The book recommends par-boiling and roughly mashing them, before frying with spices and beans and a little liquid.

So that’s what I did.

Sweet potato smash-9
It looked a bit like this. It looked a lot like this. (It’s this)


I chose ground cumin and ground coriander, because there’s something about these earthy curry flavours that make sweet potatoes sing. I whacked a chunk of ginger in there too, because why not?


I chose butter beans, because I LOVE them. And also because I used my last tin of chickpeas in my dinner last night so I wasn’t left with much choice. But still, even if I had a shelf FULL of chickpeas I still reckon I’d have gone with the fat, white, buttery variety.


I didn’t want to add too much liquid if I’m honest – I wanted it to be more of a ‘smash’ than stew. (A smash, in my eyes, in halfway between mash and no mash at all. A rough mash. A light ‘breaking up’. You get the idea). So I went for a tin of chopped tomatoes – a pretty good dose of liquid but not the liquidest of liquids.

Plus some onion and garlic because I can’t cook without them.

Oh and a handful of spinach because I don’t think I can make a meal without greens.

As in it’s actually impossible.

Sweet potato smash-4
Look at those beautiful greens!

Seriously, if you’re one of those experimental cooking types that goes by handfuls as opposed to measurements and only learns what ‘too much chilli’ is by accidentally burning your mouth off that one time, then this book is definitely one to buy. It gives you a handful of brilliant suggestions for most ingredients and sheds a little light on their nutritional value too. And leaves plenty of room for experimenting.

Just buy the book okay? Then make the smash.

To the recipe!


  • 1 sweet potato (300-350g) washed and chopped into large chunks – no need to peel
  • Small white onion, finely diced
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed or grated
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tin butter beans or chickpeas
  • 2 large handfuls of spinach
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp grated ginger (optional)

Fresh coriander to serve


Sauce options

Cumin spiced yoghurt | Raita | Lemon and yoghurt dressing

Vegetarian options

Avocado | Tofu (cooked in with it) | Crumbled feta

Meat and fish options

Grilled chicken breast | Beef steak | Pork chop | Lamb shank | White fish – like cod or monkfish



  1. Par-boil the sweet potatoes for 5-7 minutes, or until softened. Drain and roughly mash them using a potato masher or fork.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large frying pan and, once hot, add the onion. Cook for a few minutes until the onion has started to soften, then add the garlic and spices. Stir to coat the onion in the spices.
  3. Add the smashed potatoes to the frying pan and cook for a couple of minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes and the beans, 2 tbsp water and a good grind of salt. Stir to combine, then cover and simmer for 5-10 minutes.
  4. Finally, add the spinach and heat until it’s wilted. Serve with a dollop of yoghurt and some fresh coriander.

Samantha x

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