Build a Better Burrito: Black Bean, Kale and Yam


My first “Build a Better Burrito” post was more for meat eaters and focused on Alton Brown’s Taco Potion #19. This time around, I’m doing a vegetarian burrito — starring home-cooked black beans.

I was a hold out on dried beans for a really long time. At New Year’s, I’d make red beans and rice (yeah, I know it’s technically supposed to be black-eyed peas), but I never just made beans on the regular to have them ready to go. And then, I made this pot of black beans and a light finally flicked on in my head. It took a little time, but they tasted better, cost a fraction of the canned version and froze well. I’d heard all that before, but like I said, a light flicked on.

Now, this burrito is a lot faster to make if you’ve already got the cooked black beans in your freezer. So maybe set aside some time on a weekend to make some beans and then have these later in the week. The trick on the beans is to do your own sort of refrieds and be generous with the cumin. It makes all the difference. You’ll be licking them off the spoon!

The rest of it is pretty straight-forward — some roasted garnet yams, just olive oil, salt and pepper, done in the oven at 375 for 30 minutes, and sauteed kale with a little onion and garlic. I have no illusions about this being an authentic burrito, it’s just a surprisingly tasty fall combo tucked into a flour tortilla. The lead photo is topped with tomatillo salsa, but the choice is yours.

Black Bean, Kale & Yam Burrito

Print Recipe


  • Refried Black Beans
  • 1/2 a batch black beans, from this NY Times recipe (about 1/2 lb. of beans)
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1-2 T. ground cumin
  • Salt & black pepper
  • Roasted Garnet Yams
  • 2 medium garnet yams, diced in 1/2 in. pieces
  • olive oil to coat
  • salt & pepper
  • Simple Sauteed Kale
  • 1 bunch lacinato kale, washed and chopped into 1 in. ribbons
  • 2 t. olive oil
  • 1/4 of a medium onion, cut into 1/4 in. half moons
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1/4 c. chicken stock



Roasted Garnet Yams:


Preheat the oven to 350F. Coat the yam cubes in olive oil and spread in an even layer on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 15 minutes, then turn the yams over with a spatula. Bake for 15 more minutes until yams are softened.


Simple Sauteed Kale:


Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil. Add onion and cook until translucent. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add in kale and chicken stock, turning to help wilt the kale evenly. Cover, reduce heat to medium low and steam until kale is softened, about 5-7 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.


Flour tortillas


Shredded white cheddar & salsa or hot sauce to serve


Warm the tortillas, sweeping them over a gas flame until charred to your liking. Add ~1/4 c. beans to the center of the tortilla and top with cheese, vegetables, and salsa. Fold and you’re ready to go.

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