Southwest Sweet Potato Tater Tot Hotdish

How to love yourself in November: put sautéed garlic, poblanos, mushrooms, peppers, black beans, and corn in a skillet with a cheesy queso-fundido base and top with a layer of sweet potato tater tots. Me, blanket, sweatpants, this skillet.

It’s called a Southwest Sweet Potato Tater Tot Hotdish.

Oh, yes. You heard me correctly.

This is everything we love about Tex-Mex food meeting up with our meatless goals and taking the shape and form of a beloved comfort food of Minnesota winter: the tater tot hotdish. But made new.

I grew up eating the occasional non-ironic tater tot hotdish (#proud), so I feel justified to give you the 411 on this staple midwestern casserole: tater tot hotdish usually has a ground beef and veggie mixture, made with some gravy (and by gravy I mean likely a can of condensed soup) and is topped with tater tots and ketchup. I know I know I KNOW, but for surely you need ketchup if you want to eat your tater tot hotdish like a true midwesterner.

Tater tot hotdish is one of those foods that actually so strange and borderline gross that somewhere along the way it becomes, in fact, really really good. I do not know how this works, but I embrace it.

Today, though? Tots be getting a modern makeover.

We’re swapping the ground beef for meaty portabella mushrooms, and trading peas and carrots for the spicy crunch of poblanos and bell peppers and corn. The gravy is getting replaced by a pepperjacky-queso-esque situation that is every bit as magical as you might image, and those sweet potato tots? YASSSS. Just the right amount of salty-sweetness to offset the heat.

Important things to consider: Will you swish Tabasco over the top? Sprinkle with more cheese? Decorate with colorful herbs and fresh jalapeños? These things that are up to you, my friend.

One of the keys to this recipe is the cast iron pan, which is why we use (and love) Lodge cast iron for all our heavy-duty, stovetop-to-oven recipes.

I’ve had a love affair with the enameled Dutch oven for as long as I can remember (um, how about that one time I wrote a post called 10 EASY RECIPES YOU CAN MAKE IN A DUTCH OVEN). Now might be a good time to mention that these make EXCELLENT Christmas gifts for the foodies in your life. One in every color? I’m not opposed.

It also is worth mentioning that the true cast iron star here is the standard 10.25-inch cast iron skillet – we got this as a wedding gift seven years ago, and while it took me an embarrassingly long time to get over my fears of cast iron usage and maintenance (which were all just completely in my head), now that I’ve found my stride with it, I am totally hooked. For people who are trying to clean-and-green their home life a little bit, this is an amazing natural alternative to nonstick. Plus, like the Dutch oven, it’s versatile enough to go in the oven. Boom! No more worrying about plastic pan handles melting off.

I have two rules for cleaning my beloved cast iron skillet:

Rinse and dry.
(If you’re ambitious) Rub with an oil-soaked paper towel.
The end. Nothing fancy. Natural nonstick and affordable high quality cookware is WITHIN REACH for the normals!