Search icon


15th Mar 2020

Enjoy a taste of the outdoors even when you’re stuck at home with this Mexican Sweet Potato Pie recipe from surfer Finn Ni Fhaolain

Leslie Ann Horgan

Because we all need a giant serving of comfort food today. 

Surfer Finn Ní Fhaoláin is a marine biologist and avid cook from Bundoran. She is also an advocate for Clean Coasts and loves helping people to learn how to live more sustainably.

Finn began her food journey when she was diagnosed coeliac, and went on to write a gluten-free cookbook, Finn’s World. Below, she has shares one of her favourite plant-based recipes with us.

 My Surfers’ Sweet Potato Pie makes a huge portion, enough to last you several days or feed a small army. It’s gluten-free as I’m a coeliac but can also be modified to be vegan. I love to make this on a Sunday so I have it to hand all week as a comforting, nutritious and delicious meal when I get in from a long day on the water.

“I’ve always been intrigued by the Mexican diet and flavours – their staples, like beans, rice and corn make for a perfectly complete plant-based diet. I went to Mexico last year and this dish takes me right back.”

For more recipes from Finn, visit

Mexican Surfers’ Sweet Potato Pie

Serves 5+ hungry humans


5 small sweet potatoes or 2 massive ones

400g tinned mixed beans

400g tinned kidney beans

200g bag frozen veg (e.g. carrot, broccoli and pea mix)

1 red onion

Olive oil, for frying

1 pack Mexican spice mix or your own mix of 1 tbsp sweet paprika (or pimento if you have it), 1 tsp cayenne pepper, 1 tsp coriander seeds (crushed), ½ tsp garlic powder, salt and pepper (careful with the quantities or you will blow your nose clean off)

Cheese of your choice to grate over the top (I like mature cheddar, or a low-fat mozzarella when I’m feeling less bold)


Preheat your oven to 200°C. Put the sweet potatoes on a roasting tray and bung it in the oven. That’s right, skin and all. Let them bake till they’re soft – i.e. when you smack them with the back of a spoon they should be soft and squishy – this usually takes about 30-40 minutes. I used to boil them, but they have a much lovelier flavour when baked.

Drain your tins of beans and rinse them in cold water. Set aside.

If you’re super organised, defrost your frozen veg the night before. If you’re not, sacrilege here, but blast them in the microwave till they defrost.

Finely chop your onion. Heat a frying pan over a medium-high heat. When it’s hot, lash in your olive oil. Test it with a little piece of onion. When it sizzles, lash in the rest of onion. Cook the onions until soft.

Chuck in the spices with the onion and sauté for a few minutes. In go the defrosted veggies and stir-fry for 5 or so minutes. Pop in the beans and cook for a few more minutes. Set to one side while you wait for your sweet potatoes.

When the sweet potatoes are soft, take them out of the oven – but keep the oven on. When they are cool enough to handle, shake them out of their skins into a big bowl. Mash using a potato masher with a little butter, or olive oil if you’re dairy free. Season to taste.

In a baking dish, spread out your veggie and bean mix. Then spoon the mashed sweet potato on top and smooth it over. Top with whatever obscene amount of cheese you like or leave it out for a dairy-free option. Pop back in the oven till the cheese is melted and bubbly, 10-15 minutes.

To serve:

Since this is protein, carbs and fat in one place, the only addition I usually go for is a little sweet chilli sauce on the side. For a vegan option, leave out the cheese and top with a ‘vegan parmesan’ of 1 cup (150g) salted cashews blitzed with 1 tsp garlic powder.