Tag Archives: beans

The Art of a Homemade Veggie Burrito

A few years back, my husband wrote an article for the local paper, rating various taco trucks and hole in the wall taquerias around the Rogue Valley. Being a vegetarian, his firsthand experience was strictly set on the veggie burrito at each of these locations. Since this article was written before I ever met my husband, I’ve lucked out and have spent the last five and a half years simply eating already tested, tried, highly rated burritos. That said, when we’re traveling and come across a new taqueria or taco truck, it’s a gambling game. One we both enjoy playing!

If you’re in the Rogue Valley looking for a good veggie burrito, my top three favorites are the Tacos Michoacan food truck in Talent, Tacopancho truck in Medford, and Los Arcos also in Medford. All three locations can be called ahead of time, then picked up for take-out.

But honestly, who can afford to eat out (even from a taco truck) every single day? We love burritos in this house. Seven-year-old Silas brought home a worksheet from his second grade class the other day called “Getting to Know You.” When I looked through his responses, “favorite food” simply stated “BRETO.” If you’ve got any hesitation about what that means, that would be bree-toe, as in burrito. Ask the boy what he wants for dinner and it’s often a toss up of burritos, tuna melts, or pizza.

What I’ve learned is there’s an art to making homemade veggie burritos. The really good ones are all about how the ingredients blend together once they’re wrapped up. If each individual ingredient is tasty on its own, you’re halfway there. My favorite veggie burritos contain beans, rice, cheese, salsa, sour cream (or crema), and avocado. Occasionally it’ll also have one or all of the following: cilantro, chopped tomatoes, lettuce. Let’s break it down by ingredient:

Beans: You can opt for pinto or black, refried or whole. I prefer homemade beans, as it’s another way to impart flavor into the final product. Plus dried beans are cheap and easy to make. Canned beans can be used too, though. Even then I like to drain off the liquid, rinse the beans, and reheat them in vegetable broth laden with fresh herbs and garlic.

Rice: I use long grain white rice. Typically, I’ll sauté 1 cup of rice in 1 tablespoon of oil until it’s toasty and lightly browned. At that point, I’ll add some cumin, coriander, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and oregano. Then I’ll add 2-3 tablespoons of tomato sauce, along with 2 cups No-Chicken broth, then cover and cook the rice until it’s tender (20 or so minutes).

Cheese: One thing I’ve found is that blending a few different kinds of cheeses gives me a variety of taste and consistency. I like to use sharp cheddar for flavor, mozzarella for stickiness and holding things together, and some monterey jack for both of the above reasons.

Salsa: There is so much variety here. You can go for fresh salsa, homemade salsa, chunky salsas, smoother blended versions… The spiciness is entirely up to your preference. I recently discovered Frontera gourmet salsas in our grocery store. Having tried various flavors, my favorites are the chipotle (with roasted tomatillos and garlic), the tomatillo salsa (with roasted serrano chiles and cilantro), the double roasted tomato salsa (with roasted onion and jalapeno), and the guajillo salsa.

Sour cream: This element works so well with the salsa in the final wrapped up burrito. Placed in the right spot, you end up with a creamy, spicy, saucy burrito. It’s magic. More or less. I like light versions, whole fat versions… whatever tickles your fancy.

Avocado: Also creamy and delicious, avocado blends so nicely with everything else in a good veggie burrito!

Cilantro, chopped tomatoes, lettuce: All three of these I say use with caution. You don’t want too much of any of ‘em, but a little of each creates a nice flavor and texture. If you prefer, you can leave all three off of your burrito and you won’t regret it, either! I know that doesn’t sound very helpful, but merely go with what sounds delicious to you!

The tortilla: We recently discovered Don Pancho Homestyle tortillas and I may have dropped the F-bomb in overzealous excitement right in the middle of the grocery store. Around here, often the largest flour tortillas I can find are 10-inches. These Don Pancho tortillas were 14-inches in diameter! That makes for a potentially large burrito! If you can only find 10 or 12 inch wheat or flour tortillas, they’ll work – you’ll just have to stuff them with less filling.

Putting it all together: I like to heat a cast iron griddle to very hot, then place a tortilla on it for about 30 seconds, flip the tortilla, then sprinkle a very generous amount of cheese on the tortilla, leaving about 2-3 inches around the perimeter of the tortilla. Once the cheese has begun to melt, remove from the griddle either to a plate or a large piece of foil. Spoon a generous amount of rice in the center of the tortilla, in a line, again leaving about 3 inches all the way around the tortilla. Spoon a generous amount of beans over the rice, again in a line. Next comes the sour cream and salsa, be generous and place it right on top of the beans. Place your avocado on top of the sour cream and salsa. I like to add another light sprinkling of cheese next, but that isn’t necessary. Add the cilantro, chopped tomatoes, and lettuce if you’re using them.

Turn the tortilla so the line of ingredients is running parallel to you. Fold in the right side of the tortilla, just over the ingredients. Fold in the left side of the tortilla. Now fold the bottom of the tortilla up, over the ingredients and the tucked-in right and left sides. Keep rolling, tightly. Wrap in foil for easier handling, or simply go for it!

Vegetarian Red Beans and Rice

A couple summers ago, Craig and I met up with his dad and stepmother in Atlanta, Georgia. From there we traveled through Alabama and Mississippi, into Louisiana, en route to Texas, before Craig and I headed back to Oregon. Not only was it fun to trek across the South and see some new places, but the food was often delicious, too.

In Alabama, we stopped at Golden Rule BBQ, where Craig’s dad insisted I get the smoked beef brisket. I remember it being tender and tasty, although I’m not generally big on beef. In Vicksburg, Mississippi, we ate at Rusty’s Riverfront Grill and had an AMAZING dinner. Our forty minute wait to be seated was made okay by ordering a round of delicious top shelf margaritas and fried green tomatoes topped with hollandaise sauce and lump crab as an appetizer. Then I ordered Rusty’s House Specialty: blackened redfish topped with a crawfish cream sauce. Phenomenal. Craig ordered an oyster po’boy, which he said was delicious, although oysters are on my list of foods never again wanting to be consumed. Mimi ordered a cajun shrimp pasta dish and Pops got the filet mignon, which was also topped with a lump crab cream sauce.

When we got to Natchitoches, Louisiana, Lasyone’s was a must for their famous meat pies (crawfish pies for Craig). We got there right at lunch time and I ordered a meat pie, a half-order of their notable red beans and rice without sausage, as well as a half order of dirty rice. Although I had various bowls of beans and rice before, there was always more to them: sour cream, cheese, salsa, etc. I think I was almost expecting something similar. Then my plate came out–a bed of white rice topped with dark red beans and a decent amount of sauce. No frills, nothing fancy. It was delicious.

I’ve made red beans and rice numerous times since returning to the west coast. The first time, I thought I did something wrong, because my pot of beans was very soupy-looking. Louisiana-born Craig reassured me that this is what a pot of red beans is supposed to look like: the soupy stuff is not to be feared! I’ve made versions that include vegetarian ground sausage (like ground beef) as well as rounds of sausage. I’d like to make my own veggie sausage sometime, specifically for these red beans–something smoky and spicy. I haven’t found a pre-made product that quite fits. Field Roast‘s Mexican Chipotle is close, but not quite what I’m aiming for. In the meantime, Tofurky works okay, too. This pot of beans is somewhat spicy–serve untraditionally with sour cream if you’d like. :)

Vegetarian Red Beans and Rice

Ingredients:

1½ lbs. (3 cups) dried small red beans
enough water to cover beans by 3-4 inches
2 tbsp. olive oil
1- 14oz. pkg. Tofurky Kielbasa or your preferred veggie sausage, cut into ¼-inch rounds
1 large onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 stalks celery, diced
2 bay leaves
¼ tsp. dried sage
½ tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. dried oregano
3 tsp. sea salt
1 tbsp. smoked paprika
1 tbsp. Cajun seasoning (I like “Slap Ya Mama” blend)
2 tsp. vegan Worcestershire sauce (Annie’s is tasty)
8 cups water

2 cups long grain white rice (or Basmati rice)
4 cups water
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. butter
¼ tsp. sea salt

*optional ingredients:
1 tbsp. honey
1 lemon, halved with seeds removed and skin intact
1 tsp. sugar

Directions:

Soak the beans overnight in a large pot enough water to cover them by 3-4 inches. Drain and rinse.

In a skillet heat 1 tbsp. of olive oil over medium high-heat and cook the Tofurky sausage until it’s well browned on both sides (10-15 minutes). Set aside.

In a large pot, heat 1 tbsp. of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté until translucent. Add the bell pepper, garlic, and celery. Stir to combine then cook until the peppers and celery are tender (10-15 minutes). Add in the bay leaves, sage, cayenne, thyme, oregano, salt, paprika, Cajun seasoning, and Worcestershire sauce. Stir well to combine all the ingredients and allow them to cook for a minute or two.

Add the sautéed sausage. Pour in the 8 cups of water and stir all the ingredients well. Cover, reduce heat to low. Cook for 3-4 hours, until the beans are very tender.

*After an hour of cooking, taste the sauce the beans are cooking in. If it’s too spicy for your liking add in the honey or sugar. Stir well. You can also add the halved lemon (it’ll absorb some of the spiciness–simply discard before serving).

45 minutes before serving heat the remaining 1 tbsp. of olive oil over medium-high heat, in a large skillet (with lid). Dump in the 2 cups of rice and stir to coat the grains in oil. Stirring frequently, toast the rice until it’s light brown and toasty-smelling. Stir in the butter and salt. Once the butter is completely melted, add the 4 cups of water. Stir, then cover your pot and reduce heat to low. Cook for 30 minutes. Do not remove the lid during this time! After 30 minutes check that the water has been completely absorbed (if it hasn’t, return cover and cook for another 5-10 minutes), then turn off the heat and gently fluff the rice before re-covering for 5 minutes.

Serve the beans over a bed of rice while everything is still hot. Enjoy!

Creamy Curried Split Pea Soup

Cold, wet, winter days simply ask for soup. A few weeks ago, I bought green split peas in bulk. A total brain fart. I thought I was getting lentils. I’ve got to admit though–prior to tonight I never cooked a split pea or lentil in my life. So I figure, if I’ve got ’em in the pantry, I may as well make something with ’em. Something tasty. Curry was my first thought. Then soup, my second. Curried soup? Even better (for today, anyway).

I didn’t leave the house today. Usually I don’t handle that too well. I go stir-crazy quickly. Even if going “out” means a walk to the grocery store, or time working in the yard, or simply time sitting on our porch. But for some reason, it felt okay today. I spent a good portion of time looking at food blogs, researching new recipes, writing. I also decided lazy indoor days are good for cooking. So I made this soup. In the midst of making soup, I broke up a dog fight in our kitchen and did some laundry. Multi-tasking, dontchaknow. I also made some homemade haupia for dessert–more on that tomorrow. And some stove-top grilled garlic butter flatbread.

This soup was spicier than I anticipated. If you want it a little milder, leave out the red chili pepper flakes completely. Or add them in when you add the broth. I’d definitely make this again…

 

Creamy Curried Split Pea Soup

Ingredients:

3 tbsp. unrefined coconut oil
1 cup chopped red onion
5 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 tsp. finely grated fresh ginger
¼ tsp. red chili pepper flakes
2 small carrots, cut into rounds (about 1 cup)
2 small potatoes, peeled and cubed (about 1½ cups)
1 stalk celery, finely diced
2 tbsp. finely diced sweet peppers
1 cup green or yellow split peas
1 cup green beans (frozen is okay, no need to defrost)
¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
2 tbsp. curry powder
1 tbsp. ground tumeric
1 tsp. whole cumin seeds
3½ cups vegetable broth
¼ cup coconut milk
1 tbsp. fresh lime juice
salt and pepper, to taste

 

Directions:

Melt the coconut oil in a large pot, over medium-low heat. (Unrefined coconut oil has a lower smoke point than olive or canola oil, so be sure it doesn’t burn.) Add the onion, garlic, ginger, and red chili pepper flakes, cooking until the onion becomes translucent. Add the carrots, celery, sweet peppers, and potatoes to the pot. Stir to combine all the ingredients and allow the mixture to cook until the carrots begin to slightly soften up (10 minutes or so).

Add in the split peas, green beans, and cilantro. Add the curry powder, tumeric, and cumin seeds. Add in the vegetable broth, coconut milk, and lime juice. Stir the ingredients well and cover the pot. Cook, covered, for 1 hour. Periodically stir the ingredients to make sure they don’t stick to the bottom of your pot.

Add salt and pepper to your liking, then serve with flat bread or your favorite crusty bread.

 

 

Everything But the What? Hearty Vegetable Soup

The last few days have been gray, rainy, cold, and overall — my favorite type of January Northwest weather. I don’t think I’ll ever grow old of enjoying rain pouring down the streets, wind knocking at the front door, or the cold that invites you to bundle up. Although I’m from Kauai, I think I’ve acclimated to “real” winters quite well. This weather has been perfect for a giant pot of soup on the stove.

I’m not one to get excited about soup. Really. It’s one of various dishes I just can’t think too much about, because ultimately I enjoy eating soup, but rarely does it strike me as appetizing-sounding. This particular soup is more or less a pot of miscellany. You can add other vegetables if you please, or leave some out for that matter. Or add some pasta. Or follow these directions exactly. (More or less, do whatever the hell you want when it comes to making this soup! I don’t think you could mess it up — too terribly…)

Hearty Vegetable Soup

Ingredients:

2 – 3 tbsp. olive oil
1 cup onion, diced
6 cloves garlic, chopped roughly
1 ½ cups diced yellow bell pepper
½ cup diced celery
2 cups diced zucchini
3 cups diced red potatoes, skins left intact
2 cups carrots, peeled and cut into thin rounds
2 cups cooked beans (pinto, black, cannellini, etc.)
1 cup cut green beans
1 tbsp. diced jalapeño (seeds and veins removed if you want it less spicy)
1- 28 oz. can diced tomatoes (I prefer Muir Glen fire-roasted tomatoes)
1 tsp. fresh rosemary, chopped
2 dried bay leaves
½ tsp. ground coriander
½ tsp. dried thyme
8 cups vegetable broth
½ cup red wine (optional)
salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

In a large stock pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add in the onions and garlic. Stir and then cook until the onions are translucent.

Add the bell pepper, celery, zucchini, red potatoes, carrots, beans (cooked and green), jalapeño, and tomatoes to the pot.

Stir, then sprinkle in the rosemary, bay leaves, coriander, and thyme. Add all of the vegetable broth (and wine, if using) at once, salt, and pepper, then give all the ingredients a good stir. Cover the pot and reduce heat to low. Allow the soup to cook on low heat for 1 – 2 hours, more if you want. Taste, then add more salt and pepper if needed. Serve hot.

Happy Halloween

We had a Halloween kids party for 6 year old Silas’s classmates… I attempted to plan some easy foods that would work for the youngins and parents… The spread included:  creepishly realistic strawberry & cream jello worms, peanut butter cup cookies, white chocolate macadamia nut cookies, shrunken head warm cider, black widow black bean hummus with multi-grain pita chips, baby carrots, black olives, and celery sticks, and veggie mummy dogs. Oh, and a cauldron of miscellaneous bad for you but oh so delicious Halloween candy… All of the food went over well with the kids and adults — much to my surprise and relief!