So last night we had burritos. Unfortunately, since I was being a lazy ass, I didn’t end up taking any photos. But these adorable kittens in a sombrero should make up for that. I mean, seriously. Just look at them! Anyway, my veggie burrito recipe is always a big hit with people. Especially in Germany, where it is hard to find Mexican food that doesn’t somehow taste Greek. Obviously, I am not Mexican. However, I did grow up on the West Coast, and so I consider myself an authentic burrito eating expert (along with all sorts of other awesome things, like enchiladas, mole, quesadillas, guacamole, raw butter- wait…. um…. never mind). So while this recipe is not exactly Mexican, I can assure you that the flavor profile is.
For those of you living in Frankfurt Germany, if you can’t find some of the ingredients at your local supermarkt, I highly suggest going to the Kleinmarkthalle, because there is a vendor there who sells real Mexican food and spice staples. You can also get real jalapeños and jicama there. Sadly I have yet to come across queso fresco anywhere, so I use a mix of sharp aged cheddar and mozzarella. You can use Colby-Jack cheese if you want, or any combination that appeals to you, but if you have access to queso fresco, I suggest you splurge. Just don’t tell me, because I will be jealous and hate you.
One of the problems people have with vegetarian food in general is the absence of meatiness. This recipe takes care of that, I promise. There is no reason in the world that vegetarian food should be synonymous with “devoid of flavor.” Developing depth in savory foods is simply a matter of spice, time, and Love. This recipe has several components. For instance, if you don’t have time to make your own tortillas, just skip that part. Also, you can use the tortillas for delicious wraps.
On the subject of rice: now some people like rice in their burritos. I am not one of those people, namely because the rice serves as a sort of flavor neutralizer and makes everything a bit more bland. Our society is currently obsessed with the protein myth. Some people think vegetarians need to combine foods like rice and beans to form a “whole protein.” While it may form a complete protein, the fact is that we as a culture are taking in far more protein on average than we actually need, even the athletes among us. The first question I am always asked about when I say I am a vegetarian is “what do you do for protein?” Protein is all over the place, many legumes and grains are high in protein, as well as eggs, dairy products, and soy products. I’m just saying that if you don’t add rice to your beans, you will absolutely not wither away and die. And your burrito will be a little more awesome. But if you really want it, knock yourself out.
MEGAN’S TOTALLY AMAZING VEGGIE BURRITOS
(see bottom of page for diet alterations)
For the Tortillas:
- 2 1/2 cups flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/3 cup of vegetable shortening
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1 cup very hot water (as hot as you can physically stand. Also you may use slightly less water than this, so don’t add it all at once.)
For the filling:
- 1 can of pinto, kidney, or black beans (pintos are the best, but I can’t find them in Germany)
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
- salt to taste
- 20 grinds from a fresh black pepper mill (or 1/2 tsp pepper)
- 1/4 tsp granulated garlic or garlic powder (if you want to use real garlic, go ahead, it just makes me ill 😦 )
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- ground chipotle to taste, or chipotle sauce if you happen to have it
- 1 large tomato, diced
- 1 bell pepper, diced
- 20 sprays of Liquid Smoke (of you don’t have Liquid Smoke, you MUST buy some. It is a key to making Western vegetarian cooking meaty and satisfying.)
- 1 tbs oregano
- 1/2 tbs dried parsley
- a few sprigs of chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 tbs olive oil
- Optional: veggie ground round or fake beef (meat eaters are often totally convinced by this stuff!)
For the Sides:
- 1 cup+ Grated cheese (queso fresco preferably, but Colby-Jack, cheddar, or mozzarella will do.)
- 1 cup Shredded iceberg lettuce
- 1/2 cup Fresh chopped cilantro
- 1 avocado, sliced (or my fabulous guacamole recipe, link to recipe at the bottom of page*)
- 1 cup+ crème fraîche, or sour cream
- any hot sauces you like, or salsas if you like salsas (I don’t use them because I am allergic to onions)
- You can garnish with plain black olives if you’d like, but it is hard to find olives in Germany that don’t taste Mediterranean.
- Suggested Music: Johnny Cash “Ring of Fire”
OKAY! So first off, for the tortillas, put the dry ingredients into a mixing bowl. Use a pastry cutter to mix in the shortening, or if you don’t have one (but really you need to have one, put it on your birthday wish list) you can use a fork, which is a total bummer, so just buy the damn pastry cutter already (mine was 6 bucks on Amazon). Cut it in until it looks kinda like bread crumbs. Little by little, add hot water, until your dough can be formed into a nice kneadable ball. Only add as much as you need. When you have your ball, put a tiny bit of flour on your very clean countertop, and knead it until it is nice and smooth. Then separate it into little balls, you should have around 8-12 depending on how big you make them. Put the dough balls onto a plate or a large bowl, and cover with a slightly damp towel, and let them hang out for 30 minutes.
After they’ve had their little party, put another teeny tiny bit of flour on the clean counter, and use your trusty rolling pin to roll out large tortilla sized discs. Roll them a bit on one side, then flip and roll on the other, remember to add a little flour if you need it. Don’t use too much flour on the counter top, or the tortillas will be too dry. Heat up your lightly oiled biggest pan or griddle on medium-high. The tortilla will begin to brown a little after a minute, then flip and let it brown on the other side. When cute little bubbles form and it puffs up, it should be done. Set it aside on a plate covered in the damp towel, and make the rest of the tortillas. Once they are all done and cooled off, you can keep them in a plastic bag in the fridge. To heat them up again for your dinner, you can put them in one of those styrofoam tortilla warmers in the oven on a low setting, about 210F or 100C. If you don’t have one, wrap them all in a few paper towels, so it looks like a little tortilla book, and sprinkle water on each side of the paper towels, then place on a plate in the warm oven for 5-10 minutes. Or you could heat them in the pan. You’ll figure it out! Just do them last, so they are fresh and don’t dry out.
So then, the filling and sides are super duper easy. Just add the beans (with the liquid) into a medium pot, over medium heat. Add everything else, and the first 10 sprays of Liquid Smoke. If you have any tomato paste, you can add a little if you feel like it. Let it all simmer until it is nice and hot, and the flavors are to your liking. If you have people in your household who like different levels of spiciness, I highly recommend investing in a hot chili grinder. It is just like a pepper mill, but for chilis. That way, my fiancé can make his food as spicy as he wants. In the meantime, prepare your sides in nice little bowls. You might even have time to dance around your kitchen a little bit, which is always especially fun if you have a cute apron and a wooden spoon. Lastly, spray the last 10 sprays of Liquid Smoke right before you serve dinner. If you only have enough beans for the current meal, pour them into a strainer to remove the liquid, then serve. If you have more than enough, keep the liquid for later and just serve with a slotted spoon.
Finally, eat your burritos! I always put the cheese on the bottom of the tortilla, then the hot beans over it, so that it is nice and melty. Also, learn how to properly fold your burritos on the bottom so you don’t make a mess. Or be a slob, whatever. Last night, I was totally a slob. That is how you know he is The One- when you have burrito goo dripping down your chin and into your lap, he lovingly hands you a paper towel.
Use large pieces of iceberg lettuce instead of tortillas. Cut out the olive oil, and use lowfat mozzarella or Daiya cheese if you are vegan. Top with plain lowfat yogurt. If you are really cutting back, you can ditch the avocados, but remember, some healthy fats are necessary to sustain life.
I have inflammation issues, so if you are on an anti-inflammatory diet, add a tsp of flaxseed oil to your beans.