On Getting Out of a Rut [black bean burritos]

Last weekend, I had the biggest epiphany in terms of getting out of this cooking rut in which I am currently wasting away.

black bean quinoa burritos.

(Let the record show that I will not prate on about said rut anymore.)

black bean quinoa burritos.

I turn to blogs and Pinterest for dinner much more often than I turn the physical pages of a cookbook, so I’m always berating myself for not using the collection I’ve amassed over the years.   I’ve thought about cooking my way through one volume in its entirety, though that most certainly has been done, and choosing exactly which volume it would be seems an insurmountable task.

What I decided to do instead is plan my dinners using just one cookbook a week.  We’re entering into the summer months, when I have ample time, so I have no excuse to plug in search terms like “quick and easy” or “30 minute meals.”

I’m not going to set a course for which book I’ll use each week because I want to eat what I want to eat, when I want to eat it.  What I mean is, this isn’t about rules as much as it’s about trying new things.  I also won’t promise a new venture each week because this coming week is packed with the usual spring busy-ness, and I am likely not making anything impressive.  Other weeks are for vacations and family time.  But during the normal weeks, ones in which I sit down and make a calculated list before my grocery trip, my dinners will come from one of my neglected cookbooks.

black bean quinoa burritos.

I started with a bang, The Dinner, a Love Story cookbook.  I’ll blather about my love for this in my next dinner post, but for now, let me tell you that Jenny and Andy pan-fry their burritos.  I made this on a weeknight, and as I read through the recipe, I scoffed at the idea.  Who has time to pan fry burritos?  But as so often happens, I started cooking and felt that ooey-gooey feeling I get when I’m making something that’s going to be amazing, and I decided to go all-in.  I pan fried the burritos.  Holy moly!  Why haven’t I done this before?  It’s the difference between a regular old taco Tuesday and a fiesta in your very own kitchen.

To make black bean and quinoa burritos for 4, you will need:

  • 3 T red wine vinegar
  • 2 T sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced (whoops, I diced mine)
  • 3 T vegetable oil, plus more for frying
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 3 scallions, chopped
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 jalapeno pepper, minced (I used the whole thing, and discarded the ribs and seeds)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 C corn kernels (I used frozen)
  • 6, 8 inch tortillas
  • 2 large handfuls grated cheddar cheese
  • a bunch of cooked quinoa or rice, if you already have it leftover
  • guacamole
  • handful chopped cilantro
  • toppings as you see fit (sour cream, salsa, lime wedges)

Quick-pickle your onions:  Bring vinegar, sugar, 2 C water, and salt to a boil in a small saucepan.  Add onion and simmer, uncovered, about 3 minutes.  Drain.

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat until hot but not smoking.  Add garlic, scallions, cumin, jalapeno pepper, and salt and pepper, and cook, stirring, about 1 minute.  Stir in the beans, mashing them with a fork.  Add another 1/3 C water, and cook, stirring, until most of the liquid is absorbed, about 5 minutes.  Toss in corn, and remove from heat.

Spread bean filling across the middle of each tortilla, leaving some space at both ends.  Add quinoa and guacamole.

Sprinkle each tortilla with cheese, your now quick-pickled onions, and a little cilantro.  Fold the ends of the tortillas over the filling, enclosing filling tightly.  You can do it!  You know you’ve watched the staff at Chipotle do this artfully for years.  Heat more oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.  You want the oil to coat the bottom of the pan in full.  Add 2 burritos at a time, seam side down, and fry until lightly browned on the underside, about 2 minutes.  Turn over and fry until golden, another 2 minutes.  Set fried burritos on a plate lined with paper towels to drain a bit of the excess oil.  Repeat with remaining burritos and serve with desired toppings.


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