Burrito Bowl

One of my favorite meals to order on the go is a burrito bowl– you know, where they pile on the rice, beans, guacamole and salsa and all other goodies into a single container and you can dig in without any fuss. But as much as I love eating stuff I don’t have to cook myself, I love eating the stuff I make at home more because — for one– I know exactly what’s going into it, and besides, I can make it healthier. And yes, even a vegan burrito bowl bought at a restaurant, however healthy, can be healthier.

The great thing about a burrito bowl is, there’s no one way to do it. You can add in all your favorites and leave out anything that doesn’t appeal to you. I usually order mine with rice, beans, guacamole and some lettuce and it’s just perfect.

For my homemade burrito bowl, I made yellow rice using brown rice instead of white– a great way to add healthy fiber without compromising taste. I then smothered it with some creamy refried black beans spiced with smoky chipotle chilis in adobo sauce. Because in Mexico they often stir cheese into the refried beans at the end, I substituted with a vegan powerhouse that makes a great cheese AND salt substitute– miso. You can leave it out but it adds great flavor.

On top of all this goodness I spooned some bright-green, chunky guacamole. And then I covered it all with strips of lettuce.

Bliss in a bowl.

You can, of course, tweak it to your taste. Some tomato salsa would be incredible here, or you might even add some mango salsa for a truly special touch.

Here go the recipes. Enjoy the weekend, all!
Burrito Bowl

(Makes 6 servings)

Yellow Rice

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups brown rice (I used long-grain Basmati)

3 1/2 cups water

1 tsp cumin seeds

2 jalapeno chilies, cut into rings (remove the seeds and white ribs if you want to tone down the heat)

1 onion, thinly sliced

1/2 tsp turmeric

1 tbsp canola or other vegetable oil

Salt to taste

Heat the oil. Add the cumin seeds and, when they sputter, add the onions.

Cook the onions over medium heat about 10 minutes until they caramelize. Don’t hurry through this step because you really want the flavors to develop.

Add the jalapeno rounds and stir in. Now add the turmeric and salt and mix.

Add the rice and stir to coat with the oil and spices and until it starts to turn opaque, which will take no more than 1 to 2 minutes.

Add the water, bring it to a boil, then turn the heat down and simmer on a low flame for 45 minutes or until the water is completely absorbed and the rice is cooked.

Allow the rice to stand, covered, for at least 10-15 more minutes before serving.
Refried Black Beans

Ingredients:

1 cup black beans, soaked overnight or at least 4-5 hours, then cooked with enough water until tender. Reserve about 2 cups of the cooking liquid. (If using canned, use 2 cups of black beans and the water they were canned in)

1 tbsp canola or other vegetable oil

1 chipotle chili in adobo sauce, chopped fine, with 1 tsp of the sauce

1 red onion, minced

5 cloves garlic, minced

2 tbsp shiro miso (white miso), or, if you’d rather not use this, salt to taste

Coriander for garnish

Heat the oil. Add the onions and saute until golden-brown, about 10 minutes.

Add the garlic and chipotle chili. Stir together for a minute.

Add the beans and the water. Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and allow it to simmer. Mash the beans with a potato masher or a ladle. I like to mash some but not all to get a great texture.

You want to turn off the heat when the beans are still a little soupy because they will thicken further as they stand. Just a minute or so before turning off the heat, add the miso and stir in. Add salt only if you need it.

Garnish with coriander.

Guacamole

Ingredients:

2 perfectly ripe avocados, cut into a small dice

1/2 small red onion, minced

1 tsp garlic powder or 3 cloves of garlic, minced

1 jalapeno pepper, minced (remove seeds and ribs if you aren’t hot about the heat)

Salt to taste

1 tbsp lemon juice

2 tbsp chopped coriander leaves

Place all the ingredients in a bowl and mix with a spoon, mashing the avocado as you go. I like the avocado chunky but you can really mash it down if you like.

To put together the burrito bowl:

Chop some lettuce into fine strips.

In a bowl, place 3/4 cup of the yellow rice.

Make a dent in the center with a ladle, then spoon in about 1/2 cup of the refried beans

Top with 1/4 cup of the guacamole and as much lettuce as you like.

Desi loves to add a tablespoon of vegan sour cream to this (I use Tofutti), but I love it just the way it is.

Eat up!

For more great Mexican recipes from many creative cooks, visit It’s A Vegan World’s Mexican edition.

(C) All recipes and photographs copyright of Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes.

Vegan Mexican: The Roundup



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Mushroom and Green Pepper Quesadillas With Mango Salsa


This is going to be one of the shortest posts you’ll ever see from me, because it’s close to 11 pm and I want to get these recipes up before the midnight deadline for It’s A Vegan World: Mexican.

I bought masa flour to make tortillas this month so I could make my quesadillas from scratch, but I finally only got around to making them today because I’ve just not had the time. I didn’t have a tortilla press though, and while shaping the tortillas with a rolling pin wasn’t too hard, they tended to break up on me when I transferred them to the griddle. They tasted great, but you might as well spare yourself the trouble and buy store-bought tortillas. In case you’d still like some adventure, though, or have a tortilla press, go ahead!

The roundup of IAVW Mexican will be up shortly. Meanwhile, don’t forget to check out next month’s It’s A Vegan World event which will be hosted by the lovely Priya of the lovely blog, Akshayapaatram.

Adios everyone, and enjoy!
Mushroom and Green Pepper Quesadillas with Mango Salsa

For the mushroom and green pepper filling:
1 cup sliced button mushrooms (use crimini for more flavor)

1 medium green pepper, thinly sliced

1/2 red onion, thinly sliced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 jalapeno pepper or any other green chili, minced

1 tbsp canola oil or other vegetable oil

Salt and pepper to taste

1/4 cup chopped coriander (cilantro) leaves

Heat the oil in a skillet.

Add the onions and stir. When they start to brown, add the garlic

Stir for a minute, then add the green peppers and mushrooms.

Saute until the vegetables are cooked. Add the pepper and salt to taste.

Turn off the heat and stir in the coriander. Reserve.

For the tortillas:

2 cups masa flour

Warm water

Place the masa flour in a bowl and add warm water, a little at a time, while mixing with a spatula until a fairly smooth dough forms. Divide into 1 1/2-inch balls. Set aside.

Heat a griddle.

If you have a tortilla press, just follow the instructions to shape the tortilla. If you don’t, like me, I sprinkled enough all-purpose flour on my countertop to ensure the dough wouldn’t stick, and carefully rolled out the tortillas to about 6 inches in diameter.

Carefully, very carefully, transfer the tortilla to the hot griddle. Flip over when it starts bubbling up and brown spots appear on the underside. Cook the other side.

To form the quesadillas, heat the griddle and spread 1 tsp canola or other vegetable oil on it.

Now place one tortilla on the griddle, then spread out the mushroom-green-pepper filling on it.

Place another tortilla on top. I also added some guacamole, made with nothing more than avocados, red onions, lemon, garlic powder and salt, to the filling.

When the underside is golden and crispy, flip the quesadilla carefully and cook until the other side is golden and crispy.

Remove to a plate and cut into wedges with a sharp knife or pizza cutter.

Enjoy!

Mango Salsa

Ingredients:

1 ripe mango, flesh scooped out and cut into a small dice

1/4 red onion, finely diced

1 serrano pepper or other green chili pepper, minced

A pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)

1 tsp lemon juice

2 tbsp chopped coriander leaves

Mix together all the ingredients and serve with the quesadillas.

(C) All recipes and photographs copyright of Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes.

Mexican Rice and Chili-Garlic Potatoes

It’s Spring, and today’s a beautiful day out here in my corner of the world. The sun’s shining, the birds are singing, the squirrels are frolicking…you get the picture?

Of course, not all’s right with the world. Here we are, neck-deep and in some cases over our heads in a recession that’s bordering on a depression. The news makes you want to scream– unemployment, poverty, growing numbers of homeless people…how did this happen in the world’s most prosperous country?

Of course, all of this is accompanied by well-coiffured, well-dressed and — not to forget– well-off television news show hosts advising you relentlessly on penny-pinching tactics. Give up that morning latte, clip coupons, shop the sales… Duh!

Well, I have one for you, and this one’s actually good: go vegan!

Cutting out meat from your diet is a great way to cut down on grocery bills. All that animal cruelty and suffering comes at a price– not just to the poor animals, but to you too. Staples of vegetarian diets like rice, beans and vegetables are far cheaper than meat. Plus, you can grow at least some of your own veggies if you have even a tiny piece of land or even a sunny window. On the other hand, try growing a cow at home!

And you just can’t beat the tradeoff: you get to be much healthier while saving your money. Some of you might have read about this study in the papers this week that said red meat increases your chances of dying early. So why not just eat your veggies and let everyone– animals included– live longer?

Unless you are still in the dark ages, you have to know that vegan diets are not just about soy and tofu. In fact, vegans tend to naturally veer toward interesting and unusual foods because their world is not limited to hamburgers and steaks.

And now here’s a perfect recipe to illustrate that. Mexican Rice with Stir-Fried Potatoes. Serve this up, and you’ll really want to go vegan. This one is great on its own, with a salad, with a spicy curry, or even rolled up in a burrito with some refried beans.

Enjoy, all!

Mexican Rice (Arroz a la Mexicana)

Ingredients:

1 cup long-grain rice like Basmati

1 large tomato, sliced into quarters, drizzled with some salt, pepper and olive oil and roasted in a 400-degree oven for about 25-30 minutes. After the tomato cools, puree it in a blender or food processor, juices and all.

1 tbsp canola or other vegetable oil

1 onion, sliced thinly

1 bunch scallions/spring onions, both green and white parts chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 cups boiling water

1 medium carrot, cut in a small dice

2 large jalapeno chilies or any other fairly mild green chili pepper

Salt to taste

Fresh cilantro (coriander) for garnish

Heat the oil in a saucepan. Add the onions and garlic and cook over medium-low heat until translucent.

Stir in the carrots, chilies and spring onions and stir together.

Add the rice and the tomato puree. Mix well, then add the boiling water.

Add salt to taste.

Bring the water to a boil, then cover and simmer over low heat for 15 minutes.

Turn off and let it sit, without removing the lid, for another 10 minutes.

Serve hot.

Potatoes with Jalapeno Chilies and Garlic

Ingredients:

4 large yellow potatoes, boiled in their jackets until just tender, then cut into a 3/4-inch dice (don’t overcook them or they will break up on you).

2 large jalapeno chilies, cut into rings (substitute with any other fairly mild chili pepper

6-8 cloves garlic, minced

1 tbsp vegan “butter” + 1 tsp olive oil (this is really important to get that lovely golden-brown crust)

2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Salt to taste

Heat the oil and “butter” in a skillet, preferably a cast-iron one.

Add the chilies and potatoes and saute about 5 minutes until the potatoes have a lovely golden-brown color.

Add the garlic and saute another 2 minutes.

Stir in the salt and balsamic vinegar.

Garnish with fresh cilantro (coriander) if desired, and serve hot.

This one’s for — you guessed it! — It’s A Vegan World: Mexican.

***

My brother-in-law Naru sent out this email the other day, and usually when I see the words “inspiring” and “motivational,” I hit the delete button faster than I can read the subject line. But this was my brother-in-law, so I gave it a minute, and I rather liked one part of it, because it’s sometimes good to remind ourselves how lucky we are. I don’t vouch for the accuracy of those statistics, but they can’t be far from true. So here it goes:

If you have never experienced the danger of war or the solitude of imprisonment, the agony of torture and hunger, you are much ahead of 500 million people who live through it every day.

If you have food in your refrigerator, clothes to wear, a roof on your head and a place to sleep, you are richer than 75% of the people who live on this Earth.

If you can go to your place of worship without being threatened, arrested, tortured or killed, you are luckier than 3000,000,000 people in this world.

If you have money in your bank account and your wallet and some loose change in some little box, you are one of the world’s 8% well-to-do population.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

(C) All recipes and photographs copyright of Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes.

Potato and Lima Bean Cakes (Tortitas de Alubias y Papa)


Morelia is a quiet city nestled high in the hills of the Michoacan state of Mexico, and lined wall-to-wall with historic cathedrals and colleges. A grand aqueduct that looks like a procession of arches sweeps around the city’s outskirts. The streets buzz with students, stores crammed with charming artefacts, and tourists looking to just relax or worship.

When we usually travel, our days are a huge blur of running breathlessly from place to place, thanks to Desi who’s a regular Clark Griswold. I, on the other hand, like to take things easy. Needless to say, there’s always a lot of arguing about what to do and how much to do which, I think, makes our vacations more fun!

But in places like Morelia, I win because there is little to do other than go with the tranquil flow.

One of our favorite things to do when we visited Morelia was to go in the evenings to a restaurant, Cafe Europa, just opposite the huge and beautiful cathedral in the city’s center, order a big cup of coffee, and just sit back and watch the world go by. For once, even Desi did not complain about the lack of activity because he was too busy relaxing.

I ate a lot of bean and rice dishes in Mexico, but there were plenty of times when I was pleasantly surprised by the exquisite ways in which your usual old staples were transformed into something special.

In Morelia, I found a vegetarian restaurant where I ate a delicious burger with a vegetarian patty stuffed inside of it. It tasted a lot like these potato and lima bean cakes that I’m serving up today. The crunch of the patty or cake was perfect with the soft bread.

I served these cakes with just some stir-fried beet greens (try them, Obama, and I promise you’ll become a fan of the delicious beet!). You could also just try eating them like burgers, stuffed inside a crusty bread, or like felafel, in pita.

Traditionally, these would contain some cheese, but of course I left it out because this is a vegan food blog and hey, why spoil a good thing?

The potato and lima bean cakes also remind me a little of a popular Indian street snack, Ragda Patties, which are potato cakes served in a pea sauce. But unlike that dish, these cakes combine both the legume and spud right inside the patty which means less work for me. And that’s just the way I like it.


Potato and Lima Bean Cakes (Tortitas de Alubias y Papa)

Ingredients:

4 large floury potatoes, diced and then boiled until fork-tender

1 cup lima beans, soaked for a few hours, then cooked until tender

1 bunch scallions/spring onions, finely chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 jalapeno peppers (use any moderately hot green chilies if you can’t find these)

1 medium red onion, finely diced

2 tsp cornflour mixed with 2 tbsp water

Salt to taste

About 1/2 cup of flour, for dredging the patties.

1-3 tbsp canola or other vegetable oil.

Place the potatoes and lima beans in a bowl and mash together until you have a lumpy but fairly smooth mixture.

Add the remaining ingredients and mix together. The potato-bean mixture should hold together when you form a patty.

Make 2-inch wide patties and dredge them in the flour. Shake off any excess flour.

Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a cast-iron or non-stick skillet.

When the oil is hot, place just enough patties in it so the skillet is not overcrowded.

Cook about 2-3 minutes on each side, over medium-high heat, or until golden-brown.

Serve hot with any hot sauce or these yummy stir-fried beet greens (recipe follows)

Stir-fried Beet Greens

Ingredients:

1 bunch beet greens, thinly shredded

3-4 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced.

1 tbsp canola or olive oil

Salt to taste

Heat oil in a skillet.

Add the garlic, and when it turns golden, add the beet greens.

Toss together and cook on medium-low heat for about 5 minutes or until greens are absolutely tender.

Add salt to taste.

Serve hot.

These delicious cakes go, of course, to It’s A Vegan World: Mexican. There’s a week left to go, more or less, so hurry up folks and send in your entries!

(C) All recipes and photographs copyright of Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes.