January 12, 2013

Black-Bean Burritos

(Updated 11-3-21) Nearly ten years ago I read a book called Dinner: A Love Story by Jenny Rosenstrach. The book got me started on meal planning, a ritual I still, usually, do every week before grocery shopping. It also was the source for several recipes we've loved ever since, most of all this one. Full of delicious Mexican flavors-- beans, cilantro, pickled onions, salsa, sour cream, lime, corn, spices, just enough jalapeno for flavor but not heat-- and meatless so not too heavy, these are a definite family favorite. They are pan-fried for a few minutes after wrapping them, which gives them a crispy crust and warms them up. 

My son has loved them ever since he was about two when I started making them. He went through that phase that most kids do around age four when he was newly aware and wary of foods he'd been devouring throughout toddlerhood. Somehow these burritos survived that period; I remember telling him several times as he approached this meal with apprehension, "I promise, you have loved these every time we've had them" and somehow it worked. They're a satisfying vegetarian meal, a perfect easy/quick/weeknight meal, a lucky leftover lunch the next day (cold or warm), and something we can often whip up with staples on hand even if we haven't planned for it. All you need is a salad on the side.  

(FYI, I've made several changes to the original recipe over the years. The recipe in the book calls for 2 cans of black beans and a minuscule amount of corn (1 cob). We make them with less bean and more corn. Original recipe calls for 6 8-inch tortillas. This is a size I find difficult to find and when I do, harder to wrap up. I prefer fewer, burrito-sized burritos. Also, the original has all the toppings served at the table (sour cream, salsa, lime)...which you could certainly do if you had no idea what people wanted. But we all want everything-- except I only add hot sauce to the adult ones-- so I find it much simpler to seal all the flavors in before frying them up and then they are just ready to eat at the table.) 

Black Bean Burritos
adapted from Dinner: A Love Story: It all Begins at the Family Table, by Jenny Rosenstrach

For Pickled Onions:
2 C water 
2 T sugar
3 T red wine vinegar
1 t salt
1/2 an onion, thinly sliced

3 T vegetable oil + more
1 garlic clove, minced
3 scallions, chopped
1 t ground cumin
1/2 jalapeno pepper, minced
salt and pepper
1 15-oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
2 C frozen corn (or kernels from 4 ears fresh)

To Assemble:
5 10-in. (burrito-size) tortillas
grated cheddar cheese
finely chopped cilantro
sour cream
lime wedges
hot sauce if desired

Quick pickle the onions: Bring vinegar, sugar, water, and salt to a boil in a small saucepan. Add onion and simmer, uncovered, about 3 minutes. Drain. (Can be done ahead.)

Make filling: In a large skillet over medium heat, heat oil and add garlic, scallions, cumin, jalapeno, and salt, and pepper and cook, stirring, about 1 minute. 

Stir in beans, mashing them with back of wooden spoon. Add 1/3 C water and cook, stirring, until most of the liquid is absorbed, about 5 minutes. 

Toss in corn and remove from heat.

Lay out all 5 tortillas. Spread the bean filling across middle of each, leaving some space at both ends. 

Sprinkle each with all toppings or as desired: cheese, pickled onions, cilantro, sour cream, salsa, squeeze of lime, and hot sauce. Fold tortillas to close tightly. 

Scrape out any remaining filling from same large skillet, then heat more oil in it at medium-high. Add 3 burritos at a time, seam side down, and fry until lightly browned on underside, about 2 minutes. Turn over and fry until golden, another 2 minutes. Repeat with remaining burritos and serve warm, preferably with a salad with lots of yummies on the side.

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