I consider myself a “part time vegetarian.” This may sound like a hoax, like a new vegetarian who just can’t put the steak down, like an identifier not worth mentioning. Really, though, it’s more than that. I try to cut back on how much meat I eat not because I think eating animals is wrong per se, but because I find the way the food industry treats its slaughter animals to be, well, certainly lacking fundamental ethics and violating basic boundaries of animal physiology.
Consequently, I am also a college student, which, when translated plainly, means dirt broke. Meat is expensive. Meanwhile, there are two high-energy staples that never seem to get more expensive: rice and beans. Though rice and beans is the typical low-budget meal, I feel proud to at least live beyond the stereotypical ramen and boxed macaroni and cheese that college students seem to be famous for these days. Hey, at least I can throw some stuff in a pan, right? It may not seem all that glamorous, but rice and beans can be a truly adventurous meal if one puts their mind to it. Plus, there are endless variations; I myself have prepared rice and beans in a number of ways, and though I am an expert at budgeting for groceries, my partner and I still eat this once a week.
There are a couple things that can go wrong: 1) Your tortilla can rip. 2) All the stuffing can fall out of the bottom, even if the tortilla is intact. To prevent a burrito catastrophe, make sure you warm your tortillas in the microwave on a plate, covered by a moist paper towel, for about 20-30 seconds. Once they are steaming, spoon in filling until there is about a 2 inch gap at the top and bottom of the tortilla, and 3 inch gaps on the sides. Filling in this way will allow you to fold up the top and bottom, then wrap the sides neatly so the filling stays in! If you limit your stuffing, you limit how much you’re eating and also ensuring that you’ll actually eat all of the filling while it is still in the tortilla. Have forks for backup anyway.
Vegetarian Rice and Bean Burritos
flour tortillas (can be white, wheat, whatever you prefer)
1 and 1/2 cups rice
3 cups water
15 ounces of beans (black, kidney, whatever you prefer)
about 10 ounces of corn
about 1/4 to 1/2 green pepper, diced
about 1/2 onion, diced
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 tbsp. chili powder
1 tbsp. canola oil
jalapeno rings (whatever your mouth can handle – I usually add about 12 rings)
non-fat plain yogurt (this is a healthy sour cream substitute – you’ll never know the difference!)
shredded cheddar cheese
-Add 3 cups of water to large saucepan and heat on high to a boil (this is a good time to dice your veggies). Add rice and bring down to a simmer, cooking until the rice is moist but not watery, approximately 15-20 minutes.
-While the rice cooks, warm canola oil in large frying pan over medium heat. Saute garlic, onion, and green pepper for about 2-3 minutes.
-Add beans, corn, jalapenos, and chili powder, cooking on medium heat for another 3-5 minutes. Test the beans to be sure they are soft, particularly if you have rehydrated them (I recommend canned for that reason).
-Add rice and stir in well, being sure to fully coat the rice, while still over the flame. After fully incorporated, remove from heat.
-Warm the tortillas in the microwave under a moist paper towel for 20-30 seconds or until steamy.
-Spoon about a 1/4 cup of the mix onto your tortilla (following the suggested guidelines above the recipe for the “perfect” amount), and add shredded cheese, lettuce, hot sauce, salsa, and yogurt to taste. Tip: Don’t overload your burrito!
This recipe is really easy to manipulate to your tastes. If you’re trying to lower your calorie intake, try wheat tortillas and low fat cheese. Another suggestion is to make the rice and bean recipe and eat with polenta instead – it can be a flavorful tortilla alternative if prepared as I have in my Valentine’s Day recipe, and the rice and beans can be spooned right on top! This recipe is also easy to make vegan by forgetting the cheese and yogurt, selecting tortillas you can be sure have no milk or egg products, or subbing the polenta in if your tortilla search turns up fruitless (hahaha). For a healthy but meaty alternative, add some ground turkey to the mix and decrease the rice by a 1/4 or 1/2 cup.
Keep in mind: this recipe should make 12-15 servings!