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Vegan Burrito Bowl for Fifty Cents a Serving

I confess: I’m a burrito addict. Maybe it’s the combination of spices, or the warm tortilla that wraps up the contents in a lovely fluffy blanket, but there’s something about the mix of beans and rice that just says, “comfort food.”

This spring was a tough one, with snow, ice, rain, then more snow coming down almost daily. I don’t think I’ve seen the sun in a week. Sunshine can only be faked in the kitchen with some cilantro, chili peppers, cumin, lemon pepper and smoked paprika. That’s right: If you want to feel the heat – stay in the kitchen.

Though I’m not too far from Kensington Market, the idea of dragging myself out into the cold, damp misery that is early April in Toronto is not appealing…even if it is for fresh from the oven tortillas.

Fighting off a flu, and hobbling about in my kitchen, I had only a few ingredients and a limited reserve of energy to make myself food. Canned beans and a pot of rice is my home version of fast food. I know, purists would soak and boil those beans, but then again, those same purists would be out there planting and hand-picking their own beans, giving each one a name and storing it in an artisanal, hand-crafted vessel.

There are times when canned beans are a blessing, and flu season is one of them. When bought on sale at 79 cents per can, it’s a healthy and very affordable deal. The breakdown for this meal comes to fifty cents a serving, including the rice and cilantro. The avocado brought it closer to a dollar, since I bought a bag for $3 at my green grocer, earlier. The rice was bought in bulk, so it came out to less than what I’d usually pay for pre-packaged brown rice.

I know, purists would soak and boil those beans, but then again, those same purists would be out there planting and hand-picking their own beans, giving each one a name and storing it in an artisanal, hand-crafted vessel.

Another frugal benefit: Leftover beans and rice can be used in soups, stews or stuffed into veggie-burgers. More on that, later. Now, on to our adventures in Cooking While Under The Influence of Cough Syrup!

First step: Take a deep swig of cough syrup. Room spinning? Check.

Second step: Take one cup of brown rice, wash it, and toast it a bit in the pot. This will give your rice a bit more depth as well as guarantee fluffy brown rice.  Add three cups of water or veggie broth – whatever you have on hand, really.  I’ve dolled up my rice with a sprig of bay leaf. Bring it to a boil on your stove top, cover it, and then turn off the burner.

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Third Step: pass out for an hour while the rice steams.

Wake up to your rice being fully cooked. Feel righteous that your rice came out looking restaurant worthy. Celebrate with another swig of cough syrup.

Next, pick a medium sized yellow onion, and slice it into rings. Sauté the onion in a tablespoon or two of olive oil until they are soft, and slightly translucent.

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Next, open the can of beans and rinse it. Yes, I know I’m lazy, but this step is an important one, and even at my most sluggish, I rinse the beans. Why? Some beans break down or get mashed in the can, leaving a pulpy residue. Some also say that rinsing the beans reduces the cellulose that contributes to gas; I just don’t like murky looking beans darkening the rice.

See how nice the beans looked when they’re rinsed?

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Toss them in to the pan along with the onions. Add the following spices:

  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon lemon pepper (or more, to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

You can add chilli peppers, chopped jalapeño peppers – whatever floats your boat, really. I decorated it with some fresh chopped cilantro and some avocado:

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Look at them. I mean, just look at them – like little ovoid suns, suggesting balmier temperatures and warmer climes. How could I not put them in my burrito bowl?

Here’s a look at the finished product:

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If this fragrant and spicy bowl can’t kick my bug to the curb, nothing will. I’m only sorry I didn’t chop up some jalapeño peppers for some extra kick, but I can add them to the leftover mix tomorrow.

Now for the truly important question I know you’re dying to ask: How does it pair with cough syrup? Let’s be honest, nothing pairs with cough syrup. I’d recommend a cerveza or a tequila based cocktail, if you’re imbibing. If, like me, you’re medicated, and know better than to mix over-the-counter medication with alcohol, a hot lemon tea works with this meal, too.

To your good health!

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