Over the past year, I have noticed myself cooking more and more meat. I don’t know why, I just seem to have moved into a “meat at the center of the plate” mindset. And I don’t like it. Not that I aspire to be a vegetarian; I’m too interested in trying anything and everything to go there. Besides, I like meat. (Actually, I tried to be a vegetarian for almost a week in college, during which I obsessed over hamburgers and barbecue. I’ve probably gone longer than a week without meat, but once I said I couldn’t have it, it was all I wanted.)
Anyway, omnivore I may be, but I’ve always been proud to think flexibly about food, not to be tied to the protein at the center of the plate. And I felt I was losing that. So I’ve decided to spend the next two weeks cooking exclusively vegetarian food, to reset my thinking.
I decided to start with an old favorite, the sweet potato and black bean burritos from my beloved, if uninspiringly named, copy of Patsy Jamieson’s Cooking for Health & Flavor. I would never have picked this book up, except Patsy Jamieson was my favorite contributor during the glory years of Eating Well magazine. As far as I know, this is her only cookbook.
This recipe is very easy to make, and the burritos are as good as I remembered: filling but light, with a wonderful combination of sweet, earthy, and spicy flavors. I do recommend goat cheese for its contrasting tang and creaminess, but if you don’t care for it use Cheddar or Jack and a little sour cream.
Sweet Potato and Black Bean Burritos
2 teaspoons canola oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 minced garlic cloves
4 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
3/4 cup vegetable or chicken broth
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and chopped (about 3 cups)
1 can Ro-Tel or similar tomatoes with green chiles, undrained
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
3/4 cup frozen corn
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon lime juice, or more to taste
salt and pepper to taste
5 large flour tortillas
Goat cheese or cheddar cheese and sour cream
Salsa or guacamole (recipe below), if desired
In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium heat. When hot, add onion. Cook, stirring, 2 to 3 minutes or until softened. Add garlic, cumin, and oregano, and stir 30 seconds. Add broth and sweet potato; bring to a simmer, then cover and cook 5 minutes.
Add tomatoes, beans, and corn. Return to a simmer, cover, and cook another 5 to 10 minutes, until sweet potato is tender. Use potato masher to mash about half of the mixture in the skillet. Stir in cilantro, lime juice, salt, and pepper. Taste for seasoning and add more if desired.
Heat tortillas and either construct burritos or put everything on the table to be assembled there.
I kind of lied up there when I said there was a “recipe” for guacamole below. This is too simple to really be a recipe. Take some very ripe avocados – I used “bacon” avocados, which are brownish green and extremely soft when ripe, but you can use any kind – and cut in half. Remove pits and scoop flesh into a bowl. Mash to your preferred consistency. Add salt and lime juice. Taste, and add more salt and lime until it tastes good to you. I like plenty of salt and LOTS of lime. Devour.