This post has been contributed – All opinions are mine alone
I like to go vegan from time to time, but there are some pretty tasty foods you miss out on when you go vegan. Thankfully, there are more and more options in stores and restaurants all the time. Still, why wait for these businesses to catch up with you? Taking the reins and making your own vegan substitutes for things at home is a lot easier than you may think. Besides, home cooking is the best way to sustain yourself anyway, so you don’t have much of an excuse not to do this at home!
We’ve already showed you with our banana “ice cream” how simple it can be to make a vegan substitute for ice cream. Now we’re going to look at something a little bit more elaborate while still remaining relatively simple. The title of this article has already given it away: we’re going to be making quick and easy vegan bean burritos!
The question of what sort of tortillas to buy becomes the same question a carnivore would ask: what makes a tortilla suitable for use as a burrito? Well, a lot of the tortillas you get in stores are pretty darn thin. The filling is going to be quite moist, so you can’t be dealing with some weakling brand that won’t result in burrito integrity!
Instead of getting the cheapest options available in stores, you may want to look at suppliers that sell strong, good-quality tortillas as a specialty. www.snacksuniverse.com is a good example; you can also choose between white flour and whole wheat or multigrain tortillas (hint hint: the latter two are healthier!). The thicker the tortilla, the easier it will be to fold. The best size should be at least 8 inches in diameter. Anything bigger and you might have to use cutlery to tackle that beast! (Make sure you double-check ingredients. Some flour tortillas are made with lard).
Are you using rice to bulk up the burrito, or do you want to use the rice as another opportunity to add exciting flavor? If you’re just looking for the former, then getting some quick-cook white rice should do the trick. You can find techniques for the best white rice at www.marthastewart.com; remember to reduce the time by about three minutes if you want the rice in the burrito to be a little more on the firm side as opposed to fluffy.
Something you should definitely consider if you want more flavor, however, is using brown rice (which, yes, is healthier!) boiled with some vegetable stock. Throw about a third of a stock cube in with the rice as you’re cooking it; any more and you risk the rice overpowering the other ingredients.
The bean mixture
Now we’re getting to the good stuff. You’re going to want red onion, peppers in a variety of colors (yellow, red, and orange are best!), black beans, garlic, and a large, fresh tomato (you can also use a can of chopped tomatoes). Slice the onion and peppers (leaving a little bit of red onion for the guacamole later; process that onion with some oil and avocado and bam, guac!) into fairly chunky but long slices and start frying those up. Don’t sauté the garlic with these. Throw in any spices you’re using at this stage, as they’ll activate with more potency when exposed immediately to hot oil. You can read more about the proper use of spices over at www.wikihow.com. Paprika, chili flakes, cumin, chili powder, and a little bit of turmeric work best here. Don’t over-fry the onions – you want them to retain some crunch.
Now you want to add the black beans. Let them fry for a couple of minutes, stirring occasionally, then add the chopped tomatoes. You may want to drain the tomatoes a bit until they stop dripping from a sieve (especially if you are using the canned variety); otherwise, you’ll end up with too much moisture. You’re not going to be cooking this mixture long enough for reduction to take place! Turn the heat to moderate-low and let it simmer for about ten minutes.
Once, you’ve taken it off the heat, then stir in some sliced garlic. This is the best way to go about this in terms of both flavor and health. Check out the health benefits of garlic, particularly raw garlic, at www.healthyeating.sfgate.com. The “less cooked” your garlic, the better. Adding in some slices while the mixture is off the heat and cooling down allows it to get warmed up enough to take away some of the harshness of the flavor without sacrificing too many of the healthy elements of this wonderful allium. Win-win!
“Cheese” and “sour cream”
So far, so standard, right? There’s not much here to separate a vegetarian burrito from a vegan burrito. But let’s face it: a lot of us aren’t too fussed about what meat happens to be in there or not; we’re really in it for the melted cheese and sour cream! This, of course, is where your burrito must stop being a mere vegetarian burrito and truly prove its vegan credentials.
A lot of vegan burritos end up being quite dry due to a lack of sour cream, but you can whip up a great substitute. There are many ways to make vegan sour cream, but my favorite is through the use of cashew nuts. Get a cup of these nuts and let them soak overnight. Then, get them into a blender. Add half a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar, a pinch of salt, a dash of lemon juice, half a teaspoon of sugar, and ⅓ a cup of water, and let that all process for at least five minutes. You can add some more of those ingredients to your preferred taste!
This “sour cream” – which, admittedly, is just tasty cashew nut paste – sometimes negates the need for cheese for some people, as cashews are a popular ingredient in vegan cheese substitutes. While there are some good vegan cheese brands out there, very few of them actually melt. You can go to www.allrecipes.com if you want to make a quick and simple thick sauce that simulates the feel and taste of melted cheese!
So there you have it – the whole scoop on making a truly VEGAN burrito! Enjoy!