Monday, July 26, 2010

Vegetable Burrito- and stories of authentic Mexican food

There is a farm stand about a mile from my house that sells local produce, bread, eggs, etc.  This past week, a woman started coming each day to sell Mexican food that she prepares as you order it.  The menu includes tamales, sopes, enchiladas, quesadillas, and gorditas.  I ate there two days in a row for lunch and we just gave her a huge order for dinner tomorrow night because we will have a crowd eating at our house.  My favorite meal from her so far has been quesadillas with squash blossoms and mushrooms.  After I ordered it, she took a ball of dough, made it into a tortilla, put it on the griddle and filled it with the vegetables and some cheese.  She then topped it with her homemade mole sauce that she dispensed from a Tupperware.  It had a consistency similar to a pupusa and it was so much more flavorful than the typical quesadilla that most people imagine.  The best part is that the woman is adorable and gets so excited when I tell her how much I love her food. Yesterday after I finished eating and thanked her, she gave me another dish (I forget the name of it, I had never heard of it before) and refused to let me pay!  She doesn’t really speak English so it is hard to communicate.  Her son translates for her but I really wish I spoke better Spanish.  French seems incredibly useless in this setting. 
I will take some pictures of her food (although I’m sure they won’t do her justice) and I will try to maybe ask her for some recipes later in the summer.  In the meantime, I have a recipe for vegetable burritos that are not nearly as authentic but still pretty yummy and an easy meal to prepare.  The vegetables make it slightly healthier than a typical burrito since they replace rice and meat.

Vegetable Burritos
Makes 4 servings
Filling and Sauce:
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 yellow onion, medium dice
6 ounces cremini mushrooms, medium dice
3 zucchini or summer squash, medium dice
2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper
1 can pinto or black beans
~1 cup cojita queso, shredded (depending how much cheese you like)
4 flour tortillas
Salsa or enchilada sauce (El Pato is a decent brand), Tomatillo salsa would also be excellent
~ 1 cup jack cheese

½ cup cilantro, chopped
½ cup yellow onion, chopped
½ cup tomatoes, chopped
1 avacado, sliced
Sour cream (optional)

To prepare the filling, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add the onions and cook until they begin to soften.  Season with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes, then add mushrooms to the pan.  If it looks dry, add a bit more olive oil.  Cook until mushrooms release their liquid and onions are softened but still slightly crunchy in the middle.  Set aside mushrooms and onions and return skillet to medium-high heat with another tablespoon of olive oil.  Add zucchini and summer squash and season with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes.  Cook until the vegetables just begin to soften.  They will continue to cook inside the burrito and overcooked squash is icky.  Once they are done, add them to the plate with the mushrooms and onions.
To prepare the garnishes, simply combine the onion, cilantro, and tomato and set aside.  To assemble the burritos, I usually set up a burrito bar and let people add their own fillings.  I didn’t include rice in this recipe because I think it is kind of unnecessary.  But feel free to add any Mexican or Spanish rice to the filling options.  Inside my burritos, I like to put pinto beans, vegetables, cojita queso, and some salsa.  I then top them with enchilada sauce and lots of jack cheese.  To make life easier, I usually just microwave them at this point to get all of the cheese melted.  If you wanted to prepare a whole pan, you could put them in the oven at 350 for 10-15 minutes, or until the cheese melts.  When they are hot, top them generously with all the garnishes.  I put sour cream as an optional topping since I don’t usually include it.  Omitting it makes the dish slightly healthier although I’m sure that is somewhat negated by the amount of cheese I like to use.

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