Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Meatless Mexican

One of my favourite cuisines has to be Mexican food. Let's be honest, I try to be authentic but I use cheddar cheese which immediately renders it "Tex Mex". I make these breakfast or lunch burritos that I freeze and keep in neat foil packages, ready for it's 3.5 minute ride in my microwave. I can't tell you how many times a frozen burrito has saved me - during busy times at work, I would grab a couple (a breakfast and a lunch version) for meals on the go. They're hearty, flavourful, and nutritious.

This was probably the first thing I was thinking of when creating a vegetarian version. Usually the burrito would consist of: tomato-based rice pilaf, spiced meat, black beans, cheese, salsa. A breakfast version would be: steamed potatoes, scrambled eggs, beans, salsa, and cheese. It would be easy enough to omit the meat and just have a rice and beans burrito but I wanted to create a kind of meat substitute where I could still enjoy the substantial texture of a 'mock meat'.

One of my favourite restaurants in Vancouver is La Taqueria, who do authentic tacos using locally sourced ingredients. A staple on my colourful plastic plate is their roasted chili and creamed corn taco - an amazing balance of sweet, spicy and creamy goodness. I decided to do a twist on this and make a creamed corn filling.

As the rice was cooking away (it was brown rice, so it took a looooong time) I made the corn filling:

I blackened a jalapeno and sauteed it in some butter, then added about two cups of corn. I cooked that for a few minutes then added about 3/4 cup of milk to reduce and thicken. I didn't use cream (didn't have any) and the mixture didn't thicken quite as well as I had hoped, so I added about 1/2 tsp of cornstarch. It did come together nicely but it still lacked...something. And that something? Cheese! Glorious cheese!

Oh hellz yeah. 
Next up? A taco-spiced potato hash! A friend of mine warned me that a potato hash would take a long time to cook. And it did. Probably about 30 minutes? Three moderate sized potatoes, cubed, sauteing themselves in oil for about half an hour. But it turned out way better than expected. Crispy on the outside, soft on the inside! I kept the heat on medium-medium high and turned them every few minutes. I sprinkled about 1/4 package of taco seasoning to coat and toss in the last few minutes.

Awesome colour on these taters!
The rice was still not done. So it looked like I would have a rice-less plate tonight - which I didn't mind as everything else was awesome. I opened up a can of black beans, washed, drained and strained and tossed it into a small saucepan with about 1/3 cup of water.I let it cook for a bit and mashed the heck out of it. Usually for salads I keep the beans whole, but mashed black beans in a burrito 'holds' a little bit better and acts as a glue for the rice, haha.

My finished plate:
(with a scoop of salsa and a sprinkle of cheese)

Meatless Month has gotten off to a good start!

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