Bean burrito gets Mardi Gras makeover
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
One of the many appealing things about a burrito is that an often surprising range of ingredients can be rolled up into a complete meal in a single package.
But other less desirable surprises also can lurk inside burritos, especially extra fat and calories you may not have bargained for.
These Creole-style burritos are inspired by the flavors of the Gulf Coast, take only about 35 minutes to make, and are built with ingredients that will make your Fat Tuesday celebration a little less fattening.
First off, they're vegetarian, eliminating one of the chief culprits behind gut-busting burritos -- fatty meat fillings like ground beef or pork.
Here, red beans and rice, a Louisiana favorite, bring the heft and some protein to the party. The recipe calls for a convenient boxed rice and beans mix, but you can use homemade, especially if you're looking to cut down on the sodium (though you may want to use a bit more Cajun seasoning to keep the flavors popping).
Vegetables make up the rest of this Mardi Gras-inspired wrap. Again, for convenience we call for a packaged frozen pepper and onion stir-fry mix, but if you have the time, you can fry up your own.
A handful of baby spinach adds more color and nutrients and is a healthy switch from the typical iceberg lettuce that's often found in this kind of dish.
And of course, no burrito would be complete without some cheese. We've kept things light by blending full-flavored, full-fat pepper jack cheese with some lower-calorie reduced-fat cheddar. Last, but not least, we wrap everything up in a whole-wheat tortilla.
When it comes to wraps you need to choose carefully because tortillas vary widely in nutrition. A flour tortilla can have as few as 100 calories and about 1 gram of fat, or as many as 400 calories and 12 grams of fat.
An 8-ounce box of red beans and rice mix will make about double the amount needed to fill these burritos. You can either make half the box (you will need to adjust the package cooking times and reduce the amount of broth used) or serve the excess on the side.
8-ounce package red beans and rice mix
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup grated pepper jack cheese
1 cup grated reduced-fat cheddar cheese
16-ounce package frozen pepper and onion stir-fry mix, thawed
1/2 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
6 burrito-size whole-grain tortillas
2 cups fresh baby spinach
3/4 cup salsa
Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
Cook beans and rice according to package directions, substituting the broth for the water called for.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, toss together both cheeses. Set aside.
In a large skillet over medium-high, combine the pepper and onion mix with the Cajun seasoning. Cook, stirring often, until the vegetables are dry, about 5 minutes. Set aside.
Sprinkle 1/4 cup of the cheese blend over each tortilla; there will be about 1/2 cup remaining.
Spoon about 1/3 cup of the rice and beans over the bottom two thirds of each tortilla. Spread about 1/3 cup of the pepper-onion mix over the rice. Pile some of the baby spinach on top of the peppers. Fold in 2 sides of each tortilla and roll up. Arrange the burritos, seam-side down, in a baking dish. Top each with salsa and some of the remaining cheese.
Bake the burritos for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until heated through and the cheese is melted.