Something you may not know about me is that I eat a mainly vegetarian diet. And not for any particular reason either, I just find myself living day in and day out without paying much mind to meat. I’m lucky to love nuts, seeds, beans, tofu, tempeh, and generally anything else that might make my mother cringe.
In fact, if it weren’t for this blog and my constant urge to diversify the dishes I share here, I wonder how often I’d buy and make chicken. I also wonder how many ways I’d try to squeeze cake into breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner, snack, dessert. Did I mention snack?
Yes, I adore the succulence of a perfectly seared steak, the sweet smokiness of pulled pork, and the way lamb seems to melt on my tongue after a day of slow cooking, but I could go days, weeks, even months without ever really noticing that I’ve missed those tastes. And yes, last weekend I was over the moon to attend Cochon 555, essentially a massive heritage pork festival where I spent three hours eating everything from pork ravioli to pork belly sliders to bacon brittle gelato. And yes, even after hearing that it’s barely identifiable as ‘meat’, I’d still rather eat at Taco Bell than just about any other Mexican spot. Chalupas or bust.
But still. Those days and events are few.
I know that there are volumes to be written about the merits of going without meat even once a week. The impact on health, wealth, and the environment. But I’ll let others write those pages. Sometimes I wonder if we haven’t missed at least one aspect of the point behind letting go of meat-centricity. What if instead of praising our smaller carbon footprint and going easy on our arteries, we simply said, “Hey, did anyone realize that plant-based dishes can be different and absolutely delicious?” The point being that we don’t need to find the reason why we’re stepping out of the box, but instead the reason why we’ve limited our culinary creativity in the name of tradition. Not the why, but the why not?
I get that kobe beef will always taste as luscious as butter and that turkey, carved on Thanksgiving, will be nostalgically and physically satisfying. But the frontier for vegetable exploration is still fairly unsettled in my book. Who says lentils aren’t as lovable? Grilled portobello mushrooms as “mmm” inducing? Well, no one.
I’ve experimented up a storm. A few failures of note. A few, “Let’s never try this again.” The hard part isn’t pleasing my palate, but the one belonging to my beloved, Daniel. Convincing him that tofu isn’t only a savory marshmallow has been grueling. Perhaps trickery was involved. A wink as I placed the top bun on our “burgers.” Fingers crossed behind my back while presenting a bowl of chili missing the carne. Whatever white lies I may or may not have told have been worthwhile. Our kitchen now is a much more adventurous place. And not just because I have a penchant for throwing pots and pans and swearing.
These enchiladas are a vegetarian meal that Daniel requests over and over again. He loves them and so do I, though my love for them has lots to do with how quick, cheap, and eeeaaassy they are. I hope Sandra Lee will forgive me for borrowing her branding here, but…these are semi-homemade and fabulous. Chunky rice and beans mixed with sweet bell peppers inside flour tortillas, smothered with salsa and melted cheese. Find something better than melted cheese and then call me. I’ll be waiting patiently by the phone.
A few recommendations: Never waste money or energy buying enchilada sauce, especially since salsa is a world tastier and more all-purpose. Also, buy a few packets of natural taco seasoning. And though I do love the one by Old El Paso, it’s got about a million and one foreign ingredients so I’d opt for Trader Joe’s version if you can. Otherwise, a little MSG never killed anyone. Well, it may have, and I just don’t know. Taco seasoning is great to have on hand in any case. Whip these up for your family and serve them with hot sauce and sour cream.
Dinner is served.
In a large bowl, mix 2 cups brown rice, a rinsed and drained can of black beans, 1 bag of defrosted tri-color peppers, 3/4 cup medium salsa, and 1 packet taco seasoning. I like to use taco seasoning packets from Trader Joe’s because they don’t contain 57 tablespoons of MSG and the ingredient list is short.
Divide the mixture among twelve 6″ flour tortillas. Roll each tortilla tightly around the filling and place them side by side in a greased 13×9″ baking dish, whose bottom has been coated with 1/2 cup of salsa.
Spread 1 1/4 cups medium salsa evenly over the top of the rolled tortillas, then sprinkle with 1 1/2 cups shredded Mexican blend cheese.
Bake for 18-20 minutes at 350 degrees F, until the cheese has melted.
Vegetarian Black Bean Enchiladas
12, 6″ flour tortillas (~100 calories each)
2 cups cooked brown rice
1, 15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
1, 16 oz bag frozen bell pepper strips, cooked and drained
1 packet taco seasoning
2 1/4 cups medium salsa, divided
1 1/2 cups shredded Mexican blend cheese
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 13×9″ baking dish with nonstick cooking spray and spread 1/2 cup of salsa over the bottom. Lay your tortillas out on a clean work surface.
In a large bowl, mix the rice, beans, peppers, taco seasoning, and 3/4 cup salsa. Divide evenly among the tortillas. Roll each tortilla tightly and place seam side down in the prepared baking dish. You may have to place some of the filled tortillas horizontally to make them fit. Pour the remaining 1 cup salsa evenly over the tops of the rolled tortillas in the baking dish. Sprinkle the cheese over the top. Bake for 18-20 minutes, until the cheese has melted. Serve with hot sauce and sour cream.
Nutrition info for 1/6 of entire recipe (2 enchiladas):
Calories: 501, Fat: 14.9g, Carb: 72.4g, Fiber: 10.2g, Sugars: 5.4g, Protein: 21g