Growing up in the western half of the US, all during childhood I was convinced that the world saw sandwiches, burritos, and stir fry as I did: they were all basically blank slates for whatever you wanted to eat. Sandwiches could have lunch meat, or egg salad, or meatloaf, or peanut butter on them – much in the way that “stir fry” meant whatever meat and vegetables you had in the fridge, all over rice, usually with some teriyaki sauce or whatever other seasoning you felt like.
I have the same theory about burritos: anything should go in them because a tortilla is primarily a delicious way to get a combination of other things into your mouth. In coming to the East Coast, I’ve learned that burritos aren’t universally treated as cylindrical alternatives to sandwiches, and that most people don’t just keep tortillas on hand. (I also learned that the East Coast is disgustingly obsessed with Italian food, but that’s another story.) In fact, I’ve encountered quite a few people who’ve never had a real burrito (let alone one of the fake ones that I make or that can be bought from Qdoba/Chipotle/etc.).
And so, in case you haven’t been introduced to the burrito as an absorber of leftovers or a flavor-pliable backdrop for dinner, I give you my most recently successful burritos.
1/2 cup white rice, cooked
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
1 Tbs. lime juice
1/2 Tbs. olive oil
1/2 garlic clove (or 1-3 tsp. minced garlic)
While you’re cooking the rice, blend mint, lime juice, olive oil, garlic and 2 Tbs. water in a blender or food processor until smooth. Then, stir into cooked rice and fluff with a fork.
Spiced Chicken and Black Beans
1 can black beans, liquid reserved
1/2 onion or 3 green onions, chopped
1 cup cooked chicken, shredded (ok, these would be more flavorful if you cooked cubed boneless skinless breasts in all the spices below, but I used chicken I’d previously cooked, so thought I’d stick to my recipe—–also, it would be really easy to make these vegetarian by simply cooking the beans on their own, then adding roasted bell peppers / mushrooms to the burritos later)
If your chicken is already cooked, you’re basically just combining these ingredients to cook the onion, absorb the black bean liquid, and generally heat your dinner. Make sure you give your spices enough time to heat up and become flavorful.
For each burrito, combine mint-lime rice, chicken/black beans, corn, and salsa verde.