Friday, January 11, 2013

Veggie Burritos and Guacamole

If you work in DC near the McPhearson Square area of DC, or live in the Columbia Pike area of Arlington then you are hopefully familiar with the fantastic burritos served up by Pedro & Vinny's.  In DC they operate via a food cart (not a food truck) at the corner of 15th and K, and in Arlington they now have a freestanding location a block or two down from the Arlington Cinema Drafthouse.  

When my husband worked in McPhearson Square I would sometimes come meet him for lunch and we always went to the burrito cart.  This may not sound fancy, but these burritos are amazing.  They are large and made with all fresh ingredients, and most impressive of all they are full of flavor without using any meat (the Arlington location does have meat options).  Eventually my husband changed jobs and moved locations so that our burrito lunch dates are no longer possible.  We never lost our love for these burritos though, and so we started trekking down to Columbia Pike sometimes to satisfy our cravings.  I always made sure to pay close attention every time my order was prepared, and eventually I realized that I could probably make similar burritos at home myself.  I noticed that they key elements are sauteing the black beans with spices, and steaming the tortillas.  

My hunch proved correct as I now have the process for these burritos down to a science and this recipe is so popular in my house that I make it probably every two weeks.  There are definitely additional add on items you can include that I do not use, such as cheese or sour cream, and you can omit various items, such as the refried beans, as well.

Veggie Burritos

1 Box Spanish Rice (Near East brand recommended)
2 Cans Black Beans
1 Can Vacuum Packed Corn
1 Can Refried Beans (optional)
1 Head Green Leaf Lettuce
1 Pint Cherry Tomatoes
1 Medium Onion
2 Cloves of Garlic
2 Tsp Ground Cumin
2 Tsp Chili Powder
Whole Wheat Tortillas
Guacamole (recipe below)
Hot Sauce of Choice

Step 1:  This is another recipe where prep is the most important element in order to keep you from losing your mind.  Once you begin cooking everything starts moving pretty fast so if you have everything already rinsed, chopped, and diced the process will run much smoother.  So for the first step you need to rinse and chop your lettuce, rinse the cherry tomatoes, empty the black beans into a colander and rinse, and dice the onion and garlic.  Also go ahead and open the corn and empty into a microwave safe dish.  If you are also making homemade guacamole (see recipe below) to go with the burritos you should also prep all of these ingredients at this time too.

Step 2:  Once everything is rinsed, chopped and diced, you can begin to cook your Spanish rice following the directions on the back of the box.  I recommend using the Near East brand because the rice is the perfect texture once cooked, it's not too saucy or too sticky like other Spanish rice brands I've tried.  If you use this brand it will take approximately 25 minutes for the rice to cook. The entire rest of this recipe will be completed in the time it takes the rice to cook so that everything is ready at the same time.  Once you have the rice cooking you should empty the can of refried beans into a pan on the stove and start to cook over low heat.  You will want to occasionally come back and stir these beans, but generally you don't need to pay much attention to these from here on out.  Once the refried beans are on the stove you should use the next 10 minutes to make the guacamole (see recipe below).

Step 3:  When the rice has 15 minutes left to cook spray a large skillet with non-stick cooking spray and begin to heat over medium heat.  Let heat for about 2 minutes, then add diced onion and garlic along with the ground cumin and chili powder.

At this 15 minute mark you should also begin boiling the water to steam your tortillas.  I am lucky enough to have a steamer that sits on top of one of my pots.  I fill the pot about half way with water, I place the steamer on top and place the lid on the steamer.  I turn the heat to high and wait for the water to boil.  If you do not have a pot with a steamer like this I'm not sure what the best alternative would be, you need some sort of steamer that can sit over boiling water and you need a lid that can cover the top of your steamer so that the steam doesn't escape.

The steamer sits on top of the pot, it came as part of my cookware set
Step 4:  Saute the onions, garlic, and spices for about 3 minutes.  At this point your rice should have about 10 minutes left to cook.  Add the rinsed black beans to the skillet and saute over medium heat with onion, garlic, and spices.  At this time you should also place your corn in the microwave and cook for 1:30 minutes.  If you have the space on your stove you can also cook the corn in a pan on the stove top, but I typically have all of my burners in use with other items during this recipe.

Step 5:  When the rice has about 3 minutes left to cook your water for the steaming should be boiling.  Place your tortillas in the steamer and cover with the lid, 3 minutes seems to be the perfect amount of time to steam the tortillas.  I can typically fit 3-4 tortillas in my steamer at a time, it is ok if they overlap but you don't want to overfill your steamer.

I place my tortillas over the holes and cover with the lid
At the end of the 3 minutes turn off your rice and beans and remove tortillas from the steamer and place on a plate.

Steaming the tortillas makes them soft and pliable, it also helps you seal your burrito once you have it filled

Step 6:  Serve up all of your ingredients for everyone to make their own burritos.


I love a great, simple guacamole to add some creamy texture to my burritos.  It's such an easy thing to make and always tastes best when fresh.  If you are not familiar with buying avocados then you need to know how to pick a ripe one.  If you are going to be using it the same day then look for one with dark green skin and that feels soft when lightly squeezed, if you are going to wait a day then still look for the dark green skin but try to find one that has a little firmness when you lightly squeeze it (but it should still feel somewhat soft).


1 Ripe Avocado
2 Cloves of Garlic
1 Can Petite Dices Tomatoes (or one whole tomato diced)
1 Lime Wedge
Salt & Pepper

Step 1:  Mince the garlic and place in a bowl.

Step 2:  Cut the avocado in half and scoop out the insides and add to the bowl with your garlic.

Step 3:  Drain the can of diced tomatoes, or if you are using a whole tomato dice it.  I prefer to use canned diced tomatoes simply because it is easier.  I generally like chopping and dicing vegetables, but tomatoes are my least favorite because of how soft they are.  If you are using canned tomatoes add about 3/4 of the can to your bowl with the avocado and garlic.

Step 4:  Squeeze one wedge of lime into the bowl.  The lime adds a hint of flavor and will help keep your guacamole from browning too much.  Add a pinch of salt and pepper.

Step 5:  Use a fork and mash everything in your bowl together.  You can control the texture of your guacamole, so you can leave it chunky if that's what you like, personally I prefer a creamier guacamole.  Once you have it mixed to your liking feel free to enjoy with chips, or as a topping for your burritos.

What do you like to include in your burritos?  Did any of you already know the trick of steaming the tortillas?

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