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Lentil Burritos

December 31, 2014

It’s true, these burritos don’t have any meat, but they aren’t vegetarian. A few cups of chicken stock provide enough flavor for the entire dish. You could substitute vegetable stock if you wanted to go completely vegetarian. But many vegetable stocks contain more sodium to make up for some lost flavor so consider omitting the salt from the recipe and then adding it back in according to your tastes.

Have no fear. These burritos have a deliciously Mediterranean flavor. Since we don’t use cumin, their shape and wrap are the only aspects that hearken to Mexican cuisine. Obviously the lentils speak to its Indian heritage, and the cayenne pepper reinforces that flavor. These burritos can be quite spicy, so adjust the pepper accordingly. A delicious tzatziki sauce or herbed yogurt sauce (recipe follows) help to cool the heat of these burritos. And a side of falafel wouldn’t go amiss nestled among these legume wraps on your plate.

Lentils are a powerhouse of nutrition, providing essential vitamins and minerals and a healthy percentage of dietary fiber. But like all legumes, lentils lack the complete amino acid compliment that animal protein provides. As such, a complimentary food is needed to complete the amino acid set required for proper nutrition. Sesame seeds are one of those complimentary foods, and hummus, made with ground sesame seeds would perfectly compliment both the chickpeas in the falafel (and hummus) and the lentils in the burritos.

Lest we mistake these burritos as vegan, even if you make them with vegetable stock, the burrito shells are dipped in an egg and parsley wash and quickly fried and topped with a few tablespoons of Monterey Jack cheese shreds. Large flour wraps, specifically burrito shells, work best. Larger pinwheel deli wraps and smaller soft taco shells won’t work here. As will thicker pita, naan or other flat breads as they are too thick to roll properly.

Heating the shells makes them pliable and easy to wrap. The thin layer of egg wash cooks in about 30 seconds a side, so don’t overcook them. If the egg wash ends up dark brown, that’s your cue that it’s overcooked. Adjust the temperature a bit lower and decrease the cooking time on each side. A very large nonstick skillet sprayed with nonstick cooking spray will let these shells slip and slide onto your board for final assembly. To allow the cheese a short amount of time to melt properly, sprinkle it over the burrito shell after you turn it. The cheese goes on the inside of the shell rather than the outside.

You might be tempted to cook up the shells while the filling simmers for it’s 30 minutes, but that isn’t advised. The shell will cool and the eggs will stiffen if it’s allowed to cool. These burritos should be served, food line-style with each burrito made and served before the next burrito can be started. Luckily the shells take almost no time to prepare, and if you can conscript an older child or another adult to help with the shells, the assembly line can run nonstop.

“Meatless Monday” doesn’t have to be meal of gastronomic sacrifices.

Herbed Yogurt Sauce

Make this sauce early in the day or a few days ahead to give it time for the flavors to mingle and mellow.

  • 16 ozs. plain, Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup fresh parsley leaves, packed
  • ¼ cup green onions
  • 3-4 cloves garlic
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • ¼ cup lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper 

Combine all the ingredients except the yogurt in a food processor and pulse to mince and thoroughly combine, about 25 pulses. Stir the herb mixture into the yogurt and mix thoroughly. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to a week. Stir in or pour off any liquid or whey that rises to the top.

Lentil Burrito Filling

  • 3 cup chicken broth
  • 1 medium onion, diced finely
  • 1 cup unpeeled red potato, cubed into dice-sized pieces
  • ½ cup brown lentils
  • 1 chipotle pepper in adobo, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon hot or mild curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne
  • 14 ozs. diced tomatoes
  • ¼ cup lime juice
  • 10 ozs. fresh spinach, cleaned, stemmed and chopped

Sautée the onion in a tablespoon of mild vegetable oil until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients except for the spinach and lime juice and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes or until the lentils are tender but not too soft. You may need to add a bit more liquid if the potatoes and lentils aren’t soft enough. After the lentils and potatoes are completely cooked, add the spinach and stir to wilt. Turn the heat to very low and stir in the lime juice.

Burrito Shells

  •  10-inch burrito flour tortillas, 1-2 per person
  • 2-3 whole eggs
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley, copped
  • 2 tablespoons whole milk
  • 8 ozs. shredded Monterey Jack cheese

Beat the eggs, parsley and milk in a large shallow dish. Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Spray the skillet with nonstick cooking spray before heating the tortilla. Dip each burrito shell in the egg wash and allow the excess to drip off. Heat the shell in the skillet for 30 seconds. Turn the shell over and sprinkle the top with a few tablespoons of shredded Monterey Jack cheese. Cook for 30 seconds on the second side. Immediately slide the shell onto a cutting board, cheese side up. Spoon about ¾ cup of the filling onto the middle of the shell. Fold the end of the shell over the top of the filling, the sides in and roll the burrito to close, seam side down. Carefully slice the burrito in half and arrange on a plate. Top with yogurt sauce and serve with falafel and hummus.

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