Confession time, this isn’t one of mine. But it does hold a firm place in my heart. A few years back – way back when I was a skinny little 12 year old (where does the time go) we went on a family trip to the States. It was so hot and humid the whole time we were there we could barely move without immediately becoming sticky and tired. About halfway through the trip, our luck changed – we had one cool New York day. We trundled the vintage shops of Ithaca, NY and just appreciated being able to ramble around like normal after so long of being cooped up in the air-conditioned indoors. And on our rambles, we found ourselves getting hungry for the first time in weeks! The heat had messed with our stomachs leaving us with little appetite for more than oat cookies and ice cream (if only I had had knowledge of nice cream back then!).
Anyhow, stomachs started rumbling and legs began to tire – it was time to feed. We soon happened upon the bright and groovy Moosewood Collective, which we’d eventually find out was quite well-known and loved by locals and tourists alike. I can’t remember exactly what I had, but I know one thing for sure – I made a mistake. It was still fantastic whatever it was, but I distinctly remember spending the whole meal glancing jealously at my brother’s loaded plate. He had won. He had gone for the burritos and he had won. And, as if to make things worse, on this rare occasion he even let me sample some of his meal – one bite and I was hooked! How upsetting that I hadn’t managed to make the right call.
Cut a long story short and a few weeks later, back on this side of the pond, mum had an Amazon haul – she’d managed to find the Moosewood Collective’s recipe book. And lo and behold, there was my burrito recipe. We’ve tangled about with it a bit, but it still stays true to the original. Smoky, creamy and very very satisfying. Perfect teamed with big leafy salads and homemade slaw (and of course the cool fresh salsa), it still thrills me whenever I get the chance to make these.
Adapted from Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favourites by the Moosewood Collective
For the burritos
4 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
3 large red onions, roughly diced
4 cloves garlic, crushed
4 tsp ground cumin
4 tsp ground coriander
2 tins black beans, rinsed and drained
1 bunch fresh coriander leaves, torn
Juice and zest of one unwaxed lemon
4 large tomatoes, diced
2 green chillies, finely chopped
Juice and zest of one unwaxed lemon
Small bunch coriander, torn
Prepare the burritos
Put the sweet potato chunks into a medium-sized saucepan and cover with water. Put on the lid and bring to the boil before turning down the heat to simmer. The potatoes should be tender but not mushy – this will take around 8-10 minutes. Once finished, drain them and set aside to cool.
Warm the oil and fry the onions for 5-10 minutes, they should have a bit of bite to them. Crush in the garlic and add the spices, allowing them to fry in the juices from the onion for around 2 minutes, stirring as you go. The whole mix should be lovely and fragrant (and very tempting). Remove from the heat and set aside.
In a large bowl, roughly mash up the black beans. I tend to use the back of a fork, but a potato masher also works well. It’s all about consistency here – you don’t want to mash the black beans beyond recognition (nothing worse than a paste-like burrito filling) – they should still have some texture. Stir in the torn coriander leaves and lemon bits. Finally add the sweet potato and onion and mix roughly – they should be well-combined but not mashed, every texture must remain distinct.
To make the burritos, take the flour tortillas and add two tbsp of the sweet potato mix in the middle in a rough rectangle. Fold up the ‘short’ ends and wrap the two ‘long’ ends to leave a cylinder shape – your typical burrito. Put grease-proof paper down to cover the base of a baking tray and place the burritos in side by side. Cover and seal with tin foil and place in a 200C oven to bake for half an hour. While the burritos are baking, move onto the salsa.
Prepare the salsa
Simply combine all the ingredients together and serve at room temperature. You’ll probably make more than you need, but this is a fabulous accompaniment for tortillas or even goes well over leafy salads and as a sandwich condiment. Just store in an airtight container and remove from the fridge half an hour before you need it to make sure its not too chilled.
When the burritos are done, serve straight away with a generous helping of salsa. These burritos go fabulously with plain rice or salady bits and are fantastic for packed lunches.