Where do you call home? Home used to be such a simple concept, but I’ve struggled to define it lately. For the first few years of life, home was where I lived with my parents in a small town near the Oklahoma panhandle. Home had brown tile floors that I tottered across at the heels of my red-haired cousin. My family, friends and belongings were all there. Things got more complicated when we moved to an Oklahoma City suburb and I left for college, but now that I’ve moved out of my home state, I really don’t know what or where home is.
I visited Oklahoma the week before last for the first time since moving to Kansas City. There I was laughing with my dearest friends around a table at our favorite Mexican restaurant, but my old apartment wasn’t mine any more. The town that I had lived in for the past eight years felt like home, once removed. I spent a few nights at my parents’ place, too. They moved to a bigger house after I left for college; I still don’t know where all the light switches are. I suppose it will always be home since my parents are there but it feels a little empty now that my brothers have left the nest, too.
Here I am in Kansas City, which is feeling more like home. Everything has its place now, including Cookie, who is curled up by my feet on our new couch. We can call it home for now, I guess?
I’m not exactly sure what to call this burrito, either. I do love how Mexican food has a different word for every traditional incarnation of tortillas, cheese and fillings/toppings. Burritos, tacos, tostadas, huevos rancheros, quesadillas, nachos: each tasty in its own right.
What we have here is a lightly baked burrito of modest size—a borderline enchilada, really—smothered in a zesty avocado sauce. I wanted to incorporate as much sauce as I possibly could in this burrito, so I just drowned the burrito in the stuff from above. At that rate, eating the burrito required a fork, so why bother rolling in the sides of the tortilla? Might as well sprinkle the insides with cheese and bake it for a few minutes so it all sticks together instead.
I had originally planned to make an avocado crema, but after blending avocados in the food processor, it was evident that puréed avocados from Mexico are plenty rich and creamy on their own. I thought about making a homemade salsa verde but all the tomatillos I could find were subpar this late in the season. I skipped on over to the salsa aisle with an excuse to take a shortcut (who doesn’t like a good shortcut?). At home, I blended the avocados with flavorful salsa verde, fresh lime juice, cilantro and garlic. The end result is an addictive avocado salsa verde reminiscent of the sauce covering my favorite burrito at the aforementioned Mexican restaurant, Pepe’s.
Maybe we don’t need a word for this super fresh burrito-enchilada hybrid after all. It’s good; let’s leave it at that.
- 2 medium sweet potatoes
- 1½ to 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon smoked hot paprika (or chipotle powder)
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne
- sea salt and black pepper
- 4 to 6 whole wheat tortillas
- 2 roasted red peppers (I used jarred)
- 2 cups cooked black beans or 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1+ cup shredded Jack cheese
- 2 ripe avocados from Mexico
- 1 cup mild salsa verde, jarred
- 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
- 1 to 2 teaspoons fresh jalapeño, deseeded and roughly chopped (optional)
- 1 lime, juiced
- ¼ cup packed cilantro leaves
- up to 2 tablespoons water, to thin as necessary
- sea salt, to taste (optional)
- 1½ cups chopped romaine lettuce
- 1 small red onion, finely chopped
- finely chopped jalapeño (optional)
- sour cream
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Scrub and peel the sweet potatoes. Chop them into large, bite-sized chunks, about 1 to 1½-inches wide/long and ½-inch deep. Toss the sweet potatoes with the olive oil, cumin, smoked hot paprika, cayenne pepper and salt and pepper. Make sure they are lightly coated in oil on all sides. Pour the sweet potatoes onto a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Arrange the sweet potatoes evenly in a single layer. Do not overcrowd. Bake for about 45 minutes, flipping the sweet potato chunks halfway, until they are golden and caramelized around the edges.
- Make the avocado sauce: in a food processor or a good blender, combine the avocado flesh, salsa verde, garlic, jalapeño (skip this if your salsa is spicy) and lime juice. Blend. Add the cilantro and blend again. Add water to thin out the sauce if desired; the sauce should glop easily off a spoon. Taste and blend in some sea salt or add another squeeze of lime if necessary. This sauce should taste like a real kick in the mouth; you'll know you're done when you can't stop going in for another spoonful of the stuff.
- Make sure the oven is still on at 450 degrees Fahrenheit.* Place your tortillas on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. In the middle of each tortilla, put down a couple strips of roasted red pepper, then pour ⅓ cup black beans down the center and top it all with ⅓ cup roasted sweet potato chunks. Sprinkle ¼ cup or more of jack cheese on top. Pull one edge of the tortilla over to the center of the burrito, then pull the opposite edge over to overlap a bit. Gently roll the burrito over. Repeat with remaining burritos. Bake your burritos for about 5 minutes on the middle rack, until the cheese is melted and the tortillas are lightly crisp.
- Carefully transfer each burrito to a plate. Smother it in avocado sauce, sprinkle with ample romaine lettuce, some chopped red onion, jalapeño if you'd like and a dollop of sour cream. Go at it with a fork.
- Roast the sweet potatoes ahead of time and warm them up a bit before assembling the burritos for a quick weeknight meal. You could also bake a batch of them and wrap them up for later, reserving the avocado sauce and toppings for the last minute.
- The taste of the avocado sauce is dependent on the type of salsa you use. I recommend a basic, mild salsa verde made with tomatillos.
- The avocado sauce will keep well in a bowl in the fridge for a few days. Cover the surface of it with with plastic wrap to minimize contact with air and help ensure that your sauce doesn't go brown.
- If you have leftover sauce, it doubles as a stellar salad dressing on romaine lettuce.
- *You don't necessarily have to bake these burritos (warm tortilla, black beans and sweet potatoes should melt the cheese) but I preferred the faintly crunchy exterior of the baked burrito.
- This burrito could easily be made vegan by omitting the cheese and sour cream. Still delicious, I promise!
- Peeling sweet potatoes is SO easy with this sharp, cheap little vegetable peeler.
Disclaimer: This is a working partnership with Avocados from Mexico and Muy Bueno Cookbook and I was compensated for recipe development. Opinions expressed are my own, always. The truth is I love avocados!