Cookie and Kate are finally back in the kitchen. I still wasn’t feeling in the mood up until a couple of nights ago, when I spent a few hours cleaning out the cabinets and the refrigerator. Turns out, everyday cooking doesn’t need to involve avalanches of dried pasta. Organization is key.
The past few weeks of kitchen avoidance have been heavy with introspection. I want to say that I’ve come out on the other side with clarity and a renewed zest for life. (Every sad story needs a happy ending, right?) The truth is, I’m still just one sappy coffee shop love song away from another fit of tearful existential despair.
It’ll pass. In the meantime, I’m treating myself right with these burrito bowls. Caramelized sweet potatoes, seasoned black beans and cilantro-spinach brown rice combine in one bowl for a cozy vegan dinner. Oven-toasted pumpkin seeds, avocado and salsa verde make it totally irresistible.
More reasons to love this dish? You’ll have enough time while the sweet potatoes and rice cook to clean the kitchen before dinner’s ready. Oh, and these bowls reheat well for lunch, too. Burrito bowls for the win!
Please don’t be intimidated by the length of the recipe—it’s pretty basic stuff. All you do is blend up the green rice seasonings and toast the rice before cooking it as usual. Roast some sweet potatoes, toast some seeds and warm some beans. Then you arrange it all in a bowl and make it look pretty. Or not. I assure you that my leftovers won’t look as pretty as shown here.
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1½ cups long grain brown rice
- 3 cups vegetable broth
- 1½ cup baby spinach, lightly packed
- ½ cup cilantro (mostly leaves, stems are ok), lightly packed
- 1 jalapeño or serrano pepper, seeded, membranes removed and roughly chopped
- 1 medium shallot, peeled and roughly chopped
- 1 garlic clove, peeled, roughly chopped
- ¼ teaspoon salt, more to taste
- 2 pounds sweet potatoes (3 to 4 medium sweet potatoes), peeled and sliced into 1-inch chunks
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- 2 cans (14 ounces each) black beans or 3 cups cooked black beans, with their cooking liquid
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon sherry vinegar or lime juice
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- ¼ cup pepitas (green pumpkin seeds)
- ¼ teaspoon olive oil
- 1 avocado, pitted and sliced
- Jarred mild salsa verde
- Chopped cilantro
- Crumbled feta (optional, not vegan)
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Line one large, rimmed baking sheet and one smaller sheet with parchment paper. Place the spinach, cilantro, jalapeño, shallot, garlic, salt and ½ cup of the vegetable broth in a food processor or blender. Blend until smooth.
- Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat until shimmering. Add the rice and stir to coat. Spread the rice in an even layer on the bottom of the pot and let the rice lightly brown. This happens quickly! When the rice starts to brown, stir it and spread it out in an even layer again so that more of the rice browns.
- When most of the rice has lightly browned, scrape the green purée into the rice. Stir until the rice is evenly coated with green purée and continue to cook, stirring constantly, for a minute. Add the rest of the vegetable broth to the pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a low simmer and cover the pot. Cook the rice on a very low simmer until tender, 35 to 40 minutes.
- While the rice cooks, toss the sweet potatoes in the olive oil, smoked paprika and salt until the sweet potatoes are evenly coated in oil. Arrange in a single layer on your prepared baking sheet. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, tossing halfway, until the sweet potatoes are tender and caramelizing at the edges.
- Meanwhile, transfer the beans and their cooking liquid (don't drain the beans) to a medium pot. Stir in the cumin and chili powder and warm over medium heat. Once the beans are simmering, cover the beans and reduce heat to maintain a very gentle simmer until you're ready to serve.
- Once the rice is done cooking, remove the pot from heat. Uncover the pot and place a clean terry towel or dish towel over the pot, then recover. The towel will help absorb excess liquid as the rice continues to cook in its own steam. (If you don't have a clean towel, you can skip this step, just cover normally.) Let sit for 10 minutes.
- Once the sweet potatoes are done cooking, toss the pepitas with ¼ teaspoon olive oil and a sprinkle of salt on the small baking sheet. Toast the seeds in the oven for 4 to 5 minutes, until they're turning lightly golden and making little popping noises. Set aside to cool.
- Fluff the rice with a fork and season with salt if necessary. Remove beans from heat, stir in the vinegar and season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Assemble your bowls: First add green rice, then use a slotted spoon or fork to transfer beans to the bowls. Top with sweet potatoes and add a few slices of avocado to each bowl. Sprinkle with toasted pepitas and cilantro and optional feta. Serve with salsa verde on the side.
Change it up: I think butternut squash would be great in place of the sweet potato! You could also substitute another grain for the rice, although you'll need to adjust the cooking method and amount of liquid for said grain.