Black Bean Burritos

We have black bean quesadillas frequently, but rarely branch out to other variations, so I finally decided to be adventurous and try something slightly different.

Using our same quesadilla filling (sauteed onion, diced tomato, black beans) I filled the tortilla and added some cheese (Mexican blend and a little sharp cheddar was what I found as I excavated the fridge). Rolled up, doused with a can of enchilada sauce I found buried in the pantry, and sprinkled with the last of the cheddar cheese, they went into the oven briefly.

Served with salsa and sour cream, these ended up being pretty tasty, though I doubt they’ll take the place of quesadillas for us – those are just such a quick meal and don’t require heating up the oven or cleaning the extra dish. Neither of us were crazy about the green enchilada sauce – it tasted tinny, though I’m not sure if that’s the fault of the brand or the fact that it had been in my pantry for a looooong time.

These would be easier to do for a crowd than the quesadillas though, which we end up fixing one at a time; not a big deal when there are only two people, but not exactly convenient if you’ve got a bunch of hungry people waiting for a meal.

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Mujadarrah (Lentils and Rice with Fried Onions)

I am just about addicted to trying new recipes, and that often involves checking cookbooks out from the library and seeing what catches my eye. I’ll pretty much never buy a cookbook without having tested a recipe or two first, but if I find a book with several winners it quickly finds its way onto my Amazon wish list (which really is just my own shopping list when I come into birthday money).

It’s easy to see why Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone was an award winner – it’s massive and has so much information and so many recipes it’s almost overwhelming. Though I’m not a vegetarian, I do try to cook meat-free several times a week, both for health and budgetary reasons, so I regularly dip into vegetarian and even vegan cookbooks.

I followed Madison’s version exactly the first time, but since then usually triple the amount of onions.
Here’s how I do it:
6 tablespoons olive oil
2 – 3 huge onions, frenched.
1 1/4 cups lentils (I’ve always had brown on hand, but I’m curious to try it with green)
salt
freshly ground black peper
3/4 cup long-grain rice (I’ve used both white and brown).

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until it’s caramelized (stir frequently).

While the onion is caramelizing, bring the lentils to a boil in salted water, then reduce heat to a simmer. After simmering, add the rice, and LOTS of pepper. Add additional water if needed to cover. Cover, reduce heat to low, and continue cooking until the lentils and rice are cooked. For timing this, read package directions to figure out when to add the rice based on how long it will take and how long the lentils will take. I usually simmer the lentils alone for 10 minutes, then add the rice and cook both for another 20.

Once the lentils and rice are done, stir in about a quarter to a third of the cooked onions, cover, and let stand off the heat for a few minutes.

Serve the lentil and rice mixture topped with additional onions. This is fantastic served with a simple cucumber salad.

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