Friday, June 28, 2013

Collard Green Burritos and Black Bean stuffed Potatoes With a Vegan Queso Cheese

I posted a few pictures of my dinner on Facebook, because... well because my kids haven't done anything particularly cute today and that's what Facebook is for. The response was a resounding, "GIVE ME THAT."

 As one of the people who got to eat this tonight, I couldn't agree more.

 I kind of got myself into some trouble by saying to my husband as he was leaving for work this morning, "When you get home tonight, I will have a delicious dinner ready for you." This was unwise, A.) because we usually get take and bake pizza without cheese on Fridays and I get the night off cooking, and B.) because I set pretty high standards for myself on a regular dinner, and the added stress of saying it would be special was unbearable.

 The only thing to do was really blow the roof off dinner.

The finished product (before becoming the finished product in our bellies)

I began thinking about this nacho-y cheese that I learned how to make at a fun cooking class at Radical Eats on Wednesday.  If you live in Houston and you want to learn to make yummy vegan food, I highly recommend these free classes held on the last Wednesday of each month.  You go and order dinner, get a free class, and samples of all the good food.  This week was all vegan cheeses and she did the great cashew and nutritional yeast blend that most vegans are familiar with, then she did an unbelievably simple one from Daiya cheese, Tofutti sour cream, and a little red bell pepper and salt and water to blend it.  I keep thinking about this cheese...  I considered nachos but since my husband loves pototoes I opted for roasted red potato halves topped with refried black beans and then the cheese sauce and green onions.  I also wanted a collard green wrapped burrito, mostly because I had a ripe mango that needed to be salsa.

I halved my red pototoes, sprayed them with spray coconut oil, and sprinkled with salt.  I put them in a 400 degree oven face down (flat side down) for about 20 minutes, then turned them over, added a bit more salt, and baked for probably 15 minutes more.  

While my potatoes were cooking, I got to work on the burritos.  I made my general "mom pilaf" in that I take whaever veggies desire to be cooked and mix them with a grain.  I had some beautiful rainbow quinoa that I love and knew would cook quickly, so I started by looking for what veggies I'd like with it.  I had the stems from a bunch of kale since I had a batch of kale chips in the dehydrator, and I grabbed a carrot and the end of a red onion that was sitting in the refrigerator as well.  I had some fresh salsa that needed to be used as well.  

I chopped my kale stems, carrot, and onion in small pieces and put in a pot with a little olive oil and sauteed briefly before adding the quinoa, water, and salsa.  I also added some garlic salt and "Organic No-Salt" from Costco which has a good blend of Mexican flavor.  I let that boil and then covered and turned off and ignored it while I trimmed off the stems of the collard greens and steamed them.  I let both these things cool off while I made mango salsa.

My mango salsa was just a mango, a lime, an avocado, a little red onion, a quarter of poblano pepper, and a handful of cilantro with a bit of salt.  I chopped up everything but the lime and tossed together.  

My daughter "helped" assemble in that she told me the order to put the two ingredients on and sampled all parts for quality control.  Everything was up to snuff.  

Once the burritos were done, I finally scooped about a Tbsp of black beans on each one, put them back in the oven, and turned it off.  The potatoes were crispy and I didn't want my beans to dry out, just warm through.  

I mixed up my cheese sauce while the beans were warming through, and basically followed the recipe except I added some salsa instead of water.  That was added at the end for garnish.

It worked!  My husband came home from work to an amazing meal, we had a nice dinner, went for a swim, and now he's attempting to put our son to bed while I mess about with my blog.  I can't imagine it going better.

Some tips:

*The mango salsa recipe can be blended smooth and it makes a wonderful sauce that is sweet, spicy, and tangy.  It's good on stuff, but you'll probably just want to drink it.  

*Steam your collards just until they are flexible and bright green.  You loose flavor and nutrients once they turn brownish.

*When I do rolls in collard greens, I always trim the stem off, and slice the vein down the center so that it's flush with the leaf.  I also make a point to roll the bottom in first, so the outside just has the nice thin tip of the leaf and it sits flat and stays rolled much easier.

*Always save stems and bits for pilaf.  It's a great way to use up the parts that aren't pretty.  Broccoli stems are another great addition to a pilaf like this.  You could also just as easily skip the sautee part and leave out the oil.

*If you don't have plans for dinner except that someone else was going to take care of it for you, maybe don't talk up a big meal.

This meal was gluten free and I wasn't even trying!  Gluten free vegan is not an impossible task, it's a fun challenge!  We aren't gluten free, but just making some fun substitutions like collard greens for tortillas is a way healthier option and you get the benefit of simply making something GF.  

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