Thursday, October 3, 2013

Chimichurri Burrito Bowl

It's probably lucky that I have to ride my bike for a solid five minutes and across a few pesky traffic lights to get to Chipotle. I'm minorly obsessed with simple, Mexican-style food at reasonable prices, but the trek is sometimes a little too much for a straightforward and easy meal.

Thankfully for my wallet and waistline, I simply don't have enough time to head over to the Chipotle down the street. However, since I've been craving some burrito bowl action, I decided to take matters into my own hands--with a DIY burrito bowl.



For a few weeks, I've contemplated exactly how I'd attack it. There's the obvious cilantro lime rice, the black beans, the lettuce, and the avocado, but what else? I floundered for a few weeks, ignoring the obvious and basic salsas, until a friend sent me this link to an Avocado Chimichurri Bruschetta recipe. And then, that was that. The very next day, this creation was made: the Chimichurri Burrito Bowl. Armed with my roommate D's fancy camera, I set out to share this creation with the world... but mostly with my stomach.

For those of you who have yet to experience the deliciously amazing world of chimichurri, let me give you a brief rundown. It's an Argentinian sauce used for flavoring foods, similar to salsa. Straightforward, right? Nobody knows exactly where the name comes from, but everyone thinks that the British bastardized some Spanish words to create the name. (Thanks, Wikipedia!)

Now that you know, it's time to get cookin'.


You will need:
 -1 cup of dry black beans
 -1 cup of dry white rice
 -2 tbsp + 1 tbsp of lemon juice
 -2 tbsp red wine vinegar
 -3 cloves of garlic, minced
 -1/2 tsp salt
 -1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
 -1/2 tsp dried oregano
 -1/4 tsp ground black pepper
 -1/4 cup of olive oil
 -1/2 cup + 1/4 cup of chopped cilantro
 -1/4 cup of chopped parsley
 -1/2 avocado
 -2 handfuls of lettuce

If you're smarter than me, you'll get your beans cooking as soon as possible, or you will buy them pre-cooked. I thought I'd be thrifty and buy the dry beans, so I had to go through the process of rinsing, soaking, rinsing again, then cooking. If you do this, just follow the instructions on the bag and account for time. Mine took about an hour and a half to two hours, so plan accordingly.


You'll start by roughly chopping your parsley and 1/4 cup of cilantro for the chimichurri. You want the chimichurri to sit for an hour or two to let the flavors truly mingle. While this may seem a bit unnecessary, it's completely worth it.


Very simply, you'll whisk together the lemon juice, vinegar, oregano, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, and garlic in a bowl. I used a big bowl because the bowls in our kitchen come in two sizes: tiny or huge, and I thought huge would be tidier than tiny. That's decent logic, right?

Next, whisk in the olive oil gradually. Pour in a little bit at a time, whisk it all around, then pour some more. It should take at least a full two minutes.


Once that's all incorporated, stir in the parsley and your 1/4 cup of oregano. Mix it all together really well, then pop it into the fridge until it's time to assemble the meal. Isn't that easy now?


Once your beans have about thirty minutes left of cooking time, you can get started on your rice. Bring 1 and 3/4 cups of water and 1 tbsp of lemon juice to a boil, then add a cup of dry rice. Follow the directions on your bag, but it'll probably tell you to simmer, covered, for about twenty minutes. Once it's cooked, uncover it, and stir in your remaining 1/2 cup of chopped cilantro. The heat from the rice will wilt it a little, but the cilantro will release its delicious flavors even more.

Now, it's assembly time. See, wasn't that fast?


Throw two healthy handfuls of lettuce into a bowl. I used another gigantic bowl, just so I could mix around all the ingredients once I started consuming my meal. On top of the lettuce, place about 1/2 cup of cooked rice. Marvel at how awesome it already looks.


On top of the rice, add about 1/2 cup of cooked and (mostly) drained black beans. Keeping a little bit of the juice adds a nice depth, I think, to the acidity and kick of the chimichurri.


Now, spread a heaping spoonful of chimichurri atop your creation. Don't worry about mixing it all together just yet, since you'll plonk half a sliced avocado on top of it all. Sprinkle with black pepper and you're set!


Of course, burrito bowls are meant to be enjoyed all cut up and mixed together! The chimichurri acts as a really delicious and acidic dressing for all the ingredients, and the avocado lends a creaminess to the dish. Add that to the clean crispness of the lettuce, the starchiness of the rice, and the protein of the beans, and you've got one heck of a meal.

Once I had taken a few bites and realized I hit a home run with this recipe, I went straight across the hall to make my friends try it and tell me what they thought. Two brief quotes: "Yum. Literally the only word I can use for this. Yum." and "This is definitely the best thing you've ever made that I've eaten".

What definitely tied the burrito bowl together was the chimichurri. Without it, the bowl would have been a dry, sad excuse for a pseudo-Mexican meal. The sauce elevated it to an awesome level, part salad dressing and part salsa. It does have a bit of a kick, but I can easily imagine it in a grilled cheese sandwich, or taking the place of pesto in a pasta dish.


Naturally, my burrito bowl was consumed tidily and gracefully (ha) right before hockey practice. I had just enough time to finish eating and put away the leftover beans and rice for another burrito bowl... which, let's face it, will probably happen tomorrow. Just pop the beans and rice in the microwave for twenty or thirty seconds to warm them up and you're back in business.

All in all, a delicious, straightforward, and cost-effective meal that will definitely provide plenty of leftovers for the week's remaining lunches and dinners.

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