Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Playing with textures and flavors

Ever since I had a black bean and sweet potato burrito at Burrito Brothers in Gainesville, no other combination will work for me. It's very rare that you ever encounter a culinary marriage made in heaven like black beans and sweet potatoes. Sure, beans and rice will always taste great together. There's just something about the smokey and sweet/savory taste of a sweet potato coupled with the mellow heat and spice with perfectly seasoned black beans.

I'm learning as I become a more seasoned foodie that textures are also important to me. Gone are the days when I would just inhale my food if the first bite tasted good. I've learned to slow down and enjoy the food for what it truly is, no extra baggage. I found that a lot of the things I used to eat I could never touch again and a lot of the foods I never wanted I crave all the time.

This evening I would have traded my first born for that black bean and sweet potato burrito up in Gainesville. Thankfully, I had both of them on hand. Diego, (my partner in crime) helped me cook and plan out the meal, making all my dreams come true.

The Production - The idea was to utilize what we had on hand, some sweet potatoes, tomatoes, and fresh kale. We wanted to prepare the black beans like traditional Venezuelan caraotas. We loosely based the seasoning choices off of Terry Romero's recipe in Vive la Vegan. The simple green pepper and onion sofrito
adds a sweet savory flavor to the caraotas. I wanted to pair them with fresh tomatoes because I thought the acid from the tomatoes would go nicely with the beans. The sweet potatoes were going to be served on the side with caramelized onions and an herbed butter made out of Earth Balance.

While the sweet potatoes were baking, we prepared the rest of the food. Efficiency is another kitchen virtue I have learned over the years. There's always an order of operations in this kitchen :) Next, I diced some fresh tomatoes and seasoned them with salt, fresh black pepper, fresh thyme and a little bit of olive oil.

With the tomatoes set aside, Diego started the green pepper and onion sofrito mixture. This was sauteed until caramelized lightly to give a sweet smokiness to the beans.

In a separate pan, I began caramelizing the onions.

 * I just really wanted to take a picture of caramelized onions, one of my favorite foods in the world

I took a huge shortcut in Terry's recipe and just used canned black beans. I'm trying my hardest to get away from canned beans once and for all, but I'm a sucker for convenience. I managed to use the three cans as planters for my pepper plant seedlings. So I didn't waste anything this time. The beans only took a short amount of time to heat through and were ready to serve. We decided to try the new Daiya Pepperjack Cheese on top of the caraotas. We also threw together a small batch of roasted Kale chips. I just sprinkled chopped pieces of kale (chip size) with sea salt and black pepper. I very lightly coated them with a mixture of olive oil and balsamic vinegar and them roasted them for 10 minutes or so until they were crispy.

This was the finished plate...

It was even better than that burrito. This was hands down one of the best dishes we've made in a while. It was nice to have so many flavors and textures all in one dish. I think the Daiya cheese was unnecessary but it was fun to try, I think it would go better melted on a burger or a pizza.


  1. I've always wanted to make kale chips, but I am so afraid of the oil. Everything looks delicious! What are those round purple things in the background of the finished product? Plums?

  2. You can totally avoid the oil, all you have to do is season the chips how you like them and lightly cook them in a pan on the stove on low heat. They come out even more crispy and I like them that way. Or you can use a dehydrator. And those are purple potatoes :)

  3. looks super yum! I fell in love with that combo when making Dreena's black bean & sweet potato burritos. They are stellar. I still haven't tried making Kale chips. Yours look perfect!