Sweet Potato–Walnut Burritos
These burritos were originally created to use leftover sweet potatoes and lentils. They were so well liked that we now cook sweet potatoes and lentils just to make the burritos. They can be prepared up to a few hours in advance. Individually wrapped in foil and frozen, they make for an easy meal when you are in a hurry and don’t have time to fuss in the kitchen. Sour cream and/or salsa make nice accompaniments. Serve with rice and a simple salad for a complete meal.
Makes 4 to 6 servings FILLING 1/2 cup green lentils or split peas, sorted and rinsed well 1 large sweet potato (about 1 pound), peeled and cut into 1- inch cubes 2 tablespoons olive oil 1 medium onion, chopped 1/2 teaspoon sea salt 2 garlic cloves, minced 1/2 teaspoon chili powder 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander 1/2 teaspoon Chipotle Paste (page 127) or 1/4 teaspoon cayenne, or more to taste 3/4 cup ground or chopped walnuts, toasted 3/4 cup canned crushed tomatoes 1/2 cup grated Cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese
Shredded cabbage for lining the baking pan 6 8-inch tortillas 1 large tomato, thinly sliced vertically, then halved 1/2 cup grated Cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese Chopped fresh cilantro or parsley (optional)
1. TO MAKE THE FILLING: In a medium saucepan, bring the lentils or split peas to a boil in 11/3 cups water (11/2 cups if using split peas). Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer until they are tender yet firm, 25 to 35 minutes (about 1 hour and 15 minutes for split peas). Drain in a colander and set aside.
2. Place the sweet potato cubes in a pot with just enough water to cover them. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium, cover, and cook at a low boil until they are soft (easily pierced with a fork) yet still hold their shape, about 20 minutes. Drain the sweet potato and place in a large mixing bowl, which will ultimately hold all of the burrito filling. Mash and set aside.
3. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and the salt and sauté, stirring occasionally, until the onion begins to soften, about 2 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium, add the garlic, chili powder, cumin, coriander and Chipotle Paste or cayenne and mix well. Continue to sauté until the onion is translucent, about 6 more minutes. Transfer the onion mixture to the mashed sweet potato and mix well.
4. Add the lentils or split peas, walnuts, canned tomatoes and the 1/2 cup grated cheese to the sweet potato–onion mixture and mix together.
5. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Place a thin bed of shredded cabbage in a 9-x-13-inch baking pan, or coat it with vegetable oil spray, oil, or butter.
6. TO ASSEMBLE: Fill a tortilla with about 1/3 cup of the filling (or more, depending on the size of the tortilla) and roll it securely. Place it seam side down in the baking pan. Follow suit with the other tortillas. Cover the pan tightly with foil. (You can prepare the burritos a few hours ahead up to this point and store at room temperature.) Bake for about 30 minutes, until heated through.
7. Remove the foil from the baking pan. Place 1 or 2 slices of tomato on each burrito. Sprinkle the 1/2 cup cheese over them and then return the pan to the oven for a few minutes, just long enough to allow the cheese to melt. Lift the burritos off the cabbage, place them on a serving platter and sprinkle with the cilantro or parsley, if desired. Serve immediately.
Note: The cabbage keeps the tortillas from lying on the bottom of the pan, which prevents them from getting crisp. It also adds moisture to help steam them.