In seventh grade, during bar mitzvah season at my middle school, my friend Leora and I would stake out a spot near the kitchen and grab each hors d’oeuvres first. We knew early that the passed appetizers are often the best part of the meal. But we had a specific reason for filling up before the meal. For dinner, we’d as likely as not be served the kids’ menu, and we were seriously not interested in chicken fingers or mac ‘n cheese or other totally condescending offerings.
Funny that more than a decade later, I adore kid food. I’ll opt for a Shake Shack burger over a sit-down lunch nine times out of ten. And that’s why I loved Catherine McCord’s first Weelicious book and why today’s lunch recipe, which comes from Catherine’s new hardcover, Weelicious Lunches: Think Outside the Lunch Box with More Than 160 Happier Meals, has a place on a a blog for “big kids,” aka twenty-somethings.
Catherine understands the classics. I mean this is a recipe artist who can take a peanut butter and jelly and make it the best sandwich ever, tweak a pizza so it’s simultaneously fun and nourishing, and turn a normally monster-sized burrito into the ideal size for a child’s lunch–or the lunch of someone like me who struggles with the midday meal and is always trying to perfect it. The way I think about it, comforting kid food is the spoonful of honey that makes eating healthful and sustaining foods easier and more fun. Packing a crave-worthy lunch takes the drudgery out of the brown bag.
In Weelicious Lunches, the burrito is a really simple wrap, a bundle of refried beans and gooey cheese easily assembled at home and microwaved at work until melty. I added a quick Brussels sprout hash made from slivered sprout leaves seasoned lightly with some chipotle chili powder and cooked until just tender. They help make the wrap into a balanced meal you can hold in your hand, since you just might not be packing bright and healthful vegetables to go in the side, as in Catherine’s kids’ lunchboxes.
Lunchtime Burritos with Chili-Spiced Brussels Sprouts
Makes 2 burritos
Adapted from Weelicious Lunches by Catherine McCord
One 14-ounce can pinto beans
2 tablespoons safflower or olive oil
1/4 onion, chopped
5 large Brussels sprouts, trimmed, outer layer removed, thinly sliced
1/8 teaspoon chipotle chili powder (or regular chili powder), or a little more to taste.
2 whole wheat tortillas
1/4 cup grated mozzarella or cheddar cheese
Puree the beans in a food processor. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 4 minutes. Add the pureed beans and cook, stirring frequently, until thickened, 15 minutes. Season with 1 teaspoon salt before serving.
Meanwhile, in a second pan, heat 1 tablespoon oil and add the shredded Brussels. Cook until wilted and almost caramelized, about 10 minutes. Season with the chili powder and some salt and set aside.
Spread half the beans on each tortilla and sprinkle with the Brussels, then the cheese. Roll into burritos, folding in the edges as you go. Before eating, toast in a pan or microwave to melt the cheese, if desired.