This season has brought me snow, ice, cold, and a giant food rut. After a few weeks of scrambling to a) figure out what I was craving, then b) find the motivation to feed that craving, I decided this food blogger could do better. I pulled up my favorite pinterest board and grabbed a notepad, and then I did something unusual. I planned out meals for the week.
Before you get any ideas about my organizational prowess, I want to be clear: this was not planning in the sense that full-blown menus were materializing out of thin air, then being shopped for and cooked as scheduled. No, I’d classify this as future-motivation reduction, meaning that if there were food in the fridge, we wouldn’t have to worry about mustering up the desire to cook. Also, we spent $20 on an awesome-quality brisket, $10 on avocados, cilantro, and rice at the supermarket, which divides into $3 per serving, which beats spending $10 on lunch at the deli each day!
The biggest problem for me is figuring out what I can eat for several meals straight without getting bored. There are not a lot of things. So far, I’ve come up with 1) grilled cheese, 2) fried rice or fried quinoa, and 3) Mexican food. So today, I’d like you to meet the brisket burrito bowl, which I officially ate for four lunches and one dinner without wanting to forsake rice, beans, meat, or avocados for the rest of my life.
Though I’ve written notes below focused on how to pack burrito bowls for lunch, they would also make a great casual buffet for friends, set up similar to the peanut noodle party.
**How to Make Burrito Bowls for the Week**
All grains make awesome intentional leftovers, but green rice has a few stand-out characteristics. First, the dish contains vegetables, so you’re not just eating forkful after forkful of carbs, you’re getting herbs and garlic in there too. Second, all those herbs and onions keep the grains moist, so the rice doesn’t try out in the fridge. I cooked a double recipe, which yielded at least 8 cups, plenty as the base of 10 generous lunches.
I love refried beans. They add a welcome heft to this burrito bowl, plus extra protein so you’re not completely reliant on the beef. (That’s really what I love about this set-up: the balance.) I actually boiled up about a 1/2 pound of dried beans from scratch, then pureed them and added them to onions sautéing in oil. Canned beans work too: start with two cans of pureed pinto beans, then dole about about 1/4 cup of beans per bowl.
One of the reasons this dish had such longevity for my fickle appetite was that I didn’t overspice it. In fact, so I wouldn’t get tired of eating it, I kept the brisket plain as can be, modifying the recipe linked to above by throwing in a few cloves of garlic and replacing some of the liquid with a bottle of beer. I used a 2 pound brisket (ask your butcher to cut you off a small piece), and that was more than enough for a meat-light serving on 10 burrito bowls. If brisket isn’t your thing, roast some chicken or tofu.
Spinach with Chipotle
Since I kept the other components pretty plain, I decided to to spice up the spinach. I filmed a big skillet with a bit of olive oil, threw in spinach and let it wilt. When wilted, I sprinkled chipotle chili powder and salt and took off the heat. I used 10 ounces of baby spinach, which wilts down into a decent serving of vegetables for each bowl. You could use more, or sauté a different green, like kale or escarole.
The gem of any burrito bowl is silky, rich, satisfying avocado. I had 3 avocados and used a quarter of avocado as a topping on each bowl. The only trick here is packing–more on that below.
I loved topping my burrito bowls with a few tablespoons of grated cheddar. At work, I microwaved the bowl so the cheddar melted on top of everything. Delicious. But Alex ate his burrito bowls without cheese, so you don’t really want it if you want to cut down on fat or skip the dairy.
Garnish & Packing
When I made these on Sunday night, I packed up six individual portions right then and there. I used shallow plastic containers, easy to slip into tote bags or laptop cases for the commute. Rice went down first, with beans, brisket and juices, and spinach overlapping above it. If you’re using cheese, throw it on. Then garnish with a few sprigs of cilantro.
To make sure that the avocado didn’t brown, and to keep it separate so I didn’t have to microwave it when I warmed the bowl, I kept the avocado quarters in their skin, then squeezed lemon juice and sprinkled salt right on the flesh. I scored the avocado into cubes, then wrapped the quarter in a little bit of plastic wrap and nestled it in the corner of the container. When I went to eat, I removed the avocado, and, when the bowl came out of the microwave, scooped out the pre-scored flesh onto the bowl.