A Facebook friend asked me recently if I had a list of my favorite recipes, and I was sorry to say that I didn’t. But what a good idea! Or so I thought, until I started to name all the recipes I considered favorites and found that the list would be so long that it would be useless. So I decided to reshape the question: Which recipes do I make over and over again? I decided to focus on the recipes I actually make week-in and week-out plus a few that I make regularly for holidays or special occasions, such as green bean casserole for Thanksgiving.
After I thought of it like that, my list became both much shorter and much less fancy. It includes the Dirty Little Secret Soup that I make once a week (a little differently each time), the chickpea “tuna” salad I pack in my daughter’s lunch, and at least 4 different kinds of split-pea soup. All have been thoroughly tested and are dishes that we–teenager included–love. You can see the full list of my family’s favorites here (it’s now a regular category in the recipe index).
As I was making the list, I asked my husband to help me think of every meal we eat regularly, and I was a little surprised to discover that several of the dishes in our regular rotation haven’t appeared on the blog. I guess I’ve been so busy trying to feature new recipes that I haven’t bothered with the very simple, stand-by dishes that make up a big part of our diet. So I’ve decided to rectify that. For the next three weeks, I’ll be adding a new “old” recipe each week. I’ll reveal what food we always travel with and tell you how to make the vegetable-rich pasta dish my daughter loves.
My first old favorite reveals another “dirty little secret” of my family’s eating habits: about once a week, we eat burritos for dinner. On really rushed nights, we rely on canned fat-free refried beans (I know, I know–sodium and BPA, but we’re talking emergency meals) and wrap them in whole wheat tortillas along with lettuce, tomatoes, red onions, jalapenos, and my daughter’s specialty, guacamole (there’s another recipe I’ve never posted.) But when I have leftover brown rice, I skip the refried beans and throw together this easy vegan Spanish rice. It makes a great burrito filling or side dish and doesn’t take much longer than heating up a can of beans.
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 green or yellow pepper, stemmed, seeded and chopped
- 1/2 - 1 jalapeno chile, stemmed, seeded and finely diced (add more or less to taste)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 cups cooked brown rice
- 1 1/2 cup diced tomatoes (fresh or canned fire-roasted, liquid reserved)
- 1 1/2 cup black beans (or 1 15-ounce can), rinsed well
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ancho chili powder (or other pure, mild chili powder)
- 1/2 teaspoon chipotle chili powder (or more, to taste)
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Heat a deep, non-stick skillet over medium high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until it begins to brown. Add the pepper, jalapeno, and garlic, and cook for another 2 minutes, taking care not to burn the garlic. Add the remaining ingredients, stir, and cook, stirring frequently, for about 15 minutes. If it becomes too dry, add a little vegetable broth or reserved tomato juice. Check the flavor, and add salt and additional seasonings to taste.