So I think I already made it clear that I was a horribly picky eater as a kid.
And while I got a little better with each passing year, it wasn't until I went to college that I truly broadened my culinary horizons.
Part of the reason for that was the fact that my two best friends there were both vegetarians. Nat and Flav Vittles taught me that tofu can actually be delicious (except when its in the form of a Thanksgiving "tofurky"...ick!) and that you don't have to have meat to have a meal.
Not that this was totally news to me, or that I was some kind of meat freak before. However, it did make me think outside the box and adapt some of my go-to recipes to be more vegetarian friendly.
You know, eggplant parm instead of chicken parm... meatless chili... Italian wedding soup minus the mini meatballs, and with VEGETABLE broth instead of chicken broth (yes I made that mistake, unfortunately.)
But I have especially embraced vegetarian Mexican by replacing chicken and beef with black beans.
Oh my. Let's talk about black beans.
Not only are they super tasty, they are also full of good-for-you things like fiber and protein. And usually my favorite foods are not very healthy, so this is a welcome change for me :)
Now thankfully Mr. Vittles enjoys black beans as much as I do... Although I don't really enjoy the after-effects of black beans when it comes to Mr. V, if you catch my drift.
Sadly, I often catch a drift as well. Eww.
But anyway, we eat a lot of Mexican around here and I get sick of making everything with chicken and beef.
Or... sometimes I'm just out of meat and I'm too lazy to go to the grocery store :)
Which was the case when I got inspired the other night to try my hand at making flautas. So, I was on the hunt not only for a meatless recipe, but also one that could be baked instead of fried (as we have not eaten so great the past few days).
My search led me to vegetariantimes.com (which seems like a pretty cool website, by the way) where I found a recipe for Oven-Crisp Black Bean Flautas.
Bingo! And just in time for Cinco de Mayo :)
But of course, I couldn't let the recipe be too healthy. So I took out the corn (didn't have any of that either), added a little shredded cheese & salt, and lightly brushed the tops of the flautas with canola oil before baking.
Don't you dare try to burst my 'healthy' bubble, people. At least I'm not frying them in 1/4 inch of oil!
Anyway, since it's just the two of us and I didn't think these would be great as leftovers, I halved the recipe. It made 5 flautas for me, but I like to load in the filling so you could probably make 6 if you're frugal.
Also, just a general FYI for you - I often substitute onion powder for minced onions because onions do very bad things to my eyes and sinuses! I know it's not uncommon to get teary when cutting onions, but trust me when I say I am more sensitive to the little devils than most. I'm surprised I haven't lost a finger yet.
Well, let's not lie, that's partially due to my klutziness :( But seriously, my eyeballs & onions are just not friends.
So ... I generally try to avoid them, unless they are one of the main features of the recipe (ie Fresh Pico de Gallo Salsa).
But if you prefer fresh (or if you have these sweet onion cutting goggles & can chop away unaffected!) then you can mince half a medium onion instead of using the powder, and cook it along with the garlic.
Oven-Crisp Black Bean Flautas
- 1 t. olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 15 oz. can black beans, rinsed & drained
- 1/2 t. onion powder
- 1 t. chili powder
- 1 T. chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 10 oz. can mild Rotel diced tomatoes & chiles, drained
- 1/4 t. salt
- 1/2 C. Monterey Jack cheese (or whatever type you prefer)
- 5 10" flour tortillas
- canola oil, for brushing
Add 1/2 C. water along with beans, onion powder, chili powder and cilantro. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer about 10 minutes until most of water is evaporated.
Remove pan from heat and smash beans with back of spoon or immersion blender until mixture is thickened but still chunky, with some whole beans left. Stir in salt & Rotel, and allow mixture to cool.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Coat baking sheet with cooking spray, or line with nonstick foil.
Microwave tortillas in 10 second intervals until soft & pliable. Spoon a heaping 1/3 C. mixture in a line down center of each tortilla and sprinkle cheese on top.
Fold in sides on either end of the line, and then roll tortilla tightly around filling. Secure end with a toothpick and set on baking sheet with seam side down.
Using a pastry brush, lightly brush the tops of the flautas with oil and place baking sheet in oven until crisp, about 10 minutes. Serve with guacamole, sour cream, and/or salsa. (I would also recommend cutting them in half to let them cool... the filling stays really hot in the enclosed tortilla!)
Recipe Adapted from Vegetarian Times