Red Bean Vegetarian Burrito and Why not to kill a Mocking Bird.

COURAGE is not a man with a gun in his hand. It is knowing you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and see it through, no matter what – Atticus Finch.

Red bean burrito

Red bean burrito

Some writers impress, some inspire while some simply fade away in the light of day. But Harper Lee, with just one glorious book under her belt, sits firmly in my head – bag, baggage and all. I just can’t seem to replace her. A lot many others try to occupy the coveted seat, but she just won’t budge.

‘To kill a Mocking Bird’ is not an ordinary book. And Atticus Finch is no ordinary hero. The book is a bolt of lightning. A revelation. And Finch’s kindness, courage and tenacity – invigorating.

To each his own

To each his own

Now what does a burrito have to do with Finch, courage or any mocking bird. Well.

I introduced the story to my eight year old this summer in her holidays. And although she seemed more fascinated with Scout and Boo and the title itself, it was Atticus Finch’s character that the relentless mother chose to dissect. Now, at our own very personal level thus began a truly interesting character dissertation of Mr. Finch. All this, while we prepped lunch using whatever we could find in the pantry. The detailed explanations were simplified for her unpolluted mind. What does an 8 year old know about racism or tolerance or black or white or courage without a gun? Though exhausting, the discussion was a revelation.

Tomato salsa

Tomato salsa

Untainted, pure minds have the most basic humane questions, to which, mostly you will have no answers. It is the way it is, was all that I could say. Their usually winged imagination falls short when human nature is in context. To explain that it takes more courage to stand up for your beliefs than to hold a gun was an insightful discussion for both of us.
At one point, I felt I rather stop, maybe I’m destroying her innocence. But I wasn’t.

Innocence is not crushed by an honest dialogue, rather it is enlivened and enlightened. It was a good thing that the deep discussions were laced with good food. This way you make happy memories and remember things for a longer time. She associates salsa and beans and guacamole with so many aspects of the book. Somehow, the food rendered the analysis less morbid, less sad and more hopeful. While little hands assembled the wrap, the mind too voiced it’s own opinions. How she would have punished Bob for being ‘so bad’ and how Tom would not die and how she would like to smack some more sour cream if I let her.

As you like it

As you like it

A red bean burrito is as satisfying to prepare and enjoy as it to read a well written book. Well, almost šŸ™‚

The recipe:

To make 4 burritos –

Ingredients

4 flour or corn tortillas
8-10 tablespoons of red beans corn mix(recipe below)
4 tablespoons of guacamole
4 tablespoons of sour cream
4 tablespoons of tomato salsa
4 tablespoons of cabbage onion salad
a handful of olives and jalapeƱos for taste.
lime wedges, tomato salsa and hot sauce to serve

For the Red Bean Vegetable Mixture:

1. 1 cup boiled red beans or rajma
2. 1/2 cup sweet corn
3. 1/4 cup chopped peppers
4. 1 tsp minced garlic and ginger
5. 1 big onion, chopped
6. salt, pepper powder and paprika according to taste
7. 1 tbsp olive oil

Method

For the red bean mix –
In a skillet, heat oil, sautƩ ginger garlic and onions, till they sweat and turn pink. Add chopped peppers and corn. Stir fry for a couple of minutes. Then add boiled beans along with salt, pepper powder and paprika. Mix well. Coarsely mash with the back of the ladle. Remove from flame. Keep aside to cool.

To assemble:
Take one tortilla, spread 2 tablespoons of red bean mix lengthwise in the centre. Top with guacamole, salsa, red cabbage salad and sour cream – all one tablespoon or more. Garnish with olives, jalapeƱos and a dash of lime. Fold and serve immediately with more salsa n cream!

stack, smear, dollop

stack, smear, dollop

Note: You can add any other vegetable with red beans if you like. Broccoli, zucchini or tofu will be equally delicious

Note: Cheese lovers – grate some up before the final folding.

Note: The cabbage onion salad is nothing but thinly sliced veggies marinated in little salt and lime juice for an hour.

A bit of hot sauce to liven it all up

A bit of hot sauce to liven it all up

I asked for the moral of the story in one or two lines only.
And this is what she said – To not be bad like Bob and to be good and courageous like Atticus. Hmm…. I think she got that right?

Good to go

Good to go

I painted a pretty decent picture without stressing on the heart breaking pathos of the story but I’m glad I introduced it to her this early. Later at every stage when she reads it, the book will reveal something new to her, as it still does to me.
It’s quite magical, isn’t it?!… This process of reading.

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Red Bean Corn Quesadilla

Have you ever wondered that there are more same gender families than the ones with both girls and boys. Like more people have all girls or all boys. Growing up with the commoness has some real intricate implications, which forms the basis of your entire life. Usually.

My house homed giggling, naive, shopping, merry, fighting, expressive girls, who never failed to assert our feelings for each other. Whereas the better half belongs to a serious boy gang of 4! Stoic, reserved, tight lipped, the boys went about their life, without interfering much in the other. I found it so weird.
Husband reminisces, one of the few things that they ever bonded over was …food.
Well, the way to these boys hearts was surely through their stomachs. But you know how it is when you have 4 teenage boys who play football and are forever hungry. Oh! I would never want to be in my mother in laws shoes – ever.

Now, that they are much older with work taking priority, the food bit seems to fade. But, I have this one particular brother in law who is a treat to feed. Being the eldest, he had big responsibility to shoulder. Giving up his dreams and passion to make a lucrative career took over and some where the love for food paled.
Ever since, big brother started visiting Mumbai for work, little brother re ignited the man’s love for taste. Goading me to try something new and serve him every time he came over. I did it hesitatingly first, but, to my surprise he turned out experimental, curious and extremely accommodating. Perfect for someone like me, who has her decent share of mishaps in the kitchen. I love to cook. He loves to EAT. Splendid. What more could I ask for.

And of course, Super touched by my man’s expression of affection towards his brother. Now, this I can relate to.

One of brother in law’s all time favorite are crisp, veggie stuffed quesadillas. Apart from satiating his taste buds, the guy also has a festish for all things healthy. Its always a challenge to make something nutritious yet yumm.

Bean Corn Quesadillas with fresh salsa

Bean Corn Quesadillas with fresh salsa

Red kidney beans, corn and mozzarella layered between two thin tortillas, and roasted to golden brown. Oh so yumm! This crisp finger food needs no dipping sauce or sour cream. But I did have tomato salsa faithfully sitting by its side… which was never scooped up with a quesadilla but with corn chips.

Protein enriched rajma enveloped in tortillas

Protein enriched rajma enveloped in tortillas

These are essentially mexican appetizers, but they can make a decent meal in themselves when served with some soup or a light salad.

bean, corn, cheese - yummilicious

bean, corn, cheese – yummilicious

No more chatting, a delish gooey cheesy recipe awaits:

To serve 2 people –

Ingredients

4 flour tortillas or thin Indian flatbread/Chappathi

For the filling:

  • 1/2 cup red kidney beans or rajma, soaked and well boiled
  • 1/2 cup corn
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2-3 green chilies, minced – optional
  • 2 tbsp spring onion greens or chopped coriander leaves
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp olive oil + little more for roasting the quesadilla
  • salt to taste
  • 4 tbsp tomato salsa
  • 4 tbsp grated mozzarella – or as you like it. More the better for me šŸ™‚

Method

In a pan, heat oil, saute the garlic, green chilies and onions. Once pinkish, add the corn and beans. Sprinkle salt, oregano and the chopped greens(spring onions or coriander). Mix well. Keep aside.

when ready to serve:
Take a tortilla, spread salsa on half of it. Place 2-4 tbsp of the filling on the applied salsa. Spread a tbsp of grated mozzarella. Fold the other side and make a semi circle. Press the corners tightly, so that when you roast, the stuffing doesn’t fall out. Now with the help of little olive oil, roast on a hot flat griddle, from both sides till crisp.

Once done, cut into neat triangles and serve with any sauce or sour cream by the side.

Roasted to golden brown perfection, with very little oil

Roasted to golden brown perfection, with very little oil

You could alternatively, spread the filling on an entire whole tortilla, then cover it with another tortilla and roast it from both sides. But in this case, you need to be super careful when you pick up the assembly to roast on the griddle. It tends to all fall apart. So its you’re call and experience basically.

Gooey Cheese oozes its way out

Gooey Cheese oozes its way out

You could use fresh kidney beans or rajma or from the can. The fresh one is healthier but canned version is faster.

Fresh tomato salsa served on the side..

Fresh tomato salsa served on the side..

Done with dinner, the brothers stand staring out in to the star studded sky. No talk, no discussion, no laughter, no fight… but plain pure peace. Silence can convey more affection than a thousand words of love. I get that now.