Amazing Salsa Queso ((lentil)) Burritos, prepare to be shocked!
I love lentils – they can take on any flavor profile perfectly. They can be served cold or warm. They are simple to prepare, inexpensive, heart healthy, vitamin rich & filling. The key to working with lentils is to pay attention to the texture changes as they cook.
There is an interesting thing to take note of in this picture: I thought this frozen meat was ground beef. ((I used some frozen ground beef and frozen ground sausage for a recipe a few weeks ago, had just a little bit leftover…blah, blah, blah. Bottom line, the bag wasn’t labeled. It was not beef, it was Italian pork sausage. Last time I checked, it is hard to turn Italian sausage into a burrito. So I didn’t try to make Italian sausage work & omitted the meat altogether.)) The moral of the story: Label browned ground meat before you stick it in the freezer.
Before you start ‘cooking’ the lentils, roast them with the spices for a few minutes. It’s okay to throw the veggies in the braiser (or skillet) too. By heating up the dry ingredients first – you wake up all the flavors that have been hibernating in your pantry for the last 4.29 months.
In order to turn lentils into a burrito filling, prepare them as if you are making risotto. 1½ cups of lentils needs about 4 cups of liquid, added one cup at a time. As each cup evaporates, add the next cup until the lentils soften and turn creamy in texture. After the 4th cup is absorbed, use a masher to get them extra creamy. This simple process technically over cooks the lentils, but I love the creamy texture – it makes the perfect filling for burritos.
Now at this point, by adding beef stock, I go from a vegetarian, heck – it was vegan, meal to a carnivorous meal. You can certainly sub vegetable stock for beef stock. I used beef because I can trick the kids into thinking beef is the main ingredient and beans are a subtle accompaniment. ((Yes I said beans. If I told the kids they were eating lentils, I am pretty sure their heads would spin-off of their necks, their eyes would flip out of the sockets & they would spew.))
Give the lentils a quick mash. By doing this, the texture turns creamy – similar to refried beans. (Staying true to the bean)
Add 4 ounces of light cream cheese, 4 ounces of hand-shredded extra sharp cheddar & a cup of your favorite salsa – and voila! Salsa Queso ((lentil)) Burritos are served. Isn’t it amazing what 4 little ounces of light cream cheese can do to a meal??
- 1 t canola oil
- 1 1/2 c lentils
- 1 t hatch green chili powder (I prefer mild)
- 1 t hatch red chili powder (I prefer mild)
- 1 t cumin
- 1 medium carrot, diced
- 1 celery stalk, diced
- 1/2 medium sweet onion, finely diced
- 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
- 1/4 t garlic salt
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 4 c beef broth (low sodium)
- 4 oz light cream cheese
- 4 oz sharp cheddar cheese, hand grated
- 1/2 to 1 c salsa (I love Herdez brand)
- In a large skillet, heat oil and add lentils, spices & veggies. Let them heat up a bit to release all their hibernating flavors. Pour broth oven lentils, 1 cup at a time - allowing liquid to absorb and evaporate before adding the next cup. Continue doing this until all liquid is added and absorbed. Add cheeses and salsa. Stir to combine, continue stirring until the lentils have thickened.
- Serve with tortillas and desired garnishes. I kept it simple, sliced olives, more hand-shredded cheese & my favorite salsa.