Sunday, August 24, 2014

Frugal Entertaining ... Burrito Bowls

We eat a plant based diet, but most of our friends do not. In the past we struggled with how to feed people that we thought would be expecting meat as part of a meal (we were vegetarian for 12 years, ate small amounts of fish for another 6 years, and then ate meat for almost 6 years before going 100% plant based). I'll admit that it affected our social lives and our wallets; we didn't feel comfortable asking people to come over and share a meal that didn't include meat so we often went to restaurants instead.

We're over that now. We eat the way we eat and people always have the option of declining a dinner invitation. I don't find that they often do.

One meal that I like to serve is burrito bowls, similar to what you might find at Chipotle. I make pinto beans (cooked with garlic) and brown basmati rice (seasoned with garlic, onion, salt, pepper, and New Mexican chili powder) as the main two components of the bowls, and then add a variety of toppings. We might have sautéed greens or diced zucchini, roasted red pepper and onion strips, lettuce, sliced black olives, a pepita-based cilantro cream sauce, and salsa, depending on what it available.

These are one bowl/plate meals; the protein, starch, and vegetables are all mixed together. I set up everything in my kitchen so everyone can make their burrito bowl exactly how they want it, then we gather around the tables to share our meal.

One thing I have heard when serving this meal is how nice it is to have a plant based meal that isn't based around an imitation meat, and I must say that I agree. A lot of meat eaters are very wary of imitation meats anyway. Another person remarked how the cilantro cream sauce (with no cream in it) was so flavorful and creamy that she didn't even miss having shredded cheese or sour cream.

But even if you do eat meat this can be a very inexpensive meal to entertain with. In the past I would slow cook a pork shoulder (very cheap!) and shred it for the bowls. It's also a great potluck meal; you can cook the beans (or meat), vegetables, and rice and ask others to bring the various toppings, or you can even ask someone to bring the rice, as I sometimes do.

Variations on this meal could be to have tostadas or actual burritos in tortillas.

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