Spinach-Cheese Burritos From the Collective

Sometimes people wonder, since I so love to cook and am bold (or stupid) enough to write about it, if I ever (1) completely flub a meal, (2) pick a recipe that just plain sucks, or (3) simply do not feel like making dinner.

Yes, yes and yes.  I am somewhat of an impulsive cook.  That means all three of these things happen with some frequency.  Curse #3 usually leads to #1 or #2, or just ordering out for pizza

My response to these occurrences generally resides somewhere between “oh well, better luck next time” and “I have now dissolved into a sobbing puddle on the kitchen floor”.

Curse #2 came to town last week (followed by a few nights of #3), and oddly enough, the recipe was from one of my recent favorite cookbooks.  The Green and White Bean Gratin from Moosewood Restaurant Simple Suppers simply wasn’t our cup of tea.  It was a texture thing, mostly.  While the flavor was inoffensive, the combination of crispy green beans and mushy white beans just didn’t do it for us.  But I had been looking forward to writing about this book, so I decided to break my own rules and make something else from it before moving on.

Reeling a bit from my lack of judgment, I asked Chris to pick the recipe.  This usually means that he opens the book to a random page, checks to see if it looks good to him, and says, “Ok, make this”.

Luckily he landed on a dish I wanted to try anyway, the Spinach Cheese Burritos.

The Cookbook:  Moosewood Restaurant Simple Suppers

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Moosewood – it’s a collectively owned and operated business in Ithaca, NY.  It started 35 years ago as a small restaurant with a hearty focus on healthy eating.  The restaurant still stands, but has now expanded into a diverse business with more than 10 cookbooks, a consulting firm and a recently developed food manufacturing division.  Bon Appetit magazine named Moosewood one of the top 13 most influential restaurants of the 20th century.

I’ve never been to the restaurant, but would love to make a pilgrimage someday.  Click here to learn more.

This particular cookbook is fabulous because it targets those of us who don’t have all day to work on one of the (delicious but time consuming) recipes from some previous books.  Most of the recipes can be made in less time than it typically takes to order delivery.  They don’t require fancy equipment, and the majority of the ingredients are readily available.

The Recipe:  Spinach Cheese Burritos with Blender Tomato Hot Sauce

Other Menu Items:  Crispy Sautéed Potatoes, Chips & Salsa

Cooking It Up:

Tortillas, and the various meals associated with them, are well loved in our household.  They’re cheap, easy and they last a long time in the fridge (despite my new bad habit of melting some cheese in them and calling it breakfast).  And really, any recipe combining tortillas, spinach, a bit of strategic seasoning and lots of cheese is ok by me.

This dish came together quickly and smelled fantastic.  Though it involves a brief stint on the stovetop, it also bakes for a little while, which means some great hands-off time to wash up the prep dishes (or have a nip of holiday brandy).  The tomato sauce can be made ahead.  The burritos would be excellent with rice and/or beans, but I was trying to use up some potatoes, so there you have it.

Spinach Cheese Burritos (adapted from Moosewood Restaurant Simple Suppers; makes about 6 burritos, depending on how much filling you stuff into each one!)

Preheat oven to 375.  Chop 1 bunch scallions and mince 3 garlic cloves.  Heat 1 TB vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the scallions and cook for about 3 minutes.  Add the minced garlic and cook 1 to 2 minutes more.  Add 10 oz fresh baby spinach.  Cook until the leaves are wilted.  Turn heat up slightly to allow most of the water to evaporate.  Stir in 1 tsp ground coriander, a pinch of nutmeg, 3 oz cream cheese (which does not need to be softened first) and 2 cups grated Cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese.  Remove from heat and stir until cheeses are mostly melted and mixture is combined.  Add salt and black pepper to taste, if desired.

Meanwhile, lay six flour tortillas on a baking sheet (it is fine if they overlap) and heat them in the oven for a minute or two.  This will soften the tortillas so they don’t crack when you fold them.

Place about 1/2 cup of filling on the lower half of a warm tortilla.  Fold the bottom edge up and the side edges in; then roll to enclose the filling.  Place the burritos seam side down in a lightly greased 9 x 13 baking dish.  Brush tops lightly with oil.

Cover dish with foil and bake covered about 20 minutes.  Remove foil and bake an additional 10 minutes to let the tops crisp up slightly.

Serve with salsa or Blender Tomato Hot Sauce (recipe follows).

Blender Tomato Hot Sauce (also adapted from Moosewood Simple Suppers; makes about 2 cups, which is way more than enough for this dish, but seems like it could be easily frozen)

In a large skillet, heat 1 TB olive oil until very hot.  Stir in 1 coarsely chopped onion, and 1 chopped red bell pepper.  Sprinkle with salt.  Cook about 4 minutes on high heat until the peppers are beginning to brown.  Stir in 1 tsp ground cumin, 1 tsp ground coriander, 1 tsp smoked paprika and ¼ tsp either cayenne or chipotle chili powder (or more to taste).

In a blender combine the pepper mixture with 1 15-oz can of tomatoes (undrained).  Puree until smooth.  Transfer sauce back to the skillet.  Add salt to taste.  If you’re a cilantro kind of person, stir in ¼ cup chopped cilantro.  Simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently.  Keeps in the fridge for at least 2 weeks.

The results: Easy, yummy, cheesy vegetarian burritos on the cheap, with a slightly smoky warm tomato sauce that was also delicious on the potatoes.

Until next time,



~ by clevelandkat on December 19, 2010.

3 Responses to “Spinach-Cheese Burritos From the Collective”

  1. So how did you make the potatoes?

    • I peeled them and cut them into small cubes. (Note – not sure if peeling is necessary.) Then boiled them in salted water for a few minutes until almost tender. Then heated some olive oil in a large nonstick skillet and sauteed the potatoes, stirring occasionally, until they were golden brown and crispy on the outside. Seasoned with salt and pepper. Maybe I threw in some chili powder too, since it was a pseudo-Mexican meal, but I’m not quite sure. They turned out pretty well…though I always seem to have the wrong kind of potato for whatever I’m making. Waxy potatoes would have worked best here. Plus I slightly overcooked them during the boiling process so they wanted to fall apart a little bit while sauteeing, but all in all they came out pretty well!

  2. I might try this on gluten free flatbread. The filling with all the delicious cheese should be enough to take away the cardboard flavor of the bread.

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