I spent the summer after my sophomore year of college living Boulder, Colorado. It was a semi-random choice (and one that was definitely questioned by some of my more judgy friends with fancy summer internships), but I felt the need to buck convention and do my own thang.
I had zero plan, no job, and one friend (hi, Phoebe!), but I wasn’t worried. I knew things would totally fall into place when I got there. (This was before I developed an anxiety disorder. Duh.)
And fall into place they did. I took a very prestigious position selling cowboy hats at beer festivals, which combined all of my passions: fashion, booze, and shirtless men. In my free time, I did yoga/read the newly released Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and in the evenings, I drank my weight in hobo sangria while crushing burritos with reckless abandon.
I was young and wild and free.
Being a cowboy hat saleswoman was obviously my priority, but I took the burrito-eating aspect of my life in Boulder pretty seriously. My friend Phoebe and I made it our mission to sample all the burritos the city had to offer and determine which establishment served the very best.
We worked our way through Boulder’s burrito joints one by one, carefully dissecting the quality of their offerings. What was the meat to rice ratio? Was there a fajita vegetables or queso option? Did the guac have tomatoes or red onions? Both? Neither??! How competent was the wrap job? Long and skinny or chode-like? And the tortilla stretchiness? What was the burrito’s internal temperature? So many things to consider!
Once we had sampled a burrito from each of Boulder’s finest purveyors, we went back and tried them all again. You know, just to make sure our assessments were correct.
It was a tough job, but someone had to do it.
For the record, Illegal Pete’s makes the best burrito in Boulder (or they did as of summer 2007). Their ingredients are the freshest, they don’t overdo it on the rice, and they have bomb queso. However, what really sets them apart is the fact that they mix all of your burrito’s ingredients together before wrapping it. This is life-changing because everyone knows there is nothing worse than an all-rice bite. Amiright?
The only drawback to Burrito Fest 2007 was its detrimental effect on my bikini bod. (Un)fortunately, I didn’t notice this at the time, as I was usually seeing myself through hobo sangria goggles, and those bad boys led me to believe that I was nothing short of really, really, ridiculously good looking. Hot damn.
While I haven’t been to Boulder in many years, I still love me a good burrito, and I’m only mildly embarrassed to admit that I have dreams about Illegal Pete’s tortilla-wrapped flavor bombs on the reg. I briefly considered eating my way through all the burritos in NYC to find one equally magical, but I’m far too vain virtuous to put my 27-year-old body through a summer burrito tour. (Plus, I have to set a good example for my roommate/Dude Dieters everywhere.)
So, in order to satisfy my summer burrito cravings responsibly, I decided to whip up this Sweet Potato Burrito Bowl with Summer Vegetables and Quinoa.
First, there’s the fluffy cilantro-lime quinoa with all its glorious superfood qualities. Next, we’ve got antioxidant-rich sweet potatoes, roasted until tender with just the right amount of smoked paprika and cumin. Then comes the festive summer vegetable mix, studded with sweet corn and black beans and seasoned to perfection with your favorite Mexican spices, chopped chipotles in adobo, and fresh lime juice.
I strongly suggest topping each bowl with plenty of guacamole, cilantro, crumbled cotija, and a drizzle of Sriracha for added fun. Prepare yourself, the summer flavor party is definitely on the more mindblowing side of things. Plus…
It’s vegan (if you leave off the cheese)! It’s gluten-free! It’s Dude Diet approved! Take your shirt off!
With a little organization, these badass burrito bowls can be on the table in about 30-40 minutes, and the recipe is easily doubled or tripled to feed a crowd. Cold leftovers (if you have them) are surprisingly awesome (like a fiesta quinoa salad!), but I like to warm them up and get an egg involved for a sexy breakfast. If you must eat meaty, cilantro-lime chicken would be a delightful addition, as would chipotle pork tenderloin or grilled skirt steak.
Oh, and for those who were wondering, my roommate is 100% behind this veggie burrito bowl (shocking, I know). It’s got “so much fucking flavor” and is “so, SO dank.” He insisted that I share these deep thoughts with you because “people really respect his opinion.”
Get down on it.
Sweet Potato Burrito Bowls with Summer Vegetables and Quinoa: (Serves 2)
½ cup uncooked quinoa
1 lime, halved
2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
1 medium sweet potato, cut into ½-inch cubes
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil, divided (Yes, you can use olive oil if you prefer.)
1 teaspoon smoked paprika, divided
¾ teaspoon cumin, divided
½ small red onion, diced
1 small zucchini, quartered lengthwise and sliced into ¼-inch pieces
1 small summer squash, quartered lengthwise and sliced into ¼-inch pieces
½ small red bell pepper, diced
1 ear of corn, kernels removed
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed
1 chipotle canned in adobo, finely chopped
1 tablespoon adobo sauce from the chipotle can
For garnish: (optional)
Crumbled cotija, queso fresco or feta cheese
Hot sauce of your choice (I’m really digging Texas Pete Sriracha CHA right now.)
Preparing your Sweet Potato Burrito Bowls with Summer Vegetables and Quinoa:
-Pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment.
-Place quinoa in a small pot with ¾ cup water. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to a simmer. Cover and cook for 15 minutes until all the liquid has been absorbed. Let the quinoa rest, covered, for 5-10 minutes, then fluff with a fork. Add the juice from half the lime, chopped cilantro, and salt to taste. Set aside and keep warm until ready to use.
-Moving on to the sweet potatoes! Place your sweet potatoes on the prepared baking sheet. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon oil, and sprinkle with ½ teaspoon smoked paprika, ¼ teaspoon cumin, and ¼ teaspoon kosher salt. Toss to coat.
-Add the black beans, chipotle pepper, adobo, and the remaining ½ teaspoon paprika, ½ teaspoon cumin, and a pinch of salt. Cook for 2 minutes and then add the juice of the remaining lime half. Remove from the heat, taste, and season with extra salt if necessary.
-Now it’s time to assemble your badass burrito bowls! Divide the quinoa among two bowls. Add half of the roasted sweet potatoes and summer vegetable mixture to each bowl. Top with fancy garnishes of your choice and go to town.