When my husband and I decided to get in shape and start eating better we looked at what foods we love and if there were options to make them healthier at home. Well, spoiler alert, almost anything you make at home will be healthier than if you order out. One of the things we loved at the time was Chipotle. Specifically their burrito bowls. I started thinking about how I might be able to make these at home as an easy “take to work” lunch. Our first attempt was a disaster. Wet, soggy, and unappetizing. I gave it some more thought, removed one of the ingredients (corn), and re-shuffled the layer order. Presto! We had a winner.
We developed a recipe that could make 10 lunches in advance. So the whole weeks lunches were made before the week began. Our layers were:
- Shredded Greens, spring mix or spinach worked best
- Roma Tomato, sliced
- Shredded Cheese
- Sour Cream
- Protein Mixture
- Brown Rice
Leaving it in layers prevented it from getting soggy and keeping the rice as the final layer meant even if the greens or tomatoes released liquid the rice would still have a nice bite to it.
After moving to the midwest I was home full time and was able to do a lot more cooking. This then lead me to trying our delicious burrito bowl as a wrap so I found a recipe for Pita’s. I though something light and fluffy could add something interesting. So we deleted the rice and did the pitas instead and added peperoncino’s for a little kick. This was a great way to switch it up and emulated something more like a gordita from Taco Bell.
It’s been a while since I made these but being that winter is when I work with beef I thought this would be a great time to try them out again. This time however we used the flour tortillas from the Tacos cookbook as these don’t need any rise time. The still offered the same charred flavor making the pitas gave us. Being that they are both flat breads made in a cast iron pan they weren’t too different in taste. We did discover though that the tortilla seemed more balanced and not so bread heavy as the pita did.
What makes this lunch so nutritious is the meat mixture. This is something I came up with back with the original burrito bowl and it occasion gets a few tweaks but the base is the same. It’s better described as a protein bomb than a meat mixture but either way it’s the real star of this dish.
The Protein Bomb (All weights and measurements are approximate as I tend to just throw things in):
- 1 ½ pounds Lean Beef, cut into small ½ inch cubes
- 2 Kielbasa, sliced and quartered
- 8 ounces Sun-dried Tomatoes, drained and minced (a mini chopper is great for this)
- 1 can Black Olives, drained and minced
- 1 package Tempe, cut into ½ inch cubes
- 1 can Black Beans
- Spice Blend (2 tbsp Dried Oregano, 2 tbsp Paprika, 2 tbsp Ground Cumin, and ½ tsp Cayenne Pepper)
I have a large 14-inch frypan I do this in. I start with heating up the sun-dried tomatoes and olives in the pan, then I add the tempe and kielbasa, I sauté until fragrant and I see the beginnings of caramelization. I then add the beef and the spice mixture, stirring to coat well and brown. I then add the beans and stir until heated through and the liquid from the beans along with the spices make a thick sauce coating everything.
Although none of this is exactly a recipe it’s more of a guideline. It’s an inspiration for you to great the mix and final dish that suits your tastes and desired flavors. You can do anything with this. I have thrown in mushrooms in the past. You could even omit all the meat and add other proteins. In the end We had a dish that was made entirely from scratch that was better than any gordita you could by and even had some serious nutrition added to it.