Brown Rice Burrito Bowl

Why This Recipe Works:

A good burrito is all about the filling; layers of spicy, smoky flavors work together in a cohesive whole. We wanted to take the burrito out of its wrapper and put the filling in a bowl to allow each of its elements to shine in a balanced dish. We chose brown rice as the base of our bowl for its nutty flavor and hearty texture. While the rice boiled away on the stove, we seared our vegetables in batches in a skillet for just the right color and char, building flavor in the pan with each batch. Fresh corn provided sweetness and pops of crunch, and poblano peppers offered a subtle background heat. Black beans, cooked with sautéed aromatics, gave our bowl heft and substance. Seasoning the cooked rice with lime, cumin, and coriander brought classic burrito flavors center stage, and finishing the dish with chipotle sauce lent it creamy, smoky richness. With this warm, hearty bowl, we may never wrap burritos again. Serve with avocado, red onion, pico de gallo, and/or lime wedges.

Serves 4 to 6
• 1½ cups long-grain brown rice, rinsed
• Salt and pepper
• 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
• 1 tablespoon lime juice
• 1½ teaspoons ground cumin
• 1½ teaspoons ground coriander
• 2 ears corn, kernels cut from cobs
• 3 garlic cloves, minced
• 3 poblano chiles, stemmed, seeded, and cut into ½-inch pieces
• 1 onion, chopped
• 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed
• 1 recipe Creamy Chipotle Sauce (recipe follows)
• ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro

  1. Bring 4 quarts water to boil in large pot. Add rice and 1 tablespoon salt, return to boil, and cook, stirring occasionally, until rice is tender, 25 to 30 minutes. Drain rice. Meanwhile, whisk 2 tablespoons oil, lime juice, ½ teaspoon cumin, ½ teaspoon coriander, ¼ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper together in large bowl. Stir in hot rice and toss to coat. Cover to keep warm.
  2. While rice cooks, heat 1 tablespoon oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Stir in corn, ¼ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper and cook until spotty brown, about 3 minutes. Transfer to second bowl and cover to keep warm.
  3. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in now-empty skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Stir in 2 teaspoons garlic, remaining 1 teaspoon cumin, and remaining 1 teaspoon coriander and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in poblanos and cook until charred and tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer to third bowl and cover to keep warm.
  4. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in now-empty skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and cook until softened and just beginning to brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in remaining garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in beans, ¼ cup water, and ¼ teaspoon salt and bring to simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until beans are warmed through and most of liquid has evaporated, about 2 minutes.
  5. Divide rice among individual bowls, then top with poblanos, corn, and beans. Drizzle with chipotle sauce, sprinkle with cilantro, and serve.

Creamy Chipotle Sauce *  makes about 1/2 cup

We prefer the flavor and consistency of Tofutti Better Than Sour Cream. Other dairy-free sour creams will add their distinctive flavor and you may need to adjust the consistency with water.

• ¼ cup vegan mayonnaise
• ¼ cup dairy-free sour cream
• 1 tablespoon lime juice
• 1 tablespoon minced canned chipotle chile in adobo sauce
• 1 garlic clove, minced

Combine all ingredients in small bowl. (Sauce can be refrigerated for up to 4 days.)

Creamless Creamy Tomato Soup

Why This Recipe Works:

Creamy tomato soup is a rainy-day favorite, so we wondered if we could develop a comforting recipe with velvety smoothness and a bright tomato taste—without cream. Most recipes for tomato soup pack in so much of the stuff that they’re more pink than red, which is fitting because missing too is rich, tangy tomato flavor.

For our creamless vegan soup, we started with canned tomatoes for their convenience and year-round availability and added a touch of brown sugar to balance their acidity. The soup tasted good, but it seemed thin without the swirl of cream. Looking to give our soup luxurious body, we turned to a surprise ingredient: slices of white bread. Torn into pieces and added to the pot, the bread disintegrated and blended into the soup like magic, thickening it without muting the vibrant tomato flavor. Finally, a touch of fruity extra-virgin olive oil added some welcome richness. If half of the soup fills your blender by more than two-thirds, process the soup in three batches. For an even smoother soup, pass the pureed mixture through a fine-mesh strainer after blending it.

Serves 6 to 8
• ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for serving
• 1 onion, chopped fine
• 3 garlic cloves, minced
• 1 bay leaf
• Pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
• 2 (28-ounce) cans whole peeled tomatoes
• 3 slices hearty white sandwich bread, crusts removed, torn into 1-inch pieces
• 1 tablespoon packed organic brown sugar
• 2 cups vegetable broth
• 2 tablespoons brandy (optional)
• Salt and pepper
• ¼ cup minced fresh chives

  1. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onion, garlic, bay leaf, and pepper flakes, if using, and cook until onion is softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and their juice. Using potato masher, mash tomatoes until no pieces bigger than 2 inches remain. Stir in bread and sugar and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until bread is completely saturated and starts to break down, about 5 minutes. Discard bay leaf.
  2. Transfer half of soup to blender. Add 1 tablespoon oil and process until soup is smooth and creamy, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to large bowl and repeat with remaining soup and remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Return pureed soup to clean pot.
  3. Stir in broth and brandy, if using. Return soup to boil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve, sprinkling individual bowls with chives and drizzling with extra oil.

Asparagus and Arugula Salad with Cannellini Beans

Why This Recipe Works:

Asparagus is one of our favorite vegetables in the test kitchen: Its deep flavor is similar to that of cruciferous vegetables, yet it’s sweeter and more subtle. And with its crisp-tender stalks and frilly tips, its texture is more delicate. To make this standout multipurpose vegetable the center of a bright, fresh salad, choosing the right cooking method was paramount. Steaming produced bland, mushy spears, but sautéing the asparagus over high heat delivered deep flavor and tender texture. We sliced the spears on the bias to expose as much of the inner fibers to the cooking surface as possible. We browned some red onion with olive oil in a hot pan before adding the asparagus pieces. Just 4 minutes of cooking was enough to produce uniformly tender pieces.

Creamy cannellini beans provided a subtly nutty flavor and smooth contrast to the asparagus. While the asparagus mixture cooled, we made a simple vinaigrette of balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper. For the greens, we knew peppery arugula would hold up well against the other bold flavors, so we dressed and plated it before tossing the asparagus in the dressing as well. Look for asparagus spears no thicker than ½ inch.

Serves 4 to 6

  • 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ red onion, sliced thin
  • 1 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut on bias into 1-inch lengths
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • 6 ounces (6 cups) baby arugula

1 Heat 2 tablespoons oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over high heat until just smoking. Add onion and cook until lightly browned, about 1 minute. Add asparagus, ¼ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until asparagus is browned and crisp-tender, about 4 minutes. Transfer to bowl, stir in beans, and let cool slightly, about 5 minutes.

2 Whisk vinegar, ¼ teaspoon salt, and ⅛ teaspoon pepper together in bowl. Whisking constantly, slowly drizzle in remaining 3 tablespoons oil. Toss arugula with 2 tablespoons dressing until coated and season with salt and pepper to taste. Divide arugula among individual plates. Toss asparagus mixture with remaining dressing, arrange over arugula, and serve.

Chocolate-Avocado Pudding

Why This Recipe Works:

Making a luscious chocolate pudding by substituting vitamin-rich, heart-healthy avocados for the cream and eggs has become something of a craze. But more often than not, these puddings are a far cry from the silky-smooth, ultra-chocolaty pudding we want, and yield a grainy texture and lackluster chocolate flavor that doesn’t conceal the vegetal notes. We knew we could do better without making the recipe too complicated. Rather than simply blending everything together, we started by creating a simple hot cocoa syrup in a saucepan (with a touch of espresso powder, vanilla, and salt to enhance the chocolate flavor). Meanwhile, we processed the flesh of two large avocados for a full two minutes until they were absolutely smooth. Next, with the food processor running, we carefully streamed in the cocoa syrup until the mixture was velvety and glossy. We finished by blending in a moderate amount of melted dark chocolate to give our pudding a wonderfully full chocolate flavor and additional richness. We prefer the flavor of 70 percent dark chocolate in this recipe, though higher cacao percentages will also work.

Serves 6
• 1 cup water
• ¾ cup (5¼ ounces) sugar
• ¼ cup (¾ ounce) unsweetened cocoa powder
• 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
• 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder (optional)
• ¼ teaspoon salt
• 2 large ripe avocados (8 ounces each), halved and pitted
• 3½ ounces 70 percent dark chocolate, chopped

  1. Combine water, sugar, cocoa, vanilla, espresso powder (if using), and salt in small saucepan. Bring to simmer over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until sugar and cocoa dissolve, about 2 minutes. Remove saucepan from heat and cover to keep warm.
  2. Scoop flesh of avocados into food processor bowl and process until smooth, about 2 minutes, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. With processor running, slowly add warm cocoa mixture in steady stream until completely incorporated and mixture is smooth and glossy, about 2 minutes.
  3. Microwave chocolate in bowl at 50 percent power, stirring occasionally, until melted, 2 to 4 minutes. Add to avocado mixture and process until well incorporated, about 1 minute. Transfer pudding to bowl, cover, and refrigerate until chilled and set, at least 2 hours or up to 24 hours. Serve.

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