Author’s Note: I’m currently in the process of migrating old blog posts to this new system. That may mean some links, syntax highlighting, and other details are broken or missing temporarily. Sorry for the inconvenience!

I have always been a huge fan of inauthentic Mexican cuisine. As soon as I was sixteen, frequent trips to Taco Bell became a staple of my existence. Oh sure, I occasionally flirted with KFC, and when desperate, might find myself in a McDonald’s drive-thru, but Taco Bell was my favorite. Your mouth is already watering, isn’t it?

When I went off to college, I was presented with a new option: Burrachos! Burrachos was everything this “Chipotle” I’d been hearing about was supposed to be. We didn’t have a Chipotle. But we had a Burrachos. It had a counter where you selected between white and brown rice, black or pinto beans…you get the idea.

Except you could also add queso!

Seriously, they’ll just drizzle queso over your burrito bowl or nachos or whatever. Health aside, why doesn’t Chipotle do that???

Chipotle tho

Okay, but Chipotle has a far better corn salsa. And it became a bit of a pattern whenever I traveled. You can always find a Starbucks and a Chipotle in any metro area, so it’s a nice, safe choice. Just get your regular order, you know you’ll be alright.

When I moved out to New York, I spent a month eating just Chipotle. The same order every time. I was nervous to be away from my desk for too long, so I’d get my burrito bowl, chips and extra corn salsa, and scramble back to my desk to keep working. Because what if they fired me for taking my full lunch hour?!

Occasionally, a few coworkers would suggest we go get Indian or Mongolian or something else. I declined. Lunch was not the time to be gastrointestinally experimental!

My apartment also happened to be directly above a Chipotle. I swear I only had Chipotle lunch and dinner one or two times!

It doesn’t matter if it’s good

Chipotle taught me something important about food - or at least, my relationship with food. It was delicious the first few times. But I didn’t go back because I had a hankering for their food. I went back and ate the same meal because it was comforting. For my first few months in New York, it was nice to see someone who knew my name and my order. Just to have some constancy in a world of change.

But I don’t need every meal to be amazing. I don’t need to be a “foodie”, always searching out something to top the latest meal. And I don’t think I’m alone in this.

Think about Thanksgiving. Do you really hope to sit down with your family and hear “So I invented this really cool brand-new dish…”

That realization has helped me a lot as I’ve been moving toward a meal prep way of life. I don’t need some novel culinary experience. More than anything else, I crave constancy. I’ll save my exploratory side for other adventures!

Kevin’s “Not Chipotle” Burrito Bowl

Note: This is a merger of several recipes I’ve found online, slightly tweaked and simplified to make the process easier. It’s not gonna be exactly like Chipotle. That’s what Chipotle is for! I also would have added cilantro, but I discovered on the way home I had bought parsely. Oops!

A photo posted by Kevin Gisi (@cheerskevin) on

Ingredients

  • 2.5 cups basmati rice
  • 2 cans black beans
  • 1 can sweet corn
  • 2 yellow onion (the local co-op didn’t have red)
  • 2 green bell peppers
  • 2 limes
  • 5 jalapeños
  • 3 tomatoes
  • 1/2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tbsp black pepper

Instructions

  • Boil up 2.5 cups of basmati rice, with 3.5 cups of water. Then simmer covered until the water is absorbed.
  • Empty the cans of black beans into a saucepan and put ‘em on a low heat. Don’t drain ‘em. The goop is fun! Stir every five minutes to avoid it getting filmy.
  • Dice one onion and add it to a mixing bowl
  • Scoop out the centers of the jalapeños, and remove the seeds. Dice up the skin and add it to the mixing bowl (I definitely plan to keep more of the heat in the future, but wanted to try it Chipotle-style for now).
  • Squeeze the juice of 2 limes into the mixture and toss it with a fork.
  • Dice the three onions and add them to a second bowl.
  • Transfer half of the onion mixture into the tomato mixture and stir it up. You now have your tomato salsa ready to go!
  • Drain the can of corn and add it to the remaining onion mixture. Crack some black pepper over it and mix well. Now you’ve got corn salsa too!
  • Is the rice done yet? No.
  • Cut the second onion into long strips. Do the same with the green bell peppers.
  • Add 1/2 tbsp apple cider vinegar to a skillet on a medium-high heat, and add the onion and peppers.
  • You’re not cooking with oil, so be sure to move things around a fair bit. Feel free to add a bit of water if necessary to keep stuff from sticking.
  • Is the rice done yet???
  • Pull the heat off the skillet once the onions look OMG amazing.
  • You’re done! Now just portion out the rice, the black beans, the veggies, tomato salsa, and corn salsa. Enjoy!
  • Serves seven (or one person over seven days)
  • 379 cals / serving. 79g carbs, 3.1g fat, 13.1g protein