Beans and Greens Burritos from the AICR Test Kitchen

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As one of the foremost cancer research institutes in the nation, the American Institute for Cancer Research leads the way in making evidence-based recommendations that promote lifestyle choices among the public that can prevent the development of some cancers. To this end, every other week their test kitchen offers a new and delicious recipe.

This week's test kitchen recipe is for beans and greens burritos.

Give popular burritos a new twist by wrapping them in collard green leaves that are delicious, crunchy and rich in cancer-protective nutrients. Beautiful, bright green collard wraps are a hip way to add cheer to the holiday season or any day.

Collards, which are the oldest known greens in the cabbage family, are native to the eastern Mediterranean region and Asia Minor. They are considered one of the most nutritious vegetables you can consume because of their high content of cancer-protective carotenoids, vitamin K and B vitamin folate. Use recipes like this to incorporate collards into your home menu as part of a cancer prevention diet.

When buying collard greens, look for crisp bunches with smooth firm leaves, avoiding those with yellow, wilted or slimy leaves and thick dried-out stems. Wilting is a sign of bitter tasting leaves. You can store unwashed collard greens for up to 5 days by wrapping them in a damp paper towel and placing them in a plastic bag and refrigerating. When preparing the collard greens, make sure to trim off the bottom of the leaves to eliminate the largest part of the stem. This will ensure that you can easily wrap your burritos and avoid them being too chewy.

The combination of beans, hummus, corn, rice and salsa creates a wonderful medley of flavors and textures. The beans and hummus offer plant-based protein while the brown rice and corn pack even more fiber. In a season when you are bombarded with food that may be high in calories and low in nutritional quality, these burritos are a refreshing respite.

This recipe is simple to prepare. With the exception of the quick blanching of the greens, and if you use reheated frozen cooked brown rice, there is no cooking, just mixing and wrapping. So, if you are inviting friends over to celebrate the season or having a holiday party, make these in advance and set out a platter as hearty fare. Or, you can pair them with a bowl of warm soup for a satisfying lunch or dinner.

Beans and Greens Burritos

  • 4 large collard green leaves, rinsed
  • ½ cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained
  • ½ cup frozen whole kernel corn, thawed
  • ½ cup cooked brown rice
  • 1/3 cup hummus
  • ¼ cup chunky salsa, mild or medium
  • 2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ tsp. oregano
  • ¼ tsp. cumin
  • ¼ tsp. red pepper flakes, or to taste
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

On cutting board, lay each collard green leaf with top up and gently smooth leaf. Slice 4-5 inches off bottom to remove large stem.

Bring large pot of water to boil. Drop leaves in and blanche 2-3 minutes. Carefully remove from pot and lay flat on kitchen towel to drain and cool. Lay leaves in assembly line manner with top end up and cut bottom down.

In mixing bowl, add remaining ingredients. Mix gently but thoroughly. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Place mixture, evenly divided, in center of leaf and shape thick line from top to bottom leaving two inches at top and bottom. Gently fold up bottom edge, then top edge down. Next, fold left edge toward center and roll to right to form a burrito. Serve whole or cut diagonally in half.

Makes 4 servings.

Per serving: 130 calories, 3 g total fat (<1 g saturated fat), 23 g carbohydrate, 6 g protein, 6 g dietary fiber, 201 mg sodium.

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