I started making these Veggie Bean Soft Tacos when we were visiting Belize prior to moving here, because they are healthy, easy to whip up, and use many fresh ingredients easily found at the fruit and vegetable stands around town. We also ate a lot of these when we first moved into our new condo last August before we'd finished stocking up our pantry, since we didn't have a lot of dinner options until we got the "larder" filled up with basics like condiments, spices, baking essentials, and so on. I don't make them quite as often now since we have more options, but they are still one of my favorite easy things to make, taking only about 30 minutes from start to finish, and we both enjoy them, so I thought I'd share them with our friends and families.
There are a lot of different vegetable options for these, but I always use onions, bell peppers (any color, 1-2 peppers total depending on size), beans, tomato, and chipotle chile in adobo sauce, which gives them a nice smoky flavor (plus some heat!) If I have a zucchini, which I often do, I add that, and normally I'll add grated cheddar or jack cheese, but neither are required. The cheese does help the other ingredients meld together so they don't fall out of the tortilla, though; plus, cheese just plain tastes good; but if you're avoiding dairy, feel free to leave it out. Cilantro is an optional ingredient as well.
For the beans, you can use canned, but since Barry cooks dried beans for us in the crockpot, a small Tupperware container's worth works for this recipe. I'd guesstimate that this is equivalent to a typical (15.5 oz?) can of beans. Any beans will work -- black, pinto, kidney, or a blend. This is the ultimate in made-up, flexible recipe!
I use whole wheat tortillas, but you can use regular flour ones if whole wheat are not available. We usually eat two of these apiece. If you have the plate-sized tortillas typically found in the US, one per person will suffice, but the tortillas here in Belize are typically smaller. We've been buying these in large batches from Domingo's Popular Tortilla on Back Street, but I've recently seen them in Marina's and Casa Pan Dulce up on the front counter as well, if you only want a four-pack.
This recipe serves two people generously, with some of the filling left over. If you're serving more than two, you'll need to adjust the quantities accordingly.
I usually start with these veggies, chopped fairly fine.
Zucchini (1), onion (1/2), bell pepper (1-2)
First, I saute onion in 2 T. olive oil over medium heat until it is fairly soft and translucent, then I add the peppers and zucchini to the pan and turn the heat down a bit, to medium-low. The veggies will only need occasional stirring at this temperature. You can use higher heat, but keep a much closer eye on the pan and stir frequently.
While those are cooking (about 5-7 minutes), I chop the next group of veggies. I always use one tomato, and this time I used two small chipotle chiles from an original can, plus just a little of the adobo sauce that comes in the can with the chiles. This stuff is hot, so don't go overboard unless you really like to sweat! If you don't have chipotle chiles or don't want any heat, add maybe 1/4 c. of mild salsa instead. And if you like things super hot, feel free to add a minced habanero pepper, or whatever makes you -- and your dinner companion -- happy!
I had lovely fresh cilantro this time, so chopped up about 1/4 c. of it -- but I didn't add it until the very end.
chopped tomato (1), cilantro (1/4 c.), and chipotle chiles (2 small)
Add the tomato & chipotle chiles to the pan
Give everything a good stir and continue sauteeing for another five minutes or so. You can put a lid on the pan now and check/stir every couple of minutes until the veggies are the way you like 'em -- from fairly crisp to quite soft. I like mine kind of in the middle -- not mushy, but definitely cooked.
Let 'em cook for a few minutes
Once the vegetables are done to your liking, add the already cooked beans, salt to taste, and give everything in the pan a stir. This time I had pinto beans on hand so used those. Put the lid on the pan on again for a couple of minutes, just to heat the beans through.
This was about the equivalent of one can of beans
Add beans to the pan and stir
Lid back on until beans are heated through
Once the beans have heated through, I sprinkle the cheese over top of the entire pan. I usually use about 1/2 c. grated cheese here, but since I only had about 1 T. this time, that had to suffice. I then sprinkle the cilantro, when I'm using it, over the cheese.
It's almost done!
I then replace the lid over the pan for about another minute or two, just until the cheese gets nice and gooey. While that's happening, I get the tortillas ready to go. I use a damp paper towel on top of them and microwave 'em for 30 seconds.
Once the cheese has melted, fill half of each tortilla with a goodly amount of the bean-veggie mix, fold over, and chow down. These are meant to be eaten with the hands, but you'll probably need a fork as well to catch any fallout! Oh, and these go really well with an ice-cold Belikin (the national beer of Belize), chips, and salsa. Enjoy!
One last time to let the cheese melt
Heat the tortillas under a damp paper towel or microwave cover
The finished product before folding