Some evenings are just not made for fussing over dinner. After a long work day; kids’ sports-music-dance-chess club-art-study group activities; community meetings; and who knows what, all cooks need some go-to quick, hot, hearty, tasty things we can make with our eyes closed.
This recipe got me through the flurry of raising my then-tween and teen-agers, and still is a completely comforting and serviceable years later. Over the years I’ve done a lot of “Making It My Own” improv riffing, and it’s always forgiving and welcome.
A big plus to this recipe guideline is that it easily accommodates a range of dietary needs within a household. It’s easy to make a burrito cheesy-gooey for one person and dairy-free for another, and it offers the same flexibility with gluten-free and vegan options.
If you’re into left overs, plan to make some. It’s a jump-start to a hearty Joe’s Special egg scramble the next morning, or a great topping for a plate of Friday night nachos.
In my real-world life, not every meal is a multi-course beautifully plated affair. Nope, some nights are just about getting it done, and that’s good enough, especially when one of my adult sons still asks, “Hey, Mom, can I come over for spinach burritos?” That’s a sign of a successful recipe.
Cheap Quick + Easy 20-Minute Beefy (or Beany) Spinach Burritos
- 1 ¼ lb. ground beef, vegan ground meat substitute OR
- 3 15 oz. cans pinto beans, drained plus 2 Tbsp. olive oil for the pan
- 6 cloves garlic, or 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
- 1½ tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 ¼ Cups store-bought salsa
- 1 4 oz can diced green chilies, or add another ½ cup salsa
- 8 to 10 oz. fresh spinach
- 1 Cup shredded cheddar cheese
- 8 medium flour or GF tortillas
- canola or other cooking spray
- cilantro, additional salsa and sour cream for garnish
- In a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat, brown the ground beef or meat substitute, garlic, cumin, and salt.
- If replacing the meat with canned beans, add 2 Tbsp. olive oil to the pan before adding the beans.
- When the meat (or beans) and spices are well-browned, stir in in the salsa and green chilis.
- Add the spinach leaves, two or three handfuls at a time, stirring them in until they wilt before adding the next few handfuls, until all the spinach is wilted and mixed through.
- Heat a separate large skillet to medium high. Spray one side of each tortilla with the cooking spray (this will help them crisp up.*) Place the sprayed side down in the heated skillet, and sprinkle a little of the cheese down the center. (Omit the cheese for vegan/dairy-free options.) Spoon the beefy spinach filling down the center of the tortilla. Fold the edges over the filling, burrito-style. When the first side is browned, flip the burrito over to crisp it too.
- Place the burritos on serving plates and garnish with additional salsa, green chilis, cilantro, and sour cream (omit for vegan/diary-free versions) as desired.
- add a chopped onion to the skillet when browning the ground beef
- try this with ground chicken or turkey
- experiment with adding chili powder and/or dried Mexican oregano
- add a chopped stems from a bunch of cilantro with the spinach
- fancy expensive salsa is not needed in this recipe, but have fun experimenting with different inexpensive ones.
- bump up the heat with spicier salsa, or add a chopped jalapeno to the meet as it browns.