Back when I shared an apartment with my sister, and sometimes since, birthdays were always a meal of Picadillo Chimichangas and a pitcher (or two!) of Sangria. The filling is savory, a little sweet, with warm spices. I haven’t had these in ages. One of the reasons being that I no longer eat beef, which is what these were originally made with (I will include the equivalents, however, if you want to try the original).
I decided to have another go at this nostalgic recipe this weekend, making the dish vegetarian, and if you forgo the cheese and sour cream toppings, also vegan. I paired it with a simple slaw of red cabbage, carrot, cilantro, oil, vinegar and a little sugar. I was super pleased with the results ! The filling itself would be equally delicious served over rice, or simply tucked into a wrap, without the frying, making for a more “everday” dish.
- 3/4 cup green lentils
- vegetable broth, for cooking
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
- 2 large cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1/8 tsp ground cloves
- 1 medium granny smith apple, cored, peeled and chopped small
- 1/2 cup raisins
- 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 2 medium tomatoes, seeds removed, chopped
- 1 tbsp minced jalapeno peppers
- 1 tsp sugar
- 3 tbsp sliced green olives
- 1/4 cup slivered almonds
- salt, to taste
- 4-5 large flour tortillas (how many you use will depend on how much you stuff them)
- vegetable oil for frying
- toppings: shredded cheddar, guacamole, sour cream and salsa
Start by cooking the lentils: bring approximately 1 1/2 cups of vegetable broth to a boil, add lentils and reduce heat to medium. Cook until lentils are tender but not mushy. Drain and set aside. (if you are making the original recipe, skip this step and fry up a pound of ground beef)
Add first quantity of vegetable oil to a saucepan over low-medium heat. Add chopped onions and garlic, cook until onions are softened. Add spices, apple, raisins and vinegar to pan. Cook until apples are softened slightly, then add tomatoes, jalapenos and sugar. When tomatoes are softened, stir in olives, almonds and lentils. Taste and season with salt. Remove from heat and allow to cool somewhat.
When ready to assemble the chimichangas, add about 3/4 to 1 cup of the lentil mixture to the centre of a softened flour tortilla. Fold into a square, using a toothpick to secure edges (like an envelope!).
Add about an inch of vegetable oil to a saucepan over medium heat. Add chimichangas, one or two at a time, depending on the size of your pan. Cook for a minute or so on each side, until golden and crisp. Remove and place on a paper-towel lined plate until ready to serve. Don’t forget to remove the toothpick!
Plate up and top with whatever you choose: I like mine with a little cheese, guacamole, salsa and sour cream, the works! You can serve these with a salad or some seasoned rice to make the meal.