Growing up in California, I heard a lot about Cesar Chavez—a civil rights activist, labor leader, and farm worker. His birthday is even a state holiday in eight states! Something that is not as widely known about Chavez, however, is the fact that he was also an animal rights advocate and vegan.
Check out one my favorite Chavez quotes: “Kindness and compassion toward all living things is a mark of a civilized society. Conversely, cruelty, whether it is directed against human beings or against animals, is not the exclusive province of any one culture or community of people. Racism, economic deprival, dog fighting and cock fighting, bull fighting and rodeos are cut from the same fabric: violence. Only when we have become nonviolent toward all life will we have learned to live well ourselves.” Amazing, right?
So what better way to honor the great Cesar Chavez today than by making delicious vegan Mexican food to share with your family and friends? Burritos, tacos, and nachos are always good options, but I thought I’d kick up the fanciness factor with some delicious chimichangas. Now, chimichangas are typically deep-fried and filled with meat, cheese, and beans, but it’s always fun to try vegan versions of dishes that are typically meat and dairy-filled (meaning, dishes people think can’t be veganized!), so when I came across this VegWeb recipe for Baked Chimichangas, I had to give it a try (This recipe makes a ton of leftovers, just as a heads-up, but you’ll likely eat them all if you’re anything like me—they were so good!).
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped (I used yellow)
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can pinto beans, undrained
1 can diced tomatoes with chilies, undrained
1 can mild chilies, undrained
chili powder—to taste
1 cup cooked instant brown rice
1 can vegetarian refried beans
In a large saucepan, sauté garlic and onion in 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat until onion is translucent. (Reserve rest of oil for later use.) Add bell pepper, stirring constantly. Add beans, tomatoes, chilies, and spices. Turn heat down to low and let simmer for 15 minutes, uncovered.
Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees F.
Spread thin layer of refried beans on to each tortilla. Top with rice and bean mixture. Fold each side of tortilla towards each other and roll to form a closed burrito. Brush each burrito lightly with remaining oil.
Place burritos on nonstick or lightly greased cookie sheet.
Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown (Marta’s note: I only baked for 15 minutes and it was crispy just the way I like it!).
Let cool slightly, then top with guacamole, salsa or any other toppings you like. Enjoy!
What’s your favorite vegan Mexican dish? What will you be making in honor of Cesar Chavez today?