This Thai Burrito Bowl is delicious, healthy and vibrant, and best of all, the leftovers can be used to whip up Thai Fried Rice a day or two later. Affiliate links have been used to link to items I am discussing.
Hopefully I am floating under blue skies in the Caribbean as you are reading this–or snorkeling or lying on a beach or sipping cocktails and watching football (Go Blue!) if it is raining! But to make it up to you, I have an amazing twofer for you today. An incredibly flavorful and delicious Thai Burrito Bowl–where the components of the burrito bowl can also be used to make a scrumptious fried rice with the leftovers. It’s not a cabin on a cruise ship, but it’s something, right?
The great thing about this Thai two meal extravaganza right now is that everyone needs to eat between Christmas and New Year’s, and this gives you 2-3 meals (depending on servings needed), healthy and delicious and different from all of the holiday richness. Which is awesome, that richness, don’t get me wrong, but it is nice to have something a little different in between those meals. Or something super tasty to whip up when all of the relatives and guests have gone home.
For the food photography buffs out there, this post is also interesting because my new lens arrived before I shot the fried rice but after I shot the Thai Burrito Bowl. I am curious to know if you can tell the difference? The lens I have used since 2012 was the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II Camera Lens, which has since been discontinued but I think this Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM Lens is probably what replaced it. Anyway, while the lens was a revelation at the beginning of my blogging career, in recent months I had become increasingly frustrated by its inability to get the entire dish in focus. So a few months ago, after reading this post at the Food Photography Blog and doing some other research, I took the mini-plunge (there are certainly lenses far more expensive) and bought this macro lens: Canon EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro USM Fixed Lens for Canon SLR Cameras. I think it has made a huge difference–what do you think? Can you tell the difference between the Thai Burrito Bowl photos and the Thai Fried Rice photos? You guys have already seen this lens in action in a few other posts, but I think having the different lenses used in the same post really highlights the difference. I don’t know if I see as much different in pictures of baked goods, but the pictures of one pot meals–my favorites–have improved a lot.
Don’t be afraid of strong flavor when you are whipping up the ground beef mixture and butternut squash-apple “salsa” for the Thai Burrito Bowl. The salty umami of the beef and the sweet and sour of the salsa complement one another, and all the flavors are somewhat diluted by the rice. The sweet and sour bits of butternut squash were especially amazing in the fried rice. The entire family devoured both dishes and not a drop of anything was wasted as a result.
Happy New Year! See you in 2018!
The key to a good grain bowl or burrito bowl is having more than one super flavorful component. Because of that, these instructions look long and complicated, but in reality they are just adjusting for preparing a ground beef mixture and a butternut squash-apple "salsa" for adding to the bowl. You could certainly make one or both of this components in advance. The recipe may make more than you would use, but that is ok because both dishes are also fantastic in Thai Fried Rice (recipe below).
- 2-4 T extra virgin coconut oil, melted, plus more later
- 1 medium-large butternut squash, peeled, seeded and diced
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1-2 T extra virgin coconut oil
- 2-4 T Thai red curry paste, preferably homemade (a range is suggested because commercial paste will be hot, so you may not be able to use 4 tablespoons--obviously the more you use, the more flavor you will have)
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- 2 lbs ground beef
- 1 T garam masala
- 8-9 oz full fat coconut milk
- 1-3 T fish sauce, to taste
- 1 red onion, diced, half of it soaked in cold water and reserved
- Cold roasted butternut squash from above
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1 pinch sea salt
- 2-3 sweet or sweet-tart apples, diced (use 3 for smaller apples, 2 for larger)
- soaked red onion from above
- Juice of 2 to 4 fresh limes, to taste and depending on juiciness of limes and tartness of apples
- 1 T fish sauce, to taste
- 1 bunch basil, preferably Thai but any basil will work, sliced into slivers
- Chopped cilantro
- Jasmine rice
- Lime wedges
- Sririacha sauce
Preheat the oven to 400 F. Toss the diced butternut squash in the melted coconut oil. Sprinkle with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
Spread in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Place in the 400 F oven and roast until tender and browned, 20-30 minutes depending on size of your dice.
Remove from oven and set aside to be used later.
Heat the coconut oil over medium heat. When it is melted and shimmering, add the curry paste. Roast the curry paste for 2-3 minutes, stirring to prevent scorching.
Add the chopped yellow onion with a small pinch of salt. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes, until the onions begin to go translucent.
Add the ground beef. Break up the clumps and stir to incorporate it into the curry paste-onion mixture. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the ground beef is browned, about 8 minutes.
Add the garam masala and stir, letting it roast for 1-2 minutes. Then add the coconut milk and 2 tablespoons of fish sauce. Stir and let gently cook for 5 minutes--reduce heat of it is simmering too hard.
Mix in half of the diced red onion. Let cook another 1-2 minutes and then taste for more fish sauce. The ground beef should have a quite pronounced flavor; keep in mind it will be diluted by the rice and balanced by the sweet and sour "salsa."
When you have the flavor right, turn the heat off and set the ground beef mixture aside. It can be made ahead too, in which case warm it gently back up before using.
Place the now cool roasted butternut squash in a large bowl. Squeeze the juice of 1 lime over it and gently toss.
Chop the apples and add them to the butternut squash. Immediately toss so the lime juice prevents browning. Drain the soaking diced red onion and add it as well.
Sprinkle with black pepper to taste and a small pinch (remember the fish sauce!) of salt. Toss. Add the juice of another lime as well as 1 tablespoon of fish sauce and toss again. Toss in the basil slivers and taste for more fish sauce (salty) or lime juice (sour). The salsa should be more sweet and sour than salty, as the ground beef provides a more salty umami flavor.
Set the salsa aside.
Place Jasmine rice in the bottom of each individual serving. Top with the ground beef mixture, the butternut squash-apple salsa, and a healthy handful of chopped cilantro.
Serve with lime wedges and Sriracha sauce on the side.
How many eggs you add will depend on how much leftover ground beef you have from the Thai Burrito Bowl recipe. If you have a lot of ground beef, you can add less eggs as protein has been accounted for. But we love eggs in our fried rice, so we always add at least a couple of eggs.
- 2-3 T vegetable oil, divided
- 2-6 eggs, whisked (see note above for how many eggs to make)
- 6-8 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 small-medium onion, diced
- 6 cups cooked leftover rice, do not use fresh rice–if you must, cook it an hour in advance and spread it onto a cookie sheet and place in the freezer for 20 minutes
- 1 T light soy sauce
- 1 T dark soy sauce
- 10 oz bag of frozen broccoli, thawed if you remember but don't worry about it much
- leftover butternut squash-apple "salsa" from above
- leftover ground beef from above
- 2-4 t fish sauce, to taste
- 10 oz bag frozen peas
- 1 T dark sesame oil
Make sure all of your ingredients are prepped before starting.
Begin by scrambling the eggs in a large nonstick skillet (or wok), lightly brushed with 1 tablespoon oil. Remove the eggs and set aside in a bowl when done. Do not overcook--I remove mine when they are still a little runny.
Wipe out the pan with a folded paper towel. Add 2 tablespoons of oil to the hot pan and return it to high heat. Add the garlic and let it cook briefly, about 1-2 minutes. Keep stirring so it does not burn.
Add the chopped onion. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring, until wilted and becoming translucent.
Add the rice. Depending on how your veggies have cooked (i.e., if your pan is too dry), you may need to add a drizzle of oil. Also, depending on your rice, you may need to vigorously break up the clumps while tossing it. Toss and break the rice up for 1-2 minutes.
Add the soy sauces and the broccoli. Toss the broccoli until it is thawed and starting to warm. Add the leftovers--the ground beef and the butternut squash-apple salsa. Toss to heat through. Keep the ingredients moving with your pan on high heat.
Add 2 teaspoons of fish sauce with the frozen peas. Toss until peas have thawed and are heating. Drizzle with the sesame oil and toss; add the eggs back into it and toss to distribute until everything is heated through. Taste for additional fish sauce.
We always love our fried rice with Thai Sweet Hot Dipping Sauce, although you may find you need less of it with the butternut squash-apple salsa. You could also serve with Sriracha sauce.
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