From the first time I heard of it, something nagged at me about jackfruit. I’m not talking about the ripe version, those huge specimens that offer up sweet fruit, once you know how to cut them down to size. No, I mean the green jackfruit that’s used as a meat substitute because of the way its texture mimics that of pulled pork.
Here’s my issue: Vegetarians seek out meat alternatives primarily for protein. That’s why veggie burgers, say, are based on beans and nuts. That’s why we revere tofu, build recipes around tempeh, investigate seitan.
So I resisted when publicists emailed me about the latest jackfruit products, which have made shelf-stable jackfruit available for those who don’t have access to an Asian supermarket, where it has long been sold canned in brine. But the more I kept hearing about these products and seeing recipes that used them, the more I realized: The problem isn’t the jackfruit itself, it’s the recipes. Or more specifically, what they’re missing. Jackfruit enchiladas and jackfruit ramen are fine, I’m sure, but they’d be even better if in addition to jackfruit they included a high-protein ingredient or two.
There’s another issue with those newer jackfruit products, to me anyway: They’re sold already flavored, in varieties like barbecue or curry, meaning that any cooking I might do with them is limited. Upton’s Naturals sells a “naked jackfruit,” but in limited distribution. So I made my way to an H Mart for the Southeast Asian canned variety. (Warning: Make sure to look for the jackfruit sold in brine or water, not syrup.)
Because jackfruit takes so well to intense spices, I went with a Jamaican jerk-style burrito that combines it with black beans. The recipe comes from Vegan Richa, but I streamlined it a bit to make it a little more weeknight-friendly. You start with young, green jackfruit from a can or package, squeeze the liquid from it, shred it and cook it with typical jerk spices (allspice, paprika, cayenne and more), stir in some lime juice and a little sugar and pan-roast it until browned. Then you wrap it in tortillas with black beans that have been spiked with a little orange juice, giving them a Caribbean flair, plus a little mango, pickles, greens and more.
Now you’ve got a wrap that has both: meaty texture and meaty nutrition.
Canned, plain (green) jackfruit is available at H Mart and other Asian markets. (If you want to use seasoned jackfruit, available from such companies as Upton’s Naturals and the Jackfruit Company at MOM’s Organic Market, Whole Foods Market and other natural-food stores, skip the seasoning and cooking in the recipe and just warm it in a pan before proceeding.)
Adapted from a recipe at VeganRicha.com.
For the jackfruit
One 20-ounce can plain green jackfruit in brine or water (see headnote)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 small onion, chopped (about
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more as needed
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 cup water
1/2 teaspoon sugar (optional)
For the beans
1 1/2 cups cooked or no-salt-added canned black beans (from one 15-ounce can), drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more as needed
4 extra-large (burrito-size) flour tortillas
1 cup diced mango (from
1 small mango)
12 sour pickle slices
1 medium tomato, cored and cut into wedges
12 sprigs cilantro
For the jackfruit: Drain and rinse it, then wrap it in paper towels and squeeze to remove as much moisture as possible. Cut the jackfruit into 1/2-inch pieces.
Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Once the oil shimmers, add the garlic and onion; cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and starting to lightly brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the jackfruit, paprika, allspice, salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper, if using; cook, stirring frequently, until the spices start to become fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes.
Add the lime juice, water and sugar, if using; partially cover and cook until the liquid is almost completely evaporated, 15 to 20 minutes. Uncover and cook for an additional minute or two, stirring, until the jackfruit starts to brown on some edges. Taste, and add more salt, as needed. Remove from the heat and cover to keep warm.
For the beans: Combine the beans, orange juice and salt in a small saucepan over medium heat; cook just until warmed through, a few minutes. Taste, and add more salt, as needed. Remove from the heat and cover to keep warm.
When ready to assemble, briefly warm the tortillas in a large, dry skillet by heating both sides for a few seconds over medium heat, or microwave them for about 10 seconds on HIGH, then wrap them in aluminum foil to keep warm.
Lay one tortilla on a work surface. Spread one-quarter of the jackfruit mixture across the middle, leaving an inch or two margin at either end, then top with one-quarter of the beans, including some of their liquid, one-quarter of the mango, and a few pickle slices, tomato wedges and cilantro sprigs. Roll one side of the tortilla over the filling, fold over the sides and continue rolling to form a burrito.
Repeat with the remaining tortillas. Serve warm.
Nutrition | Per serving: 420 calories, 13 g protein, 72 g carbohydrates, 10 g fat, 4 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 990 mg sodium, 16 g dietary fiber, 10 g sugar
Recipe tested by Joe Yonan; email questions to email@example.com
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