Melissa Elsmo

Quarantine cooking has all of us thinking creatively. Making the most of shelf stable and frozen items will help extend the time between grocery store trips. Making choices that delay trips to the market go a long way toward keeping yourself and others healthy at this critical time.

These quick and colorful burrito bowls make use of canned beans, hearty sweet potato, jarred salsa, frozen shrimp, and brown rice. I punched up the mix with some fresh orange, scallions and fresh jalapeno.

I sauteed the shrimp for this bowl in grapessed oil with a touch of lime zest, minced garlic, salt and pepper, but any protein could be used in the recipe. In this case, my daughter skipped the shrimp in favor of a vegetarian meal. Meals like this are a quarantine dream because they are flexible when it comes to ingredients. Toss in some thawed frozen corn, diced avocado, or sauteed sweet peppers if the mood suits you.

The base of the recipe makes use of baked rice. Rather than standing over the stove to cook brown rice it is easy to seal it tightly and slide it in the oven–this method yields perfect results every time. I love to add a smattering of orange zest to the dish, but you could leave it out or modify with lime zest or cumin seeds. Totally up to you!

I always like to add sweet potatoes to my burrito bowls. For this dish you can toss them in the oven 15 minutes after you start cooking the rice and they will be done at the same time.


Baked Brown Rice Burrito Bowls (serves about 5)


  • 1 recipe oven baked brown rice (recipe follows)
  • 1 recipe roasted sweet potato cubes (recipe follows)
  • 1 recipe quick black beans (recipe follows)
  • Large cooked shrimp, shredded chicken, pork or beef 
  • Jarred salsa
  • Assorted garnishes (suggestions included: orange segments, tomatoes, scallions, diced onion, jalapenos (fresh or pickled), sour cream, shredded cheese or queso fresco, lettuce, olives, peppers, corn, avocado, tortilla strips, cilantro, lime wedges, hot sauce or pepitas.


Portion the rice into large dinner bowls. Top with beans, sweet potatoes, protein (if using) and salsa. Garnish as desired and serve.

Oven Baked Brown Rice with Orange


  • 1 1/2 Cups long-grain brown rice
  • 1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon grated orange zest 
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 cups water


Heat the oven to 375°F: Place a rack in the middle of the oven. Pour the rice into an 8×8 baking dish. Drizzle the olive oil over the rice, and sprinkle with orange zest and  salt. Stir with a spatula until the rice is evenly coated with oil.

Bring the water to a boil in a saucepan. Pour the boiling water over the rice. Be careful not splash yourself.  Stir gently to mix, and then spread the rice evenly.

Cover tightly very with foil—if steam escapes your rice will not cook properly. Bake the rice for 1 hour. Remove the luff the rice with a fork. Cover lightly until ready to use. Leftover rice can be kept for four days in the refrigerator or frozen for 2 months.

Oven Roasted Sweet Potato Cubes


  • 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1″ cubes
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 Lime


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Toss the sweet potatoes with the olive oil. Mix in the garlic and spices. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer seasoned potatoes to a parchment lined rimmed baking sheet. Place in the oven and roast, flipping halfway through baking, until easily pierced with a fork–about for 30-40 minutes.

Quick Black Beans


  • 1-14.5 ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 bay leaf,
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder


Place the black beans in a sauce pan. Cover with water, Add the bay leaf, cumin and garlic powder. Bring to a gentle boil and reduce heat to keep warm. Drain and serve. Top with cheese if desired.

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