For all of my interest in new, plant-based products, I’m often a slow adopter. I’ve got so many standby staple foods that it can take me a while to welcome something new into the rotation, and jackfruit is a perfect example. It’s one of the most popular ingredients in plant-based cooking these days, and until this summer, I had never—never!—even tasted it.
Thankfully, I’ve welcomed jackfruit into my life in the last few months, thanks to the folks at The Jackfruit Company, and it hasn’t taken me long to see what people love about it. It’s got a dense, “meaty” texture that’s still tender enough to pull apart—no wonder it’s so often used in place of pulled pork—and it seems to absorb flavor and seasonings readily, which makes it super versatile for cooking.
For all of its popularity in the vegan community, jackfruit is a relatively new product to US consumers (I’d never even heard of it until quite a few years after I’d gone vegan). Part of its growing presence here is thanks to Annie Ryu, the founder of The Jackfruit Company, whose vision has been and continues to be making jackfruit available worldwide.
Annie is a former pre-med student, who traveled to India in 2011 to implement a maternal and child healthcare program she’d developed with her brother. She saw jackfruit at a local street vendor’s stall and was intrigued—like most Americans, she’d never seen or heard of it. She soon learned that jackfruit is nutritious and sustainable: it’s resistant to drought and doesn’t need replanting each year, which makes it a good investment for farmers in tropical climates.
Struck by her experience in India, Annie ultimately moved away from medicine and toward building the Jackfruit company, creating a working international supply chain to make jackfruit more available around the world. Today, The Jackfruit Company, which is based in Boulder, works with 1,000 farming families in India to make jackfruit more globally available and to see that less of the fruit goes to waste, while providing income for the farming families.
The company makes refrigerated seasoned jackfruit meal starters, frozen single serve entrees, and foodservice products, all of which are vegan, non-GMO, and gluten free. I’ve had a wonderful time getting to know them, piece by piece: I’m saving some of the frozen meals for the fall, when time to cook will be more precious than it is now. I’ve gotten to know the seasoned jackfruit well, and so far, my favorite flavors are Tex-Mex, Curry, and BBQ.
It’s the BBQ that’s on full display in today’s easy vegan jackfruit, kale, and black bean enchiladas. The idea here was to pair jackfruit with greens for color, texture, and nutrition, and then to throw in black beans for some extra plant protein. It’s worth saying that jackfruit is very micronutrient dense—rich in Vitamins A and C, as well as a number of B vitamins—and it’s high in fiber. But for a meat replacement, it’s not high protein, so I usually pair it with some sort of legume.
I’m super excited to continue getting to know this new-to-me ingredient in more dishes: I see tacos, stir fries, and stews in my near future. But for now, I’m happy to use the BBQ jackfruit in one of my all-time favorite comfort food dishes—one that I like to eat for breakfast, lunch, or dinner!
This one serves a crowd: it’s enough filling for 12-16 tortillas, depending on the brand and size you use. Because I’m eating leftovers on my own this week, I made 7 of the enchiladas and froze half for future comfort food suppers, which was a cool make-ahead strategy for when the DI starts.
This is one of my easiest and most low-key enchilada recipes to date, which works perfectly with my hands off summer of meal preparation. It’s also in keeping with the star ingredient: the nice thing about using the BBQ jackfruit is that it’s flavorful enough to resist the need for a lot of extra spices and seasonings. These are weeknight friendly enchiladas, or a great prep-ahead option for a group brunch.
No matter how many years I’ve been eating plant-based food, I continue to feel grateful and give thanks for new options—especially those that hail from different parts of the world, and which I might not encounter without some encouragement. I’m so glad to welcome jackfruit into my repertoire! If you’re curious to try some of The Jackfruit Company’s products for yourself, you can check out their website, where you’ll also find a coupon to receive a dollar off any one of their products! You can also find the BBQ jackfruit—and other flavors—at retailers across the country.
Happy Meatless Monday, friends. I’ll be back later this week with a super easy grain salad for back-to-school packed lunches and other quick fall meals. Till then, take care.
This post is sponsored by The Jackfruit Company. All opinions are my own, and I love this unique and versatile product. Thanks for your support!