from Daniel Larkin
to jamey w. bennett
I finally did it! Veggie tacos made with real food!
My main qualm with vegetarian options at home is that they usually involve some sort of processed fake meat. Not that I’m staunchly opposed to using them (my Skyline Chili knock-off and my chicken-less tacos both rely on faux-meats) but I’ve always wanted another option. What comes next in this email is an approximation of what I did. I didn’t do any prior research, I took no notes, and I’m writing this three weeks after the fact. I tried to mentally tally everything, but you may still have to rely on your ninja skills of adaptation.
In all honesty, I’m not really going not on memory for all of the measurements, but rather guessing at how much I would add if I were to make this again.
Here’s a list of what made up the filling. It’s kind of like refrigerator soup, in that I just used whatever I had on hand. But as anyone who’s read about nutrition knows, variety is the best recipe. The key to making this more taco-meat-esque is to chop all whole foods very small before cooking. Obviously, you don’t need to chop the beans or corn, but you get the idea.
• 1 can of black beans (rinsed)
• about a cup of frozen corn kernels
• about 1/2 cup of carrot (finely chopped)
• the tips off one head of broccoli (finely chopped)
• One or two pablano peppers (finely chopped) — add more or different peppers if you like it hotter
• 1/2 onion (finely chopped)
• 3 cloves of garlic (finely chopped)
• a handful of walnuts (you guessed it, finely chopped)
• 1 pack of firm tofu (it’ll break into small pieces when added and stirred) — extra firm tofu won’t break up enough and silken tofu will just dissolve
• (I wanted to add small cubes of sautéed sweet potato, but I forgot. I still think that would be good!)
• 1 tbs soy sauce
• 8-ish oz Guinness Draught
• 3-ish tbs tomato paste
• 2-ish tbs chili powder
• 1-1/2-ish tbs cumin
• Pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg
• A few sprigs of chopped cilantro
• Salt and red and black pepper to taste
Sauté garlic and onion for a minute in the oil of your choice. Mix all other veggies and sauté for about 10 minutes. Then add the liquid and spices – again, tasting as you go because I didn’t measure shit. Simmer everything for 30 minutes, and add walnuts and cilantro in the last 5 minutes.
Fair warning, this made a ton!
Now I didn’t want to just top the tacos off with lettuce and be done with it. I wanted to go fancy pants.
So I filled a large mixing bowl with green cabbage sliced thinly and evenly with the mandolin. Then I threw in a good handful of chopped cilantro, and an half-and-half mix of plain greek yogurt and sour cream —enough to make a slaw-type consistency. I mixed in some salt and pepper, about 3 tbs of granulated sugar, about 1 tbs red wine vinegar and the juice from 2-1/2 limes. (I used the other half lime to keep the avocado from browning) Then I tossed it all by hand until it was even and put it in the fridge to settle for about an hour.
The final setup went like this; tortilla, veggie filling, cheese, cilantro slaw, sliced avocado and hot sauce. And it was phenomenal! The mix of veggies and tofu was the perfect consistency, and the small crunch of walnuts kept the texture interesting. The fresh slaw was a perfect compliment, and was way more interesting that lettuce and sour cream could have been by themselves.
These tacos made me realize that vegetarian eating doesn’t have to be about avoiding meat. When done right, it’s really just a tasty way to eat your vegetables. The variety of plant-based foods on this plate made for one of the most wholesome meals I’ve had in a long time. And one of the tastiest.