Happy Tuesday! We’ve made it through yet another Monday, and what better way to celebrate than with healthy tacos?
Tacos have always been one of my favorite meals, not only because they are tasty and convenient, but also because they’re a little messy and I get to eat them with my hands. What could be more fun?
The term “Taco Tuesday” is believed to have come from a restaurant promotion started in 1982 by Taco John’s (a Wyoming based fast-food restaurant featuring Mexican-inspired fast food) but now it is popular across the United States as a weekly tradition in many households. The versatility and palatability of tacos make meal planning a bit easier at least once a week. I think we can all be thankful for that.
The traditional Mexican taco is much different from the regular taco you find in the United States. In New Mexican and Tex Mex cuisines, tacos typically consist of a deep fried corn tortilla filled with ground beef and lots of cheese, sprinkled with a small portion of lettuce and tomato, and topped with sour cream, salsa or guacamole (inexplicably and invariably at an additional charge).
On the other hand, most of the tacos in Mexico are served on warm, freshly pressed corn tortillas filled with a choice of meat or fish and often topped with chopped onions, fresh herbs, and lots of fresh lime. Tacos are the quintessential street food in Mexico and the prerequisites are distinct fresh flavors and ease of preparation. They can be put together in less than a minute, creating a little pocket of deliciousness that can be consumed in a couple of bites.
When it comes to tacos, the options are endless, and this week, we’re cooking up our own version of a classic In our South of the Border Tacos. Our personal twist consists of lots of plant-based ingredients and loads of clean flavors. We put it all together for a truly fantastic taco experience that you can recreate at home anytime.
First and foremost, we use the absolute best tortillas we can find. Authentic nixtamal tortillas that give our tacos their traditional texture and flavor. This Spanish word comes from the Nahuatl for nextli (ashes) and tamalli (tamale). Nixtamalization is the process that maize undergoes so that tortillas or tamales can be made with fresh masa. The corn is soaked and cooked in an alkaline solution, usually limewater. It is then thoroughly rinsed, and later ground. Only then can the resulting dough be used to make tortillas.
By processing the corn this way, niacin is made available for absorption and certain mycotoxins that commonly appear in corn can be neutralized. Most importantly, it imparts the resulting masa with a sweet and smoky aroma that is the perfect backdrop for so many diverse ingredients. Our South of the Border tacos come full to the brim with pinto beans (packed with protein and fiber) and a generous melange of sauteed veggies sprinkled with an aromatic blend of New Mexico dried chile and smoky chipotle pepper. They are topped with ample amounts of cilantro, jalapenos, and a squeeze of fresh lime. This is a delicious vegan version, but they can also be customized to fit your taste with authentic crema or cotija cheese. Avocados supply a rich and soft feel that helps round the overall flavor profile of this dish.These tacos give you amazing satisfaction without the saturated fat and sodium that you would find in the standard American taco.
Ingredients (makes two or more tacos)
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 yellow/green bell peppers, thinly sliced
1/2 fresh poblano pepper, thinly sliced
2 Tbsp red onion, diced
1 garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
Pinch of dried oregano
Pinch sea salt
1 small zucchini, chopped
2 Tbsp fresh or frozen corn kernels
2 Tbsp cooked pinto beans
2 Tbsp chopped cilantro (garnish)
2 corn tortillas, warm
1 tsp jalapeno, diced (plus more for garnish)
Slice the peppers into thin strips, chop the zucchini, and then finely dice the onion and jalapeno.
Pour oil in skillet over medium heat. Cook onion, jalapeno, green bell pepper, corn, and zucchini until “al dente.” Be careful not to overcook. You want each veggie to retain its color and texture. Stir in the garlic and sprinkle a generous amount of Mexican oregano. Add the pre-cooked beans and mix well.
Add spices and salt to taste. Garnish with chopped cilantro, minced jalapeno, and a generous spritz of lime.
Serve on fragrant warm corn tortillas.