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Tempura Tex-m-pura Baby Eggplants

tempura-texmpura-baby-eggplants-yes-more-please

This might be the ultimate way to eat baby eggplants.
Besides the great classic recipes used for bigger eggplants, like ratatouille, caponata, Baba ghanoush, grilling, stuffing or roasting them( which I love) I feel these dainty two-three inches nightshade gems deserve a more delicate approach. I’m always looking for a contrast in texture when eating something so custardy and creamy like the way the eggplants become when they are cooked. The solution for my craving for these tender and sweet eggplants: tempura batter.
I know you have seen eggplant tempura at your favorite Japanese restaurant. They mostly use the large eggplants, which are delicious but not near as delicate in  flavor as these babies. Wait until you try this dainty two bite goodness.
These Tempura baby Eggplants are an exhilarating bite. Imagine a bite that combines a light and crispy fried tempura coat with a warm custardy buttery eggplant interior. A beautiful object to be dipped on a tangy, salty, spicy, sweet sauce. Yes, all in one bite.
Are you with me? Or did you lose it at tempura coat?…
There are a lot of tempura recipes out there yielding different textures and results. After experimenting with different amounts of flours, egg, eggless, water, cold fizzy water, I think I found the formula and proportions that work for my tempura dreams. By far this tempura recipe is the one I find it has the right balance of flavor and texture, for me, tempura has to be extra crispy and light with a flavorful batter. This is what this tempura coat is all about: crispy and flavorful.

tempura-baby-eggplants_texmpura_yes-more-please
Now lets make this tempura recipe our own. My spin is a hint of spice and using an Ale instead of the fizzy water. Texmpura, its what I call this, using one of my favorite Texas beer, “The Naked Nun” from Adelbert’s Brewery, an Austin, Texas …a local beer, this is all you need to transform this Tempura into a beer batter Texmpura that is flavorful, light, and extra crisp. If you can’t get Adelbert’s where you are I recommend a bright citrus beer, or a dos equis mexican beer instead. I’m sure by now you are as excited as I am, about eggplant season. Eggplants are available all year around, but the peak of eggplant season runs from July to October and baby eggplants are best found at local stores or farmer’s markets. If you are in Austin Tx, you can find these babies at Mueller Sunday’s Farmers market, Springdale Farms, Wholefoods or Central Market.
Now, my friends, please, do not limit yourself to eggplants, bring on the carrots, sweet potatoes, green beans, cauliflower, broccoli, green onions, mushrooms, beets, radishes, kohlrabi, parnsnips, squash, zucchini, Yes, please! bringing these vegetables along with baby eggplants to the party! That’s a must, although
Once you tried this Texmpura Baby Eggplants, its kind of a one vegetable party…
Have fun, Enjoy!

tempura-ingredients

Tempura Tex-m-pura Baby Eggplants

Serves 4-6 people

24 Baby eggplants, any kind will work, I used graffiti baby eggplants.
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1- 1 ½ cups grape seed oil or peanut oil to fry.
½ teaspoon sesame oil (optional), if you have it great it will give more flavor to the oil.
For the batter:
½ cup flour
½ cup cornstarch
1 egg
¼ teaspoon korean chili powder
1 pinch of salt
If making tempura: ¾ cup cold topo chico or any mineral water of your affection.
OR
If making tex-m-pura*: ¾ cup cold Ale I used “the naked nun”from Adelbert’s Brewery. Use any other citrus-y ale beer of your affection.
For Tex-mpura, substitute the fizzy water for a ligh or ambar beer of your affection. My suggestion, I love Austin, Adelbert’s Brewery its a local beer and my choice for this recipe will be “the naked nun” why well, as they described their beer: “THE ALE:  This ale has a well-rounded aroma of citrus notes, clove, and apple. It is refreshing and soft, with balanced hints of bitter orange peel and coriander”.

For the dipping sauce:
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons water
2 teaspoons rice vinegar
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 teaspoosn honey
2 generous pinches of korean chili powder to sprinkle on the baby eggplants when serving.

Preparation method:
1. Cut the baby eggplants in fourths leaving the steam on, being careful not to cut all the way trough.
2. In a large bowl toss eggplants with 2 tablespoons of cornstarch.

how-to-cook-baby-eggplants
3. Make the dipping sauce by combining all ingredients. Set aside.
4. Prepare the tempura batter: On a medium size bowl combine the flour, cornstarch, chilli powder and salt, whisk. Add egg and fizzy mineral water OR the beer and whisk until just combined. Place batter bowl over a bowl with ice, and refigerate for 5 minutes, while your oil comes to temperature. One of the secrets for crispy tempura is to keep the batter chilled.

tempura-tex-mpura-batter-yes-more-please
5. In a small tall pot add the oil and heat it up to 350F/ 175C use a frying thermometer for best results.
Once the oil has reached the temperature, test your oil by dropping some batter into the oil. It should come afloat immediately. Now, take each eggplant by the steam and dip it on the cold tempura batter, promptly and carefully, gently drop the eggplant on the oil. With the help of a fork, drizzle on fast zigzag motion some of the batter on top of the eggplant that is on the oil. This will give extra bits of crispy batter morsels. Wait 1-2 minutes, and using some wood chopsticks or a spider skimmer and  flip the eggplant to the other side, wait 1 more minute, until its beautiful and light golden brown, take it out and place it on a wire rack.
Depending upon the size of your frying pot, you can fry 2-3 at the time, monitor the oil temperature every time you start a new batch. Too hot oil will scorch the batter, too cold oil will yield oily tempura.
Once you find your frying rhythm this process goes really fast!

how-to-fry-tempura_yes-more-please

tempura-baby-eggplants_yes-more-pleasetempura-texmpura-baby-eggplants

Serve immediately, eat while is warm, dip munch, crisp, repeat… enjoy!

Music Pairing: 17 Hippies “Saragina Rumba” Live in Berlin

5 from 1 vote
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Tempura Tex-m-pura Baby Eggplants

www.yes-moreplease.com

THis might be the ultimate way to eat baby eggplants, crispy and creamy tender inside.

Course Appetizer, Side Dish
Cuisine FUSION, Japanese
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 6 ninja-tex

Ingredients

  • 24 Baby eggplants, any kind will work, I used graffiti baby eggplants.
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch, for dusting the eggplants
  • 1- 1 ½ cups grape seed oil or peanut oil, to fry. to fry.
  • ½ teaspoon sesame oil (optional), if you have it great it will give more flavor to the oil.

For the batter:

  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2-4 pinches korean chili powder, some to use in the batter , some to sprinkle on the baby eggplants when serving.

For the dipping sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 teaspoons rice vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons honey

Instructions

  1. 1. Cut the baby eggplants in fourths leaving the steam on, being careful not to cut all the way trough.

    2. In a large bowl toss eggplants with 2 tablespoons of cornstarch.

    3. Make the dipping sauce. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside.

    4. Prepare the tempura batter: On a medium size bowl combine the flour, cornstarch, chilli powder and salt, whisk. Add egg and fizzy mineral water OR the beer and whisk until just combined. Place batter bowl over a bowl with ice, and refigerate for 5 minutes, while your oil comes to temperature.

    5. In a small tall pot add the oil and heat it up to 350F/ 175C use a frying thermometer for best results.

    6. Once the oil has reached the temperature, test your oil by dropping some batter into the oil. It should come afloat immediately. Now, take each eggplant by the steam and dip it on the cold tempura batter, promptly and carefully, gently drop the eggplant on the oil. With the help of a fork, drizzle on fast zigzag motion some of the batter on top of the eggplant that is on the oil. This will give extra bits of crispy batter morsels. Wait 1-2 minutes, and using some wood chopsticks or a spider skimmer and  flip the eggplant to the other side, wait 1 more minute, until its beautiful and light golden brown, take it out and place it on a wire rack.

    Depending upon the size of your frying pot, you can fry 2-3 at the time, monitor the oil temperature every time you start a new batch. Too hot oil will scorch the batter, too cold oil will yield oily tempura.
Once you find your frying rhythm this process goes really fast!

    Serve immediately, eat while is warm, dip munch, crisp, repeat... enjoy!

Recipe Notes

 

*For Tex-mpura, substitute the fizzy water for a ligh or ambar beer of your affection. My suggestion, I love Austin, Adelbert's Brewery its a local beer and my choice for this recipe will be “the naked nun” why well, as they described their beer: "THE ALE:  This ale has a well-rounded aroma of citrus notes, clove, and apple. It is refreshing and soft, with balanced hints of bitter orange peel and coriander".

Hello! That's what I want on my batter!

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Oaxacan Frittata

Oaxacan-Frittata_Yes,-more-please!

Frittatas are the best way to transform simple ingredients into a magnificent meal. It’s the goodness of pie without the crust. With their lightly crusty edges, creamy soft centers, easy comfort, and the fact that almost every ingredient can play and sing along embedded in custardy creamy eggs, frittatas are the perfect Summer companion, and this Oaxacan Frittata is the one you want this summer by your side.

This Frittata is all about the Oaxacan Jewel tomatoes I grew in my little garden. I love how the combination of custardy eggs and “Quesillo” a.k.a Oaxaca Cheese, compliment the flavor of the tomatoes with out masking them. Even when cooked, the tomatoes hold their fresh and juicy flavor. The melted strings of Oaxacan cheese along with fresh herbs and a sprinkle of flaky sea salt make this Frittata the object of my Summer affection.

A Frittata for breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner, under-dressed, over-dressed, with a glass of Texas Rose’ wine or a glass of milk, crusty artisanal bread or a simple green salad, warm or cold, one gorgeous ingredient or with leftovers from your vegetable basket, a Frittata is a bare necessity,  a recipe you should always have under your sleeve.

Enjoy the Summer!

Oaxacan-Frittata-Ingredients

Oaxacan-Frittata-Stringy-Cheese--quesillo-Queso-Oaxaca

Oaxacan Frittata

A few tricks and bits, like using a cast iron skillet is a must, it makes for an evenly cooked frittata along with a good drizzle of oil in combination with butter to crisp up the frittata’s bottom and edges.
When frittatas are cooked slow and at low temperature in the oven or on the stove top it produces the most magical situation; a crusty bottom and edges while keeping the top and center creamy. Always cover with a lid if you want to avoid the flipping. If you like a crusty top, sprinkle some dry cheese like parmesan or manchego, or a combination of one of these cheeses and a few panko bread crumbs on top of the frittata right at the end of the cooking time. Place the frittata under the broiler or salamander for a quick 1-2 minutes until slightly golden brown, and you’ll have the so desirable crusty top.

Serves 4 hungry gardeners

1-1/2 lb Heirloom tomatoes I used a combination of Oaxacan Jewel “hint the recipe name”, Cherokee, and Cherry tomatoes
2-3 green Mexican onions, if using scallions use 4 including the white part
1 serrano, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons Sunflower oil
1 tablespoon butter

8-10 eggs
1/3 cup Mexican Crema, Oaxaca style if possible, or Crème Fraîche will do to.
2 cups shredded Oaxacan cheese, aka quesillo
1-2 fresh sprigs of Oregano remove leaves, and roughly chop.
1 fresh sprig of Epazote, or/ Mexican Marigold Mint. Remove leaves, and roughly chop.
Sea salt and Black pepper to season

 

Cooking Preparation:

1. Cut the tomatoes.
I like to cut each tomatoe differently so you and your guests can recognize each tomatoe when is cooked. Besides, the fact it looks more appetizing, they hold their shape better when cooked, and by removing some of the fleshy seeds your frittata will not get soggy. So, I sliced the large tomatoes, halved the cherry tomatoes, and cut in wedges, and removed the fleshy seeds on the the medium size cherokees.

Oaxacan-Frittata-Heirloom-Tomatoes
2. In a 9″ cast Iron pan quick sauté green onions, garlic, and serrano until bright green. Set aside to stop cooking.
3. Quick sauté the tomatoes. Set them aside.
4. Whisk the eggs, crema, black pepper a pinch of sea salt, sprinkle some of the herbs.

Egg-Frittata_Yes-More-please!
5. Into the cast Iron pan, add a drizzle of sunflower oil, a layer of half of the tomatoes, 2/3 of the sredded oaxacan cheese and half of the custard. Then add the rest of the tomatoes, on an even layer, and top with the rest of the Oaxaca Cheese sprinkle the rest of the herbs, crank some fresh black pepper, sea salt, and a drizzle of olive oil.

Oaxacan-Frittata_Easy-Comfort-Yes,-more-please!
6.Place the frittata in the oven, and bake at 325F for 12-15 minutes or until top and center is just set but slightly giggly. Remove from oven and cover for a few minutes. The remainder heat will cook the egg center, with out over cooking the edges.

 If you like a crusty top, sprinkle some dry cheese like parmesan or manchego, or a combination of one of these cheeses and a few panko bread crumbs on top of the frittata right at the end of the cooking time. Place the frittata under the broiler or salamander for a quick 1-2 minutes until slightly golden brown, watch at all times to avoid  burning, and you’ll have the so desirable crusty top.

Oaxacan-Frittata-Ready-for-the-Oven
7. Let Frittata set for 5- 10 minutes before serving, it will help set and you can slice it easily. Serve along with a green salad, crusty bread, or what ever rocks your boat, Enjoy!

Oaxacan-Mexican-Frittata_Yes,-more-please!

Oaxacan Summer Frittata

Music Pairing: Jeepers Creepers 1958 Louis Armstrong and Jack Teagarden

One of  the best versions out there, ever recorded!

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Oaxacan Frittata

www.yes-moreplease.com

A few tricks and bits, like using a cast iron skillet is a must, it makes for an evenly cooked frittata along with a good drizzle of oil in combination with butter to crisp up the frittata’s bottom and edges.

When frittatas are cooked slow and at low temperature in the oven or on the stove top it produces the most magical situation; a crusty bottom and edges while keeping the top and center creamy. Always cover with a lid if you want to avoid the flipping. If you like a crusty top, sprinkle some dry cheese like parmesan or manchego, or a combination of one of these cheeses and a few panko bread crumbs on top of the frittata right at the end of the cooking time. Place the frittata under the broiler or salamander for a quick 1-2 minutes until slightly golden brown, and you’ll have the so desirable crusty top.

Course Breakfast, Brunch, Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine Mexican-Italian
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 4 Hungry gardeners!

Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 lbs. Heirloom tomatoes, I used: Oaxacan Jewel, Cherokee, sungold and cherry tomatoes.
  • 2-3 Green Onions, finelly sliced, include the green parts
  • 1 Serrano pepper, thinly sliced
  • 2 Garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons Sunflower Oil
  • 1 tablespoon Butter
  • 8-10 large farm eggs
  • 1/3 cup Mexican Crema, or Crème Fraîche will do.
  • 2 cups Oaxacan cheese aka quesillo, shredded
  • 1-2 sprigs fresh Oregano, remove leaves,and roughly chop.
  • 1 sprig fresh Epazote, remove leaves,and roughly chop.
  • Sea salt and Black Pepper, for season.

Instructions

  1. 1. Cut the tomatoes.I like to cut each tomatoe differently so you and your guests can recognize each tomatoe when is cooked. Besides, the fact it looks more appetizing, they hold their shape better when cooked, and by removing some of the fleshy seeds your frittata will not get soggy. So, I sliced the large tomatoes, halved the cherry tomatoes, and cut in wedges, and removed the fleshy seeds on the the medium size cherokees.

    2. In a 9″ cast Iron pan quick sauté green onions, garlic, and serrano until bright green. Set aside to stop cooking.

    3. Quick sauté the tomatoes. Set them aside.

    4. Whisk the eggs, crema, black pepper a pinch of sea salt, sprinkle some of the herbs.

    5. Into the cast Iron pan, add a drizzle of sunflower oil, a layer of half of the tomatoes, 2/3 of the sredded oaxacan cheese and half of the custard. Then add the rest of the tomatoes, on an even layer, and top with the rest of the Oaxaca Cheese sprinkle the rest of the herbs, crank some fresh black pepper, sea salt, and a drizzle of olive oil.

    6.Place the frittata in the oven, and bake at 325F for 12-15 minutes or until top and center is just set but slightly giggly. Remove from oven and cover for a few minutes. The remainder heat will cook the egg center, with out over cooking the edges.

    If you like a crusty top, sprinkle some dry cheese like parmesan or manchego, or a combination of one of these cheeses and a few panko bread crumbs on top of the frittata right at the end of the cooking time. Place the frittata under the broiler or salamander for a quick 1-2 minutes until slightly golden brown, watch at all times to avoid burning, and you’ll have the so desirable crusty top.

    7. Let the Frittata set for 5- 10 minutes before serving, it will help set and you can slice it easily. Serve along with a green salad, crusty bread, or what ever rocks your boat, Enjoy!

    Happy cooking!

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Radish Pineapple Mint Quinoa Salad

Candela-di-focuo-Radishes_harvest-2016_Yes,-more-please!

Back in February I started a little garden plot at the Mueller Community Gardens in my neighborhood. First months were rough. I started from seeds that my good friend Elizabeth gave me. Imagine all the possibilities when you are handed a box full of incredible heirloom seeds varieties from purple long green beans, carrots, greens, turnips, roman zucchinis, watermelon cucumbers, radishes, lipstick chili, melons you name it. . Little did I know the challenging scenarios of starting a vegetable garden from seeds. But, nothing like five buckets of patience, a couple good days of rain, plenty of steamy sunshine and a little everyday care to make it grow. Also helpful was the good pinch of serious advice from friends and the experts, like farmer extraordinaire from Boogy Creek Farm, Carol Anne. She is always willing to help and giving the greatest advice. From her I learned that planting a row of green beans beside the tomato plants will give tomatoes company and will help them grow together. She also emphasize the importance to give enough space in between tomato plants for best flavor and juicy tomatoes, and pointed that leggy tomato plants need to be transplanted deeper among many other details that have been very valuable to apply on my little, garden. Also every other good samaritan that was visiting the community gardens, like David, who gave me advice from seedling spacing to how to keep the water hose untangled! I’m very grateful for all. Thank you!

Using the best of advice, applying it, and with all my expectations tossed through the window, the garden worked its own magic on a serendipitous way.

Mueller Community Gardens

Ian-McEnroe_Yes,-more-please!

One day Ian and I arrived to our plot to water the plants and take some pictures of the vegetable progress, and all of the sudden we where harvesting our first…Radishes!
I start digging the first radishes out with the same impetus that a kid shows on christmas morning.
First radishes came out easily and they were beautiful long legged radishes that looked like ballerinas, and yogis to me. Ian went crazy on full camera mode!, then I kept digging and digging for about 15 minutes in order to pull out in one piece, what seemed to be a huge radish. When it finally came out, to our own surprise the biggest radish creature with the craziest shape I ever seen. There it was pure Wabi-Sabi Beauty!~ A gigantic Candela di Fuoco heirloom radish with an octopus syndrome, intense pinkish red top, and creamy white tips. Absolutely astonishing. I think the smile this radish put on my face lasted for 3 days. Who knew that a radish could bring you such a ridiculous amount of happiness.

Harvesting-a-radish

Mariana-McEnroe_Cooking-blog_Yes,more-please!

Candela-di-focuo-Radish_harvest-2016_Yes,-more-please!

After the radish harvest, we went home and eat a couple of them, they tasted incredibly crisp, fresh, spicy, with a clean sweet juicy ending. We took some beauty shots, and then I started to imagine on a radish recipe. Fresh, crispy, crunchy, juicy, spicy all the elements I had in that first radish bite. Thats what this salad its all about. No fuss just fresh ingredients.

I know It is a little to late for radish season, but as you can guess I’m on the learning process of timing it right. These radishes were our first and last winter mini crop of 6 radishes! from little ones to the big craziest octopus shaped radish, and we are very proud of it. Last weekend I transformed the plot to Summer vegetables. Tomato season is coming and I am thrilled. Plants are on the go and growing at a good speed.

I hope this little garden adventure brings you some garden inspiration.
I would love for you to feel encouraged to either grow your own vegetables or if that is not the way you groove, get out there on the hunt to buy the freshest Farmers Market vegetables you can, because it will always, always make the biggest difference on flavor when you are cooking.

Enjoy the rest of the radishes while you can!Shaving-Radishes_Yes,-more-please!

Radish-Pineapple-Mint-Quinoa-Salad_fresh-radishes_Yes,-more-please!

Radish Pineapple Mint Quinoa Salad

1 cup toasted, and cooked Red Quinoa
3/4 cup thinly sliced radishes any kind of spicy radish will work, cherry bells, watermelon, crimson, I used what I harvested Candela di Fuoco.
2 cups pineapple cut into small chunky wedges
1/2 small red onion thinly sliced in half moons
1-2 habaneros finely chopped
5-6 sprigs of mint, use just the leaves, and torn with your fingers
3-4 good drizzles Extra Virgin Olive Oil
the juice of one large lime
the juice of half an orange
Sea Salt to taste

A few crushed cashews, pine nuts or peanuts to garnish.*optional

Preparation Method:

1. Toast the quinoa lightly before cooking. 1/2 cup dry quinoa to 3/4-cup water. bring water to boil, add the toasted quinoa, bring to a simmer,lower down the heat, cover the pot with a lid and cook for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat, leave the pot covered for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, your quinoa will be al-dente and a bit crunchy, which is the perfect texture for this salad. Fluff quinoa with a fork and extend it on a plate to cool it down. If you have leftover quinoa from the night before , bring it on it works great!
2. Chop, chopp, chop the rest of ingredients.
3. Mix everything on a bowl drizzle with a grassy Extra Virgin Olive Oil, squeeze those citrus, season with Sea Salt, chill for a few minutes before is ready to serve.

Chopping-Vegetables_Yes,-more-please!Radish-Pineapple-Mint-Quinoa-Salad_Best-salad-for-grilled-fish

Radish-Pineapple-Mint-Quinoa-Salad_Yes,-more-please!

This Salad is best served with grilled fish, shrimp, soy marinated thick slices of extra firm tofu, pork chops, grilled chicken…
Enjoy!

Music Pairing: Bia – Mariana

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Vegetable Taco Fillings A Mexican love letter to Vegetables

Vegetable Taco Fillings_Ideas_ recipes _Yes, more please!

Feelings…. nothing more than Fillings”… Hello friends, we’re back.We have been on a roller coaster; from a vacation in Mexico, to Slow Wine Festival, meeting new people, giving cooking classes, Ian giving lots of photography classes…we have been busy, but you have always been on our minds.

Visiting my Mexico after more than eight years was reinvigorating. Being back in my birth country was very fulfilling and I felt my roots strongly. We were welcomed at the airport with a big familiar smile and , thankfully, we did not have to get in the long customs line. During the visit we could eat and breathe the delicious in-season ingredients that Baja produces; from papayas, to avocados, chiles, lettuce, pineapples, limes, guanabanas, tomatoes, chard, radishes, you name it!. I just felt like a fish back in the water, especially walking along the pristine coastline. Now I’m melancholic… its hard to forget the people, the laughs, the air and the sea… and the food. From freshness, flavor, aroma, ingredients, preparations, sazones… can you imagine? Good thing we just visited one little town…Phew!

I have harnessed the melancholy and channeled it into a love letter to every Vegan and Vegetarian who has felt neglected by the Taco Love. Yes baby, not one, not two, but EIGHT vegetable fillings that will add vitamin “V” (vegetable) on any Taco night!

Some are more seasonal than others but I kept in mind vegetables that can be accessible almost all year around. I came up with these delicious and simple variations with strong MEXICAN flavors, no wimpy vegetable tacos here.

You can whip-up these recipes any day of the week, choose one, or two, or three for variety sake or just try one each day and call it the Taco week. Want to go the extra mile? try  making your homemade tortillas here recipe and tutorial.

For this post we decided no step-by-step photos are necessary. These vegetable taco filling recipes are so easy to prepare using basic chopping, seasoning, and sautéing that you can make them faster than you can say chiffonade. All fillings are Gluten free, Vegetarian and Vegan, except for one filling, but I included some vegan substitutions.

I hope you enjoy this vegetable rant of inspiration while my inner Mexican is fully inspired. Enjoy!

P.S Recipes dedicated with love to the Panda’s and their Neighbors, thank you for your friendship. Xoxo

{Lately, we have been reading, and watching many documentaries that have resonated with and influenced our way of eating and cooking. For example we watched one about food production and agriculture. We are of the opinion that its a good idea to put more effort toward cooking a vegetable main dish more than once a week. Perhaps it should be the other way around, one day of meat and the rest days of vegetables as I rant on instagram… What you think?}

Vegetable Taco Fillings, a Mexican love letter to Vegetables

1.Roasted Cauliflower in Salsa VerdeCauliflower-in-Salsa-Verde_Vegetable-Taco-Filling_Yes,-more-please!

Holly shubangwuah!, I can eat this roasted Cauliflower in salsa Verde by the spoonfuls. Cauliflower when roasted becomes sweet and nutty and all this crispy salty edges that when in combination with the tangy spicy tomatillo salsa verde the flavors just warm you up. Leave this little florets navegate in the saucy verde salsa, be generous with the salsa.

A must try. You want to have this quick recipe under your sleeve for any given day of the week. Do not limit yourself using this recipe for just the taco filling. This delicious Cauliflower in salsa Verde can be serve on a bed or rice or a side of whole buttery beans and you have a winner for dinner. Garnish with queso fresco, a dollop of yogurt freshly made tortillas…

Serves 4-6 taco using regular size 5” corn tortillas

½ Medium Cauliflower head separated in small florets.

12 medium Tomatillos peeled and washed.

1-2 Serrano chiles roasted until chard.

¼ white onion roasted until chard.

1 garlic clove

6-8 Cilantro sprigs

sea salt and pepper to taste

1 tablespoon sunflower or corn oil + more to drizzle.

In a small pot

In a small pot place 1 cup of water, tomatillos cut in halves, a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer until tomatillos changed color, look olive-green, and they are smash-able. Set aside.

Pre-heat the oven at 425 F. Place cauliflower florets, chiles, and onion piece on a baking sheet lined with foil. Drizzle some oil and sprinkle salt and pepper. Roast the Cauliflower for 8-12 minutes or until golden brown and some chard edges showing. When chiles and Onion are charred, pull the baking tray out of the oven. In a blender add the cooked tomatillos strained, ¼ cup of water in which the tomatillos where cooked, charred onion, chiles, fresh cilantro, raw garlic, and few healthy pinches of sea salt. Blend until pureed.

In a skillet add 1 tablespoon sunflower oil or corn oil bring to heat, and carefully add the green sauce until bubbly, cook for 5-7 minutes. At this point add the roasted cauliflower florets, toss well, adjust for salt and its ready to serve!

2. Cremini Mushrooms Ajillo – GuajilloCremini Mushrooms Ajillo-Guajillo_Vegetable-Taco-Filling_Yes,-more-please! copy copy

Mexico has a great variety of mushrooms and various preparations can be found. Often they are cooked in simple manners to make them shine. Like inside quesadillas, soups, or quick sautéed with herbs. My take on this mushrooms, a little butter, garlic and a hint of chile guajillo wich it adds a very settle flavor, not spicy at all but a punch of color and flavor to the sautéed creminis. I will highly recommend this mushrooms on top of queso fundido, quesadillas a bowl of buttery beans or with a sunny side up egg for breakfast. Honestly once you try these mushrooms you will be making a double batch next time…

Serves 4-6 taco using regular size 5” corn tortillas

16oz. Cremini Mushrooms sliced

2 dry Guajillo peppers

1 teaspoon ancho chili powder

5 garlic cloves finely chopped

2 tablespoons sunflower oil-corn oil

3 tablespoons of butter (for vegans, use coconut oil)

Sea salt and pepper to taste

Using Kitchen scissors cut the guajillo across and into small thin rings. Discard seeds and steam.

Bring a cast iron skillet to a medium high heat. Warm oil, place the guajillo rings and sauté for 2-3 minutes until they are crispy. Remove promptly from skillet into a paper towel. By now the oil color in the skillet looks bright orange. Add the sliced mushrooms, sea salt and black pepper. Saute for 5-6 minutes until mushrooms start sweating and some of them have little golden crisp edges, add one more drizzle of oil if needed. Once the mushrooms start looking cooked, add garlic, butter and 12 pinches of salt. Saute for 3-4 minutes. Add the crispy Trujillo rings back into the skillet. Saute briefly until well incorporated. Remove from skillet and its ready to serve.

If you are on a spicier mode use a Pasilla, Ancho or Cascabel chile to bring out the heat. Or a dollop of this Mucha Muchacha Salsa.

3. Sweet Potato and Pineapple Pastor Sweet Potato and Pineapple Pastor_Vegetable-Taco-Filling_Yes,-more-please! copy copy

Ok hands down my favorite Vegan-Pastor. These Sweet potatoes Pastor are the bomb.

Spicy Pastor adobo and the sweetness in the potatoes are a match made in heaven. The orangey color even helps to make them more visually appealing. The Pineapple is a must on this recipe, plan accordingly. Vegetarians, vegans and Meat lovers are gonna love this one.

Serves 4-6 taco using regular size 5” corn tortillas

2 Medium sweet potatoes, washed, peeled and cut into one inch batonnets

¼ cup white onion diced

2 chile chipotles en adobo

1 teaspoon anatto powder or achiote paste

½ tablespoon ancho chili powder

½ teaspoon garlic powder

½ teaspoon Mexican dry oregano

¼ teaspoon cumin powder

1 bay leaf

½ teaspoon brown sugar

½ teaspoon salt

2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

½ cup Fresh Pineapple

2 tablespoons Corn or Sunflower Oil.

On a blender, immersion blender, molcajete or mortar, combine until pureed the chipotles, achiote, ancho chili powder, garlic powder, oregano, cumin powder, bay leaf, brown sugar, salt and vinegar. On a bowl combine the sweet potatoes and this chili pastor paste. Let marinate for at least 30 min. Best overnight.

Heat a cast iron skillet on medium high heat, add the oil until ripples, add the onion and sauté until translucent. Add the marinated Sweet potatoes. Cook until the sweet potatoes are tender and they have a crusty golden char exterior. To achieve this crusty potatoes is best not to shake them to often, to allow them to get a crust. Make sure there is enough oil so they don’t scorch before they are tender and cooked, you can add another drizzle. Sweet potatoes should be a little aldente. Remove from skillet transfer to a bowl. Then add Pineapple slivers or little squares into the skillet and sauté for a few minutes. Add sweet potatoes back to the skillet and toss. Transfer to a platter and you are ready to make the tacos. I will recommend this tomatillo avocado salsa verde, it is part of other recipe look for it its amazing!..and of course a squeeze of lime… mmm..

4. Poblano and Sweet Corn RajasPoblano and Sweet Corn Rajas_Vegetable-Taco-Filling_Yes,-more-please!

This Poblano Corn and crema filling is very traditional and often used as filling for sopes, huaraches and tacos. Traditionally this recipe is made with white corn, to be honest if you can get fresh white corn for this recipe it will be fantastic. Living in the States, well you make some concessions and adjust to the best ingredients you can find. I used sweet yellow corn for this recipe and I think the sweetness of the yellow corn balances really well with the smokey and sometimes unexpectedly spicy roasted poblanos. Add an extra pinch of salt and you have one of the most scrumptious taco fillings. Check for Vegan substitutions at the end of the recipe.

Serves 4-6 taco using regular size 5” corn tortillas

2 ear of corn kernels

2 chiles poblanos, roasted or charred, skinned, deveined removed seeds and cut into long stripes. See this method

½ medium white onion

1 garlic clove minced

¼ -1/3 cup crema oaxaquena, mexican crema or heavy cream as last resource*

1 splash of milk.

1 Tablespoon Corn or Sunflower oil

1 tablespoon butter

Salt and Pepper to taste.

On a skillet over a medium heat, warm up oil and sauté the onions, until translucent. Add the corn Kernels, season with salt and pepper and sauté for 3-5 minutes. Add the strips of poblano, and toss well. Add the crema, and a little splash of milk. Adjust salt and pepper, toss well. And bring to slow simmer. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Transfer to a platter and they are ready to serve!

Vegan Substitutions: unsweetened coconut cream, or ½ coconut ½ tahini paste.

 

5. Kale a la Mexicana

Kale a la Mexicana_Vegetable-Taco-Filling_Yes,-more-please!

The easiest way to Mexicanize your vegetables is the tri-color ingredient, basic mexican recaudo, white onion, chile serrano and tomatoes. This recaudo is usually the base for scrambled eggs, “a la Mexicana, or other quick chicken or fajitas preparation. It is easy and a classic. Kale, Chard, Spinach, Mustard Greens, Purslane, Lambs Quarters, every green  “a la Mexicana” can be delicious.  Use different kinds of tomatoes, or kinds of fresh chiles can be a great variation.  I think is quick recipe is one of my favorite ways to prepare and incorporate kale into the Mexican Table… Breakfast?…Put an egg on it, or make a taco with a scrambled eggs concoction. What you think?

Serves 4-6 taco using regular size 5” corn tortillas

½ medium yellow onion

1 Serrano small diced or thinly slices

3 cups Lacinato kale chopped into thin ribbons

½ cup cherry tomatoes

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

Salt and Pepper to taste.

Heat a cast iron skillet, over a medium high heat. Add oil and diced onions, quick sauté until translucent edges. Add Serrano, salt and pepper. Quick toss. Add Kale and vinegar, toss quickly and sauté until kale begins to welt. Add cherry tomatoes toss quickly until they warm up. Taste for salt and pepper, adjust seasoning if necessary. Transfer to a bowl or platter serve immediately.

6. Chipotle Soy Picadillo Chipotle Soy Picadillo_Vegetable-Taco-Filling_Yes,-more-please! copy copy

Picadillo is a typical homemade dish. One pot wonder, the original dish uses a combination of ground meat, lots of vegetables, sometimes you can find sweet picadillos for chiles en nogada, or like this version wich is the homestyle spicy chipotle version. I decided to use texturized soy wich is often used in vegetarian Mexican cooking. The brands I prefer, Bob Red’s Mill or Now Foods are my favorites they are organic and texture and taste is great. Yo also can find this TVP at Natural groceries  on the bulk section. This Picadillo its one pot wonder a great way to incorporate vegetables into this taco situation…I hope you like it!

Serves 4-6 taco using regular size 5” corn tortillas

1 cup texturized soy, follow the package instrucctions to rehidrate.

½ meddium size onion finelly chopped

1 garlic clove minced

4-5 Worcestershire sauce (if vegan, add 1 tablespoon of tomato paste or a couple of sundry tomatoes, and a few more dashes of black pepper)

1 small potato small diced

1 carrot small diced

1 small mexican calabazita (light green zucchini) small diced

¼ cup peas

½ cup small diced tomatoes

2 chiles chipotles en adobo plus about 1 teaspoon of the adobo juices and purée it.

(I like “La Morena” or “San Marcos”Brand)

½ teaspoon dry Mexican oregano

1 tablespoon Corn, Sunflower oil, or extra virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper to your taste.

On a cast iron skillet, over medium hight heat, add the oil and onions until translucent. Add the diced potatoes, salt pepper, cover with a lid until potatoes are al-dente. Add garlic saute for 1 minute. Add the texturized soy and 4-5 dashes of Worcestershire sauce. Saute for 5 minutes. (Make sure the texturized soy is well hydrated, and remove all water excess before cooking) At his point add the diced tomatoes, the chipotle purée, and dry oregano. Saute for 1-2 minutes. Add ¼ cup of water, carrots, zucchini, salt and pepper. Toss well. Lower the temperature, and cover with a lid for 5 minutes, until carrots are cooked but not mushy. At last, add the peas and toss, taste , adjust for salt and pepper if necessary. Turn off and cover with a lid until peas are cooked but still bright green. Serve immediately. This filling can be made in advance and it tastes even better the next day, Enjoy!

7. Nopalitos and Onions in Guajillo – Pasilla SauceNopalitos and Onions in Guajillo-Pasilla Sauce_Vegetable-Taco-Filling_Yes,-more-please! copy copy

Nopalitos Cactus plant is known to have a slimy reputation, but when you cook them right, and utilizing the right ingredients, Nopalitos are delicious. They are tangy and soft, the texture and flavor reminds me like if an ocra and a mushroom had a child. The guajillo – pasilla sauce add great flavor and contrast to the tangy nopalito flavor. Nopalitos beside being a nacional simbol on the Mexican flag, are the miracle vegetable. So many nutritious value and health elixirs attributes, you just want to start researching now!… Seriously, give these nopalitos a chance and you will love them.

Serves 4-6 taco using regular size 5” corn tortillas

6 Tender Nopalitos pieces, cut into small squares.

¼ medium size onion

6 sprigs of cilantro

4-5 tomatillo husks

1 chile serrano

1 teaspoon salt

½ onion diced

2 good drizzles of extra virgin olive oil, or sunflower oil.

For the sauce:

2 dry chiles pasilla

2 dry chiles guajillo

1 garlic clove

1/8 teaspoon cumin powder

½ teaspoon salt

Clean chiles and remove steams. On a small pot, place 2 cups water bring to a boil, add the chiles, simmer for 10 minutes until well hydrated, soft and plumpy. In a blender, purée the chiles, garlic, cumin, salt with about ¼-to a ½ cup of the water in wich the chiles hydrated.

Set aside. On another pot start cooking the Nopalitos. Add at least 4 cups of water, the nopalitos squares, onion, cilantro, tomatillo husks, chile serrano, salt. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat to low simmer and cook for 20 minutes. Check for doneness. Nopalitos should look olive-green, and fork tender. Remove cooked onion, cilantro and serrano. Strain the nopalitos and let the heat evaporate the rest of the water in them. About 4-5 minutes. By any chance, rinse them in water. These will make them slimy.

On a skillet, warm up the oil and add the diced onion, along with the dry nopalitos. And saute for 3-4 minutes, until onions are soft. Add the Guajillo-Pasilla Sauce, toss well, add about ¼ cup of water if needed. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cook on medium low for 4-5 minutes with lid on to avoid splatters. Turn off the nopalitos and they are ready to serve! You can sprinkle some queso fresco or cotija for a delicious accompaniment on the taco, and off course a few drops of lime juice, because what would be a taco with no lime right?…

8. Chard, Potatoes, and Shredded Carrot HashChard, Potatoes, and Shredded Carrot hash_Vegetable-Taco-Filling_Yes,-more-please! copy

This is the easiest of all the fillings. It is almost a hash. You can use spinach, purslane, kale or any type of green in season instead of the chard. Instead of potatoes you can use sweet potatoes, or zucchini. Carrots or/and yellow beets will work divine. This filling with an egg on it and a dollop of my favorite Mucha Muchacha Salsa, a match made in heaven. 

Serves 4-6 taco using regular size 5” corn tortillas

2-3 drizzles sunflower oil or extra virgin olive oil

1 medium wax yellow potato

1 small yellow onion diced

1 garlic clove

1-2 dry chiltepines…optional you can use pepper flakes for a less heated version.

2 carrots shredded or using one of my favorite tools  a  Julianne peeler. click here

4-5 cups Chard, cut into chiffonade

2 dashes of apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon golden raisins

Salt pepper to taste

Pepitas (pumpkin seeds) for garnish

On a cast iron skillet warm up the oil, saute potatoes and season with salt and pepper until potatoes are crispy. At this point add the onions , garlic and dry chiltepines crushed. (crush the chiltepines on a napkin. Avoid using your fingers directly to prevent chili burns.) Add the Juliane carrots, toss well saute for 1 minute. Add the Chard, raisins, apple cider vinegar salt and pepper. Toss well and briefly about 2 minutes. Just when the chard starts to welt, remove from heat and taste for salt ad pepper adjust if needed. Serve immediately, garnish tacos with pepitas, queso fresco or a dollop of greek yogurt.   Enjoy!

Make a Taco Tuesday…Wednesday, Thursday… Weekends…

Have fun and Let’s eat MORE VEGETABLES!!!

Music Pairing: A su Merced el Mercado- Liliana Felipe

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