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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!

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Cauliflower Chowder

Cauliflower-Chowder_cauliflower-Yes,-more-please!

After enjoying these days of caloric ecstasy and extravagances, it’s hard to immediately switch to the light and healthier road. It feels like you are giving a kid a candy and 5 minutes later you change that to a cucumber… it is just plain hard. All my taste buds are still in frantic mode and my serotonin levels are a roll a coaster. But Nature is wise, and perhaps knows these facts by sprouting a great Winter abundance of greens, root vegetables, cabbages and cauliflowers among other vegetables.

These are my saviors for this caloric transitional period. I need soup to warm me up and fill up my belly with out the extra filling out of my pants.. ahem.

Last weekend at my farmers market I ran into these beauties, a warm yellow and a purple cauliflower, rainbow carrots, sweet potatoes and fresh dill. How can you not be inspired when you see all this colors? Soup it is, I was craving the creamy textures and luxurious caloric meals, but with no guilt. So I decided to make an all vegetable chowder using all these winter bounty.

Cauliflower-Chowder_-rainbow-carrots-

Cauliflower has a delicate flavor. When it is cooked and pureed it resembles potatoes. You would be surprised how close you can prepare it to mimic the potato. I’m sure you’ve heard of cauliflower mashed, cauliflower rice or cauliflower mac & cheese in which this humble Brassica acts like a carb-chameleon. With this premise I started my vegetable chowder by cooking and pureeing part of the cauliflower as the soup base to give that rich starchy like consistency that characterizes a chowder. I reserved some of the cauliflower into little florets which are added latter to the soup to add texture and enhance the cauliflower flavor. The extra creamy chowderiness comes from unsweetened coconut milk which gives this soup the luxurious velvety chowder texture and it adds lots of good healthy fats that are well needed at this point of the healthy road transition. Do not fear about the coconut over taking the flavor on the soup, you barely can tell is here. Carrots, sweet potatoes and onions add sweetness, texture and light flavor. Fresh dill adds a great herbal aroma to the soup and complements the cauliflower flavor in a very delicate way.

I recommend organically grown vegetables if possible. I know that’s not easy, but increasingly supermarkets are adding those options if you don’t have access to a farmer’s market. In my opinion the flavor is better and I think with a lightly seasoned dish like this one, those flavors are going to shine through.

This Cauliflower chowder will warm you up, fulfill your starchy desires, and settle down your taste buds. I would say this soup is the ticket to redemption road.  Time to tame the growling carb lions…

You also might like this recipes:

 Grilled Cauliflower with Garlic and Cumin rub or My favorite Cauliflower Ceviche …check them out!

If you want to know more about the wonderful benefits of Cauliflower, please check out this unique and complete article, written by Helen Nichols, 28 Science-Backed Health Benefits of Cauliflower  Enjoy!

Cauliflower-Chowder_how-to-cut-Florets

Cauliflower Chowder

Serves 4 or 2 hungry Vegans.

2 small or 1 medium Cauliflower heads. Any color is great about 6-7 cups of small cauliflower florets total, use organic if possible they have the best flavor.
6-7 small carrots, diced or sliced into rounds.
I used red, yellow, and orange, use what ever is freshest available at your market.
1 medium sweet potato peeled and diced.
1/2 large sweet onion
2 garlic cloves
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 cups vegetable stock
1 – 14oz can unsweetened coconut milk/cream
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon thyme
1 sprig fresh dill, or 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon if using dry and upon your taste.
1/2 teaspoon celery salt
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika or 2 sundry tomatoes**
6-8 good cranks of fresh black pepper
1 teaspoon Sea salt

Garnish with:

Fresh dill/not fan of dill?… Basil, Thyme, Chives, Tarragon are great substitutions.
smoked paprika
(Crostini or toast drizzled with olive oil and Parmesan cheese optional)

*I used water instead of vegetable stock, because I wanted the cauliflower flavor to come through. The first time I made this soup I used vegetable stock and I felt it masked the cauliflower flavor to much. Feel free to use whatever you prefer.
** Recently I made this soup adding 2 sundry tomatoes. It was a delicious variation, it gave the chowder a slight tint of color and deep of flavor.If using sundry tomatoes add them on step four so they can soften up before pureeing the chowder.

Preparation method:

1. Chop and diced your vegetables. With a small paring knife cut the cauliflower into small florets. Reserve about 2 cups of the little florets to add to the soup at last. For this soup I used the yellow cauliflower for the soup base and the purple florets to add whole to the soup, it adds eye appeal.

Cauliflower-Chowder_Carrots-and-sweetpotatoes_cooked
2. In a small pot, bring 4 cups of salted water to a boil. Pre-cook the diced carrots and sweet potatoes for 4-5 minutes, until al-dente, rinse with cold water. Set aside.
3. Over medium-low heat in a medium size pot, add the extra virgin olive oil, and sauté the chopped onions and garlic until translucent, season with salt and pepper.
4. Once the onions are translucent, add ¾ of the cauliflower florets. Toss and add 2 cups of vegetable stock or just enough to cover the florets. Add bay leaf, thyme, fresh sprig of dill/or dry,  salt, and pepper, cover with a lid and let them cook for 7-8 minutes or until very soft and tender. Once cooked, purée them in a food processor, blender, or use an immersion blender until smooth.
5. Place this cauliflower purée back into the pot, add the coconut milk and stir well until blended. Season with celery salt, salt, paprika and black pepper. Add a bit more vegetable stock if the consistency is too thick.
6. Add the reserved mini cauliflower florets, and the pre-cooked carrots and sweet potatoes. Cover with a lid and bring to a slow simmer cook for 5 minutes. Taste and adjust the salt and pepper if necessary. Check for doneness on the vegetables; I like my vegetables on the al-dente side, not hard but not mushy. Taste them and decide if you like them softer keep cooking them for another 2-3 minutes.

Serve immediately into warm bowls, sprinkle fresh dill, a little drizzle of olive oil, salt, and fresh cracked pepper.  One or two whole wheat crostinis won’t hurt right?… Enjoy!

Cauliflower-Chowder_How-to-make-the-chowder

Cauliflower-Chowder_serve-warm-with-fresh-dill

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Cauliflower-Chowder_Warm-up!-_Yes,-more-please!

 

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Cauliflower Chowder

Course Soup
Cuisine wholesome
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 small Cauliflower heads, Any color is great about 6-7 cups of small cauliflower florets total, use organic if possible they have the best flavor.
  • 6-7 small Carrots, diced or sliced into rounds.
  • 1 medium Sweet potato, peeled and diced.
  • 1/2 large Sweet onion diced
  • 2 medium Garlic cloves
  • 3 tablespoons Extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cups Vegetable stock*
  • 1 14-0z can Unsweetened coconut milk/cream
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 teaspoon thyme, dry or fresh
  • 1 sprig fresh dill, 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon if using dry upon your taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon Celery salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon Smoked Paprika or 2 sundry tomatoes
  • 6-8 cranks Fresh Black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Sea Salt, or more upon your taste

Instructions

  1. 1. Chop and diced your vegetables. With a small pairing knife cut the cauliflower into small florets. Reserve about 2 cups of the little florets to add to the soup at last. For this soup I used the yellow cauliflower for the soup base and the purple florets to add whole to the soup, it adds eye appeal.

    2. In a small pot, bring 4 cups of salted water to a boil. Pre-cook the diced carrots and sweet potatoes for 4-5 minutes, until al-dente, rinse with cold water. Set aside.

    3. Over medium low heat in a medium size pot, add the extra virgin olive oil, and sauté the chopped onions and garlic until translucent, season with salt and pepper.  

    4. Once the onions are translucent, add ¾ of the cauliflower florets. Toss and add 2 cups of vegetable stock or just enough to cover the florets. Add bay leaf, thyme, fresh sprig of dill or dry, salt and pepper, cover with a lid and let them cook for 7-8 minutes or until very soft and tender. Once cooked, purée them in a food processor, blender, or use an immersion blender until smooth.

    5. Place this cauliflower purée back into the pot, add the coconut milk and stir well until blended. Season with celery salt, salt, paprika and black pepper. Add a bit more vegetable stock if the consistency is to thick.

    6. Add the reserved mini cauliflower florets, and the pre cooked carrots and sweet potatoes. Cover with a lid and bring to a slow simmer cook for 5 minutes. Taste and adjust the salt and pepper if necessary. Check for doneness on the vegetables; I like my vegetables on the al-dente side, not hard but not mushy. Taste them and decide if you like them softer keep cooking them for another 2-3 minutes.

    *If using sundry tomatoes add them on step 4 so they can soften before pureeing the chowder.

Music Pairing:Paris Combo- Je te vois partout”

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Grilled Cauliflower with Garlic + Cumin Rub

Grilled-Cauliflower-with-Garlic-+-Cumin-Rub-

Chef Dan Barber was the creator of the famous Cauliflower steak. His original recipe uses the whole cauliflower head. He slices two thick cauliflower wedges and sears them in a cast iron pan until the cauliflower is caramelized but al dente. He cooks the rest of the cauliflower florets in milk to make a smooth and light mash. He serves the cauliflower steak over the light cauliflower mash. The contrast in textures and different cooking methods is what makes this dish outstanding.
Cauliflower to the square; a brilliant idea.

Chef Dan’s cauliflower approach inspired me to create this recipe. Instead of contrast in textures, I wanted a contrast in flavors but chose a spice that enhanced the grilled cauliflower. With Dan’s premise of simplicity in mind, I made a four ingredient paste as a rub with garlic, cumin seeds, extra virgin olive oil and sea salt. I wish you could off been here with me when I was pressing the garlic and cumin seeds in the mortar, the smell was insanely good.  I must confess that prior this recipe I was not fond of cumin seed flavor and using cumin was totally out of my comfort zone.This recipe gave me a different outlook about it.

  I rubbed two cauliflower steaks and the rest of the loose florets with this pasty rub and grilled them. When the cauliflower was grilling the aromas were insanely good: smokey, lemony cumin and garlic.   It’s a savory aroma that squeezes your tongue from behind. I just can say that  I am converted now. These  two flavors work together so well that I see lots of cauliflower in my near feature…
Enjoy!

Grilled-Cauliflower-with-Garlic-+-Cumin-Rub-Yes,-more-please!

Grilled Cauliflower with Garlic + Cumin Rub

Serves 2 as main dish, 4 if served as a side dish.

1 Medium fresh Cauliflower head.

For the rub:

2  teaspoons cumin seeds slightly toasted.
3 medium garlic cloves
2 teaspoons sea salt. (I used grey sea salt)
1/3 – ½ cup extra virgin Olive oil.

Serve with:

Tangy Bulgarian yogurt
Grilled pita bread
Sprigs of cilantro
Fresh cracked black pepper.

Grill and natural Charcoal.

Preparation method:

1. In a small skillet over low heat, toast the cumin seeds for 2-3 minutes.
2. Using a small mortar, place the toasted cumin seeds, garlic cloves and sea salt. Start smashing these ingredients with the pestle, until it looks like a paste.
3. At this point start adding the extra virgin olive oil little a the time, and keep mixing and smashing until each oil addition is incorporated.
4. With a silicone brush rub both sides of the cauliflower slices and the florets.
5. Fire up your grill.
6. Grill the Cauliflower steaks for about 4-5 minutes per side. They should look charred and with a fork check the center core for doneness.
7. Remove from grill and serve warm with some grilled pita bread, Bulgarian yogurt, fresh cilantro, a bit of fresh black pepper and a squeeze of lemon if desired. Enjoy!

Grilled-Cauliflower-with-Garlic-+-Cumin-Rub_applying-the-rub

Grilled-Cauliflower_Yes,-more-please!

Grilled-Cauliflower-with-Garlic-+-Cumin-Rub-serve-with-yogurt,-pita-bread

 Enjoy!

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Cauliflower Ceviche

Cauliflower Ceviche_Tostada ready to eat!

The full summer weather is here! Austin, Texas is burning hot! 101-106 Fahrenheit. With this kind of summer temperatures, I can’t even conceive the idea of “grilling”. Can you imagine being outside with 101 on the thermometer in front of a grill trying to light up the charcoal?…Not my cup of tea I prefer the tundra if you ask me. But well these weather conditions fire up the indoors freshly made meals; light, crisp and lots of veggie action.

Cauliflower-Ceviche_cauliflower-florets

I tried to make this ceviche once in my years of college, not so good; it was really mushy and flavorless… but I loved the concept of using the beloved Cauliflower. Cauliflower is the vegetable everybody loves now because of its versatile flavor. It is evident that Cauliflower has a love affair with butter and cream. Mashed cauliflower can replace a good pile of mashed potatoes, cauliflower gratin, cauliflower chowder, griller, roasted, among my favorites. But what I crave in a Summery hot day is something light easy to digest, fresh and no oven or a long cooking time required.

So with this said, I revamped the cauliflower ceviche recipe from my College years by adding diced crunchy vegetables, steaming the cauliflower and lots of good fresh and dry herbs plus a punch of citrus goodness to add extra flavor. That acid, salty umami note that just makes your mouth water, as soon you start reading the recipe…

Cauliflower Ceviche is a great summery meal, for Vegetarian, Vegans and Carnivorus that won’t even care about the difference once they have the first bite!

Margaritas on the side?…Yes, please!…Enjoy!

Cauliflower-Ceviche_Yes,-more-please!

Cauliflower-Ceviche_ingredients_Yes,-more-please!

Cauliflower Ceviche

Serves 4

1 Cauliflower head, medium size. Remove the core and small diced florets.

Small diced:

2 carrots
1 tomato
½ medium size red onion
2 green onions including the green part.
1 cucumber seedless
1 long celery stalk
1 habanero, or 1 jalapeno, or 1 serrano. (Remove the seeds for a less spicy version.)
2 Tablespoons of finely chopped fresh cilantro
2 Tablespoons of finely chopped fresh parsley
2-3 pinches of dried oregano

The juice of:

2 Limes
1 Lemon
The juice and zest of ½ Orange
2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
4 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 teaspoon celery salt
1 teaspoon of  sea salt
Black crushed pepper to taste.

Garnish with:

Radishes, Avocado Slices, Pumpkin seeds, Ketchup,( weird but delicious, it adds some sweet and tangy note)
Cholula hot Sauce, Limes. Serve with Tostadas or crackers.

Directions:

In a medium size pot steam the small diced Cauliflower florets until al-dente, for about 3-5 minutes. Remove from steamer place them on a tray in one single layer and let them cool off. Mean time chop all the vegetables. Place them on a big salad bowl, add the herbs, extra virgin olive oil, the citrus juices and S&P, toss well.  Once the cauliflower florets have cool down, add them to the mix, toss well and let it marinate for 20-45 minutes. Taste and adjust salt and pepper if necessary. Serve with tostadas or crackers, avocado Slices, radish slices, and toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds), and a dash of your favorite hot sauce…

Cauliflower Ceviche_One bowl healthy meal

Cauliflower-Ceviche-Summer-Vegetarian-Vegan-Bliss_-Yes,-more,-please!

Refreshing, Vegetarian Ceviche, Enjoy!

Music Pairing: Mini Skirt, ESQUIVEL- Metropole Orkest

Cauliflower Ceviche

Serves 4-6
Course Brunch, Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine FUSION, Mexican, wholesome
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Author Mariana McEnroe

Ingredients

  • 1 Cauliflower head medium size. Remove the core and small diced florets.

Small diced:

  • 2 carrots
  • 1 to mato
  • ½ medium size red onion
  • 2 green onions including the green part.
  • 1 cucumber seedless
  • 1 long celery stalk
  • 1 habanero or 1 jalapeno, or 1 serrano. (Remove the seeds for a less spicy version.)
  • 2 Tablespoons of finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 Tablespoons of finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 2-3 pinches of dried oregano

The juice of:

  • 2 Limes
  • 1 Lemon
  • The juice and zest of ½ Orange
  • 2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1 teaspoon of sea salt
  • Black crushed pepper to taste.

Garnish with:

  • Radishes Avocado Slices, Pumpkin seeds, Ketchup,( weird but delicious, it adds some sweet and tangy note)
  • Cholula hot Sauce Limes. Serve with Tostadas or crackers.

Instructions

Directions:

  1. In a medium size pot steam the small diced Cauliflower florets until al-dente, for about 3-5 minutes. Remove from steamer place them on a tray in one single layer and let them cool off. Mean time chop all the vegetables. Place them on a big salad bowl, add the herbs, extra virgin olive oil, the citrus juices and S&P, toss well. Once the cauliflower florets have cool down, add them to the mix, toss well and let it marinate for 20-45 minutes. Taste and adjust salt and pepper if necessary. Serve with tostadas or crackers, avocado Slices, radish slices, and toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds), and a dash of your favorite hot sauce…
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