So remember a little (er, long) while ago when I said you'd be getting a taco recipe soon? Well, rejoice! Soon is now.
This is one of my favorite recipes. And, it's vegan! You'd never know! I actually forgot it was vegan the last time we made it until halfway through my second taco.
That's actually the kind of vegan cooking I prefer. We're not vegan, but we really don't eat meat more than once or twice a week, if that. We save the meat for dishes that really need it, like sausage bolognese and meat lasagna and roasted chicken (not quite sure how one would make this without the chicken), and focus on the vegetables the rest of the time. I will probably always eat this way, mainly because I have never met a vegan lasagna that can hold a candle to normal lasagna (mainly because I have never met a vegan cheese that can hold a candle to cheese).
My friend Andrew and I made this video back in January (note my pre-spring skiing alabaster complexion), and then I promptly sat on it for a number of months while moving/working/traveling/being a bum. So now that squash is back in season, it's high time I made good on my taco promises and gave you this recipe already, especially since it's ideal camping season in most parts of Utah. Even though I roast the veggies in the oven and cook the kale on the stovetop, the ingredients for these tacos are robust enough that you can make them ahead of time, pack them in your cooler, and reheat them in the backcountry with no discernable changes in quality or texture. They've been a featured item on more than one trip, and since getting fresh veggies in our tummies while camping is sometimes an issue for us, I'm always super happy when these are part of the rotation.
(Some of you are going to balk at the homemade tortillas thing, since that is admittedly a more time-consuming element of these tacos. I mean, I like these tortillas a lot, but you don't have to make them if you don't want to. I'll still be your friend. And even I don't bother with making the tortillas when we take this camping, mainly because we'll eat more than I can practically make. But seriously, do make the orange sauce, because it is like liquid crack and you can use it on your eggs/chips/burgers/veggies/significant other, so you'll definitely use up the full batch.)
Huge thanks and the biggest of bear hugs to Andrew for shooting this video with me and for helping me to eat all of the tacos afterward! Do yourselves a favor and check out his other work at andrewjamesfilm.com.
a few good squash (I used 1 large butternut and two delicata, but feel free to use whatever densely-fleshed squash is your favorite)
1 pound carrots
1 bunch lacinato (dino) kale or Red Russian kale
TACO ACCESSORIES - tortillas, orange sauce, chopped cilantro + white onion, sliced avocado, toasted pepitas
Peel the squash (delicata squash can be unpeeled), remove any seeds, and cut into 1/2-inch cubes. Peel the carrots and cut into 1/2-inch thick rounds or half-moons. Place the veggies in a single layer on two baking sheets, drizzle with olive oil, and toss lightly with your hands to evenly coat. Place both baking sheets on separate racks in your oven, and turn the oven temperature to 400˚F. Roast for 20-30 minutes, rotating the sheet pans once, until the edges of the veggies are becoming crispy and the insides are custardy.
While the veggies are roasting, stem, chop, and rinse your kale (do not dry it). Heat a cast-iron pan over a medium flame. Drizzle a tablespoon of olive oil into the pan and let heat for a few seconds before adding the kale. Sauté the kale until it begins to wilt (the water from rinsing will help the kale to steam and break down). Add a pinch of kosher salt, and continue to cook for another 5-10 minutes, until the kale is soft and easy to bite through.
Remove the vegetables from the oven, sprinkle with kosher salt, and add to the pan with the kale. Set aside while you heat the tortillas, and gently reheat if necessary before serving.
Turn your broiler to high. Lay the onion slices in a single layer on a baking sheet, and place under the broiler until they begin to blacken on one side, about 5-10 minutes.
While the onions broil, heat a heavy bottomed skillet over a medium flame and add a couple of teaspoons of canola oil. Add the chiles de arbol and the garlic cloves to the pan, and cook until the chiles are beginning to turn dark, the garlic is beginning to turn golden, and the whole thing smells smokey and delicious (this only takes a few minutes if that, so keep your eye on the pan).
Remove the chiles and garlic from the heat, and pour into the cup of an immersion blender or the carafe of a stand blender. Add the broiled onion slices, and pour about 1/4-1/3 of a cup of boiling hot water over the vegetables and let sit for 5 minutes (this will help them soften for blending).
Add the aji amarillo purée or tomatoes, the vinegar, and a large pinch of salt to the carafe and blend until puréed (it's okay if there is still a little bit of texture). Add the agave nectar and oil, and blend again until thoroughly mixed. Taste the sauce and add more vinegar/salt/agave/oil as necessary to get your desired balance of flavors.
The sauce will keep, refrigerated, for up to two weeks.
1 red onion, peeled, halved, and cut into 1/2-inch thick slices
canola oil or other neutral oil
1/2 cup dried chiles de arbol
6 large cloves garlic
boiling hot water
1/3 cup aji amarillo purée or two medium tomatoes
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon agave nectar (syrup) or 1 tablespoon sugar
1/3 cup canola oil
BLUE CORN TORTILLA (makes 8-12)
adapted from King Arthur Flour
Combine the flour and cornmeal in a medium bowl, and add the oil, mixing to combine. Dissolve the salt in the water and add to the bowl, mixing to combine with your hands or a wooden spoon.
Turn the mixture out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead briefly until the dough is smooth and no longer sticky, adding a little more flour to the board if necessary. Divide the dough into 8-12 equal pieces (depending on how large you would like your tortillas) and roll each piece into a ball. Set on a plate or baking sheet, cover with a damp dishtowel, and leave to rest for 30 minutes.
Working with one piece of dough at a time, leaving the rest covered, press the dough ball using a tortilla press (if you don't have a press, which I don't, place the dough ball on a large piece of plastic wrap, fold the wrap loosely over the ball, and press using the bottom of a dish or a pan). Place pressed tortillas on a plate and cover with a damp dishtowel while you work with the rest of the dough.
Once the tortillas have all been pressed, heat an ungreased skillet or griddle over medium heat and line a dish with a dishtowel or large piece of foil. Cook the tortillas for 1-2 minutes on each side, until the color is light with some golden spots. Remove cooked tortillas to the lined dish, and keep covered with the towel or wrapped in foil while the others cook.
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup blue cornmeal
4 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup + one tablespoon water