FIELD & FOREST

cilantro

roasted veggie tacos + a video!

autumn, dinner, lunch, main dishes, vegan, vegetarian, winterRachel SandersComment
vegan vegetable tacos with aji amarillo sauce

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
olive oil
1 bunch lacinato (dino) kale or Red Russian kale
kosher salt

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.


ORANGE SAUCE (makes 2 cups)

Note: this recipe is inspired by both a salsa from Tacolicious and one from the beloved Q'ero in Encinitas, CA.

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
kosher salt
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.

Serve immediately.

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

tomato and avocado salad with sweet corn and herb vinaigrette

dinner, lunch, salads, summer, vegetarianRachel Sanders2 Comments

I would wager a guess that 95% of you are really excited about this tomato and avocado salad, while 5% of you were immediately distracted by the denim tuxedo lurking behind that bowl of tomatoes. Lest ye judge me too harshly, note that it was laundry day. However, after wearing this outfit for a full afternoon, I can confidently say that this is a pretty rad shirt-pants combo. It is comfy, weather-appropriate for fall, and denim hides dirt well enough that you can't even tell that I was jumped by a chicken shortly before I took these photos.

But is this a fashion blog? Clearly not! Back to salad.

Richard and I went to the farmers' market this past weekend for the first time in two months, which is quite infrequent and very unlike us in general, but very like us when we are in camping mode. And the most gorgeous tomatoes are in season right now, all shapes, sizes, hues, varieties. Just color coming out of your ying yang. And we haven't been buying any for WEEKS, so we seriously need to make up for lost time.

This is a nifty little salad to keep in your back pocket for summer. You chop up some stuff, pile it on a plate, and drizzle a bit of vinaigrette over the whole thing. The point, I think, is to highlight all of those beautiful summer veggies when they are at their very best and most flavorful, so there's no drowning of anything in dressing. You could add other things if you like... grilled summer squash, lentils, fresh cheese, you name it. As is, this salad can double as a great topping (or relish, if chopped more finely) for grilled meat, or a nice brunch side for polenta or potatoes and eggs.

Ooo, just thinking about that is making me excited to go to bed already so I can wake up and make breakfast. BYE.

tomato and avocado salad with sweet corn and herb vinaigrette
serves 2 as a light main, or up to 4 as a side salad

1 small fresh shallot
1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar, white wine vinegar, or lemon juice
kosher salt
black pepper
2 pounds assorted heirloom and cherry tomatoes
1 ear sweet corn
1 just-ripe (not mushy) avocado
1 teaspoon dijon or whole grain mustard (optional - omit if using cilantro (see next ingredient))
1 tablespoon mixed chopped herbs, such as parsley, basil, cilantro, or chives
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
flaky salt, such as Maldon, to finish (optional, but delicious)

Thinly slice the shallot and place it in a small bowl with the white balsamic vinegar, a pinch of kosher salt, and a grind or two of black pepper. Set aside.

Slice the heirloom tomatoes into thick slices or wedges. Slice the cherry tomatoes in half. Cut the avocado in half, remove the pit, quarter each half, and cut each quarter into 4 wedges or slices (wedges are easiest to cut if you remove the avocado skin first). Husk the sweet corn and slice the kernels away from the cob.

Alternate piling tomatoes and avocado slices on a serving plate, and scatter with the sweet corn. Pick the shallot slices out of the vinegar (reserving the vinegar), and scatter the shallot over the tomatoes, avocado, and corn.

Add the mustard (if using) and finely chopped herbs to the vinegar mixture and whisk to combine. Whisk in the olive oil until the vinaigrette emulsifies and thickens slightly. Taste the vinaigrette, adjust seasoning if needed, and spoon about half of it over the salad. Finish with a light sprinkle of flaky salt, and serve with the remaining vinaigrette and more flaky salt on the side.

gringo chicken tacos

autumn, dinner, lunch, main dishes, spring, summerFieldandForestComment

The official first day of summer happened last weekend! It is now excusable for the sun to melt you into the sidewalk. As is tradition around this time of year, our air conditioner broke. We sort of weren't using it that much anyway to try and keep our energy bill on the lower end of ridiculous (old houses = lots of character, lots of character = no insulation, no insulation = lots of energy needed to keep the indoors from becoming devil's armpit hot), but as it turns out, not using air conditioning means that our house turns into a high-desert microclimate with temps averaging about 86˚F.

So now we are looking for every excuse to cook and eat our food outside, which led to the creation of these [likely inauthentic, but still super tasty] chicken tacos. Granted you can (and I did) cook the chicken breasts in a skillet, but they'd be just as good and probably more authentic if they were cooked outdoors on a grill. You can easily double/quadruple/quintuple this recipe to feed as many hungry people as you'd like, and as the only thing that really needs cooking is the chicken, you can prep all the accoutrements right before you grill and have quite possibly the easiest and least fussy dinner party ever.

So, yeah. These are really good tacos, made by a white lady in a cast-iron skillet in Utah. I doubt it gets much more gringo than that.

Tacos de Pollo Gringo (Gringo Chicken Tacos)
makes enough for 2-3 people, or 8-10 small (street) tacos

For the chicken:
2 chicken breasts
1 tablespoon chili powder (I used this awesome stuff from Rancho Gordo)
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Juice of 1 lime
1 tablespoon olive oil

Place the chicken in a container with a lid or a shallow bowl. In a small bowl, combine the remaining ingredients and pour over the chicken. Use your hands to spread the marinade over the chicken so that each breast is evenly coated. Cover and place in the fridge for at least 2 hours or up to overnight.

To build/accessorize your tacos:
1 ripe (but not mushy) avocado, sliced
1/2 a white onion, finely chopped
a handful of fresh cilantro (coriander), finely chopped
1 lime, cut into wedges
small corn tortillas, about 4-5 inches in diameter (if you're in Utah, Rico makes nice, pliable corn tortillas in Salt Lake City, and sells them in most grocery stores)

About 30-45 minutes before you want to eat your tacos: Take the chicken out of the fridge and set aside (leaving it at room temperature for a bit helps it to cook more evenly and stay tender). If using a grill, now is a good time to begin heating your coals.

About 15 minutes before you want to eat your tacos: prep the avocado, onion, cilantro, and lime (we combined the onion and cilantro in the same bowl like a dry relish, but you can serve them separately depending on what you prefer). Set aside.

Place a grill over hot coals, or place a cast-iron skillet over medium high heat. Oil the grill with an olive oil-soaked paper towel, or drizzle a little oil around the inside of your cast iron skillet (just enough to lightly coat). Cook the chicken just until it is cooked through (no longer pink inside), but still tender, about 5-6 minutes on each side.

While the chicken is cooking, remove your tortillas from their bag/container and place them in a microwave-proof bowl. Put a plate on top of the bowl (covering the tortillas) to make a makeshift steamer. Microwave your bowl/plate contraption for 1-2 minutes to heat your tortillas and make them pliable (you may have to experiment with your tortillas to make sure you are heating them enough/not too much, since various brands can act differently when heated).

Once the chicken is cooked, remove the pan from the heat and place the chicken breasts on a cutting board. Let rest for a minute. Slice each breast across the grain into 1/4-inch thick slices and place in a serving bowl. Pour any juices that end up on your cutting board over the chicken. Serve immediately with the hot tortillas, onion, cilantro, avocado, and lime.