Tacos have always been a family favorite. I recall my mom making them when my brother and I were young. Tacos were far more humble in the 1970’s: ground meat, onions, bell peppers, taco seasonings, lettuce, tomatoes, and cheddar cheese for toppings. And yet, they were exotic in a simple way.
In the time when no one had access to the instant gratification now known as the internet, Mexico and its food were a stark contract to gumbo and ham sandwiches. And while spicy food is a given in Southwest Louisiana, the combination of spicy and fresh wasn’t very common then.
Of course we were allowed to assemble our own and we skimped very much on the lettuce and tomatoes. Mom usually put chopped olives out and those were heaped on quite readily when on asked, didn’t we think there should be something green on that taco?
I’ve made tacos for my own family for as long as I can remember and before becoming vegetarian, they were pretty much the same as my mom made then with the exception of soft taco shells, which we sometimes used.
As a vegetarian I once again view tacos as exotic. Where before meat was the star, as a vegetarian I am far more adventurous with my choice of fillings. My family’s favorite is lentil tacos as they mimic the taste and texture of meat in tacos quite well. I’m always looking for something new and tasty to try. I’ve given sweet potatoes as well as Yukon gold a try, both good, I prefer these in the cooler months, it feels like comfort food. Mushrooms are great as well as spicy roasted carrots.
The easiest ones to get your meat eaters to eat are below. Black beans are a great source of protein and taste great, even children usually won’t give you the gross face with a complimentary, YUK when presented with black beans. Preparation is easy making these a real hit for a weeknight meal that’s inexpensive. If you prefer pinto beans or kidney beans they could easily be substituted for the black beans.
- One can vegetarian black beans, rinsed and drained
- One medium onion, chopped
- One medium red bell pepper, seeded, de-ribbed, and chopped
- One tablespoon cumin
- One tablespoon garlic, minced
- Two teaspoons chili powder
- One teaspoon marjoram
- Salt and pepper to taste
- One quarter cup water
- Two tablespoons olive oil
- Taco shells or burritos
- Lettuce, washed and torn
- Tomato, chopped
- Black olives, chopped
- Jalapeños, chopped
- Sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
- Avocado slices or guacamole
In a large skillet place the olive oil and the onions and bell pepper. Cook over medium high heat until the onions are translucent, about 8 minutes. Add the beans, seasonings, and water. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer for 15 minutes.
Remove from heat and using a fork or the back side of a large spoon smash about one third of the beans, giving the mixture a nice thick consistency without being mushy. Stir in the cumin, chili powder, marjoram, salt and pepper to taste and the water. Return to heat and cook for about fiften minutes over medium or until warmed through and flavors have mingled. As a note, I love spicy foods and understand that most people don’t (and children have more taste buds than adults so shouldn’t be given spicy food it may not seem hot to you but you have fewer taste receptors) somI usually keep the spices in theses recipes minimal, is you like more pizzazz add more spices to your dish!
I love letting everyone make their own taco at the table. It lets everyonr be creative and adds an interactive feature to the meal.