Hey, Hey…Happy Taco Tuesday!
There’s a brand new vegan cookbook hitting the shelves TODAY, & I am thrilled to be a part of the blog tour to promote the launch of “Vegan Tacos: Authentic & Inspired Recipes for Mexico’s Favorite Street Food.” I mean…a whole entire book dedicated to one of the world’s most beloved handheld foods? You betcha! “Vegan Tacos” was named one of VegNews Magazine’s “Most Anticipated Cookbooks of 2014,” & author Jason Wyrick was recently named one of One Green Planet’s “5 Up & Coming Vegan Chefs Whose Names You Should Know.” Needless to say, you’re definitely going to want this in your collection, as it’s AWESOME. Plus, tacos! Just sayin’.
Me & tacos, we go way back. I was practically raised on them. Long ago, my Grandpa started the fun family tradition of celebrating birthdays with a fancy taco fiesta. So multiple times a year we gather together to celebrate with margaritas, Mexican beer, lotsa chips & guacamole, spicy carrots & of course a DIY taco “bar” equipped with all the delightful fixin’s! However, what I learned from this book is that the tacos I’ve known & loved all of these years were nothing short of an “Americanized” version ~ a sad & far cry from the “authentic” taco that hails from streets of Mexico. I discovered that there is an entire world of tacos that exists beyond hard shell “taco dorado” version that was popularized by Taco Bell (seriously). You’d think that growing up in San Diego, a mere 20 minutes from the US/Mexico border, that I’d have a better understanding of this classic street food, but turns out I had a lot to learn. Oh boy, was I schooled!
So…the Taco! What is a taco exactly & why dedicate a whole book to it? Seems simple enough, but Chef Wyrick notes, “the answer is hard to pin down! But, a taco is at heart, a hand sized tortilla, usually corn & almost always soft, wrapped around another set of ingredients.” He asks us to think for a moment about the broadness of that statement & imagine the enormous amounts of variations one can create. He then goes on to say, “many of them are as far removed from Mexican food as one can get.” His book, aims to set the record straight when it comes to tacos, by sharing everything one needs to know about how to make endless adaptations of “authentic” Mexican tacos, with a plant-based twist ~ from inventive fillings & homemade tortillas, to sauces, salsas, & even vegan queso fresco!
“Vegan Tacos” is divvied up into 3 thorough parts, “Tacos Al Gusto” ~ full of taco history, essential gear & ingredients, & a tortilla tutorial; “Tacos Aqui” ~ featuring 10, that’s right, 10 chapters of mouthwatering TACOS; & “Toppings, Sides, & Drinks” ~ recipes for cheese, salsas, guacs, horchata, margaritas & more. Wow, this book really covers it all!
The recipes range from quite simple to very complex, & everywhere in between. As many of the recipes have several components to prepare, Chef Wyrick does his best to offer time saving shortcuts, quick options using store-bought ingredients & recommends keeping some of your favorite salsas & hot sauces on hand. One thing he is absolutely set on, however, is making your tortilla’s from scratch, as he says “it doesn’t matter how good the taco filling is, the tortilla will make or break the taco.” Therefore, he dedicates an entire chapter to tortillas & how to make them at home, offering recipes, tips, techniques & equipment recommendations. I have not yet taken the tortilla making challenge, as there are plenty of local sources here for fresh made tortillas, but seeing how simple tortilla making can be, I will definitely dedicate an afternoon to making my own. Tortilla tutorial party, anyone?
As for the taco recipes themselves…WOW! This book boasts truly extensive collection of recipes inspired by different regions of Mexico & is a true testament to the endless variations one can create with a bit of “al gusto” & imagination ~ tacos filled with charred veggies, stewed fillings, sauteed fillings, tacos fried golden & crisp, breakfast tacos, sweet tacos, tacos inspired by other cuisines & more! Some examples of the recipes you’ll find:
- Cactus Tacos
- Mushroom Chorizo Tacos with Black Beans & Chayote
- Mole Tacos with Seared Zucchini, Wilted Chard, & Pepitas
- Vampire Tacos
- Baja Style Tempeh Tacos
- Kimchi Tacos
- Cinnamon Tortilla Tacos with Spicy Cajeta Apples, Pecans, & Agave Crema
Dessert Tacos! What? As you can see, Chef Wyrick has quite a passion for tacos & there really is so limit to what you can dream up. This book is full of beautiful photography, detail, history, techniques & of course, delicious food! Speaking of food, how about a recipe?
Today, I am excited to share with you one of my favorite recipes from the book & my all time favorite simple taco ~ The Guacamole Taco! As I mentioned, I practically grew up on “Mexican” food, as my family began patronizing “Nati’s Mexican Restaurant,” an Ocean Beach institution, when it opened in 1960. I probably had my first vegetarian taco while snuggled in my Mom’s belly! It’s, of course, not the most vegan friendly place, but there are a few options that can make do, & my all time favorite since I was a child is their “Guacamole Taco – NO MEAT.” They know our order so well, we barely have to make the distinction anymore, & they never, ever scoff at our request to hold the meat, in fact they’ll ask before we even say it “No Meat?” That right, hold please! And a guacamole taco it is just how it sounds — a tortilla, or hard shell, filled with creamy guacamole & that’s about it. Hail to the almighty avocado!
While the guacamole taco is quintessentially simple, the sky is the limit on the various ways you could dress it up & delight your fancy – shredded lettuce, a bit of vegan cheese, & hot sauce or salsa, of course! I prefer it on the simpler side & Chef Wyrick has his own go-to version in the book, so when I saw it, I knew I had to share it here. Seems these tacos are as much of a favorite in his household as they are in mine. The best part about these tacos, they are the simplest to make, & in my busy life quick & easy is key! And, as he offers this helpful tidbit, “when travelling guacamole tacos are a safe bet to be vegan in a taqueria” (just make sure the tortilla is lard free).
- The Filling ~
- 1 cup guacamole
- The Tortillas ~
- 4 (5- to 6-inch) corn tortillas
- The Toppings ~
- Quick Carrots Escabeche (recipe follows)
- Pickled Red Onions (recipe follows)
- Hot sauce, to serve
- Make the carrots & set aside. Make the onions & set aside.
- Make the guacamole & set aside.
- Warm the tortillas, top with the guacamole, & then the carrots, onions, & hot sauce.
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 carrot, cut diagonally into ⅛-inch thick slices
- ¼ teaspoon Mexican oregano
- Pinch of salt
- Heat the oil in a small skillet over a medium heat. Add the carrot, oregano, and salt and sauté for about 1 minute. The slices should still be firm, but not crunchy.
- ¼ of a red onion, sliced into very thin strips
- Enough apple cider vinegar to cover the onion strips
- Pinch of salt
- Place the onion strips in a bowl & cover them with apple cider vinegar mixed with a pinch of salt. These will be ready after 1 hour, are best after a day, & will keep in your refrigerator, covered, for a month.
So, there you have it, friends! It’s time to take “Taco Tuesday” to a whole new level with “Vegan Tacos.” Be sure to head over to Amazon or your favorite local bookstore & pick up your copy today. Then get ready to fire up your grill, blend up some margaritas, get your hands on some masa harina, mash some avocados, & make some tantalizing tacos! And be sure to keep your eyes on the blog-o-sphere as a whole group of bloggers have joined the “Vegan Tacos” blog tour. Look out for more recipe shares, interviews, giveaways & more.