Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Black bean, yellow squash & pumpkin seed tacos

Yum! I was starving last night and we had some meat (delicious local ground beef from Pat and Ellie's shop Local) in the freezer, but I couldn't wait. Plus I had a shredded yellow (crookneck) squash in the fridge that I wanted to use up. As a result: Black bean, squash and pumpkin seed tacos. Not only are they vegan, but they're so tasty. Even tastier than the meat ones. But then again I always lean more towards vegetarianism since I tend to think that meat is fundamentally icky. You should have seen me squirm when I was preparing that chicken last week! I almost couldn't do it. Only Eric's laughter made me determined to overcome my squeamishness and roast the damn chicken. I was a vegetarian for years, actually, and just started eating meat last year when I got pregnant. I started craving pork so badly, I had to eat it. 
Anyway, these are easy. The big secret is the taco seasoning. Don't use the stuff in the little packet from the store! Or, use it but know that - it has MSG and the spices are probably all old and not tasty. Eric makes his own taco seasoning. It's really simple and so much tastier than the store packets. 
Taco Seasoning: 
Roast the dried peppers of your choice at 350F until the whole room smells delicious and the peppers are crispy - you can snap them easily and they don't bend. We use anchos (dried poblanos) and pasillas.
Pulverize the dried, roasted peppers in a spice grinder (or a small coffee grinder that you don't mind pepper-ing up). We get them from the Hispanic grocery store.
Add to the mix: cumin, cinnamon, allspice, thyme, oregano.
Eric adds a little salt to, but I prefer to add the salt later - that way you can adjust it for each dish. Add the spices to taste. I'd suggest more cumin and not too much cinnamon but definitely some. Eric makes a bunch (about a pint) at a time. That much taco seasoning takes about 4 of each kind of pepper. This isn't spicy taco seasoning. We just add the spice in later. But you can put some spicy dried peppers right into the mix if you like it that way.

Toast a few tablespoons of the taco seasoning in the dry skillet. Then add a splash of oil (we use peanut), a rinsed can of beans, the shredded squash (one large squash, shredded in the food processor), a diced fresh hot pepper (we used a jalapeƱo), and a handful of roasted pumpkin seeds (pepitas). Adjust the taco seasoning - taste it and add more if you want more. Sprinkle in some white truffle salt if you have some (this is another secret ingredient - it makes everything more delicious!). If not, use regular salt. At the end, add finely chopped garlic. You don't want to burn the garlic because then it will taste bitter, so that's why we add it at the end.
And then you're done! Toast up some corn tortillas, fill one up and top it with some chopped onion and cilantro. I was too hungry to chop cilantro and we already had some chopped onion in the fridge left over from breakfast.

I know it's weird that I write this stuff down without real measurements. But that's the way I cook - measuring by eye and then tasting to adjust. Use your senses and make it the way that tastes best for you! Baking is another story, but I like to live dangerously and sometimes bake by eye too.

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