Another peanut butterless dish, I know. I hope I’m not dissuading any fellow enthusiasts to deviate from the holy path of peanut butter. As strange as it sounds I do not eat peanut butter with every meal. Luckily I eat 4-5 meals a day so peanut butter can sneak its way into 2-3 of them. But I get other cravings too, mostly for Mexican food.
Before I moved out to California I had a very different impression of Mexican food, specifically tacos, a family favorite when I was growing up. We often had tacos for dinner, but we were eating what I later learned was the “Americanized taco”, U-shaped crispy corn shells filled with ground beef (seasoned with a packet of taco seasoning) and topped with cheese, salsa, black olives, tomatoes, cheese and sometimes sour cream: essentially a homemade “supreme” taco from Taco Bell. They were/are delicious. But a couple years ago my girlfriend tried to convince me that my idea of tacos was completely wrong. She told me that “traditional” tacos were only meat, onions and cilantro. Preposterous.
At the time, she told me to buy corn tortillas instead of the crispy or flour ones. I loved eating flour tortillas for snack so I tried a bite of a raw corn tortilla. I immediately spit it out and threw the package in the garbage. Either I didn’t like “traditional” Mexican food or these Mexican people were crazy. Turns out I was crazy and now I’m in love with “traditional” Mexican cuisine, although I still enjoy the “Americanized” variety. The corn tortilla problem worked itself out once I realized that you needed to cook or toast them in some fashion. In fact, since I perfected the recipe for homemade tortilla chips, every one of the 30+ people who has tried them became addicted. Clearly my ways have changed.
The key to these tacos is the shell. You’ll have to find the exact cooking time for your oven but for me it’s 7-8 minutes. The perfectly cooked tortilla will be slightly crispy but also chewy and still bendable enough to not crack: it’s addicting. Use your favorite meat or tofu in this recipe and you will have a gluten-free and vegan masterpiece!
In addition, I want to send out a huge thank you to Katie from Naturally Nutty who, after hearing about the twice-leaked butter toffee peanut butter (the replacement shipment leaked too), personally mailed me an intact Butter Toffee jar along with a Naturally Nutty canvas bag! If you haven’t already, check out Naturally Nutty’s line of flavored peanut and almond butters, they are some of the best I’ve ever tasted and have added nutrition bonuses. I recommend buying a case (free shipping on 12+ jars) and giving some away as Christmas/Hanukkah gifts.
8 (4″) corn tortillas
1/2 lb meat (chicken/turkey breast, ground beef, pork tenderloin, tofu, etc…)
1 cup beans (whole, refried or peanut butter refried)
1/4 cup fresh cilantro
cumin, chili powder and paprika
kosher salt, or other coarse salt
1/2 cup nonfat shredded cheese (cheddar, Mexican, cotija)
1/2 cup spicy salsa
1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup canned black olives, sliced
1/2 cup peaches or mango, chopped
lettuce or cabbage, shredded
nonfat sour cream
green onions (scallions), chopped
1. Preheat oven to 400 degree. Line 2 baking sheets with tinfoil and place 4 corn tortillas on each. Spray the tortillas with cooking spray, sprinkle with salt and place in the oven for 4 minutes. Remove trays, flip the tortillas, and place the cheese down the middle, if using. Place back in the oven for 3-4 minutes.
2. Heat a skillet on medium-high heat. Chop the meat into bite-sized pieces or chunks. Spray the skillet with cooking spray and add the meat. Add the cumin, chili powder and paprika in a ratio of about 2:2:1 to taste, but the more the merrier. Add salt and cayenne or chipotle pepper powder to taste. Cook the meat, stirring occasionally for about 3-4 minutes until browned and cooked through.
3. Remove the tortillas from the oven and top with meat, beans and cilantro. Add additional toppings (my favorites are cheese, salsa, sour cream, black olives and peaches).
4. If you’ve never had this type of taco before you might want to take a seat first, prepare to be blown away.
This is a great meal that you can almost always have on hand. I always keep dried or canned beans on hand, corn tortillas in the freezer (they last for a while and defrost quickly) and usually have salsa, sour cream and shredded cheese around. You can also omit the meat for a bean taco, you might not even notice the difference.