|Bahn Mi Salad from Veggie Grill — as a taco.|
Making a pierogi quesadilla, recently, was the perfect introduction to the thought that using tortillas in nontraditional ways is a superb idea — Pad Thai taco, anyone? Since attending a talk by two of the authors of The Taco Cleanse,* I now understand you can put anything you want into a tortilla and call it a taco. Truthfully, there are so many wonderful-sounding recipes in The Taco Cleanse there's really no need to throw chow mein into a taco, but what if you don't want to cook. What if you don't have time? What if you pick up a bahn mi salad from Veggie Grill but are on a serious taco cleanse? No need to break the cleanse. A bahn mi salad makes a perfect taco, although I recommend warming the salad a bit first. I like it best with the kale just a bit wilted.
As I said, I've expanded my understanding of taco fillings. Our Saturday night tacos from the distant past were always the same — beans, shredded lettuce, cheese, salsa on a crunchy, store-bought taco shell. Now we are much more creative. The one above has curried tofu, cucumber and sauerkraut. Is that too weird?
And here we have a leftover-stir-fry taco. So many possibilities, don't you think?
Our happy, new, random taco life was smoothly coasting along when two events occurred — my son and his girlfriend mailed me a package of their favorite masa harina from San Francisco, and shortly after that, the tortilla press I ordered from Amazon.com arrived. (Unbeknownst to me, Jordan and Alison had been enjoying fresh tortillas for some time, thanks to Alison's cooking skills. They even had a tortilla press!) The ultra fine-textured masa harina they love (and with which they were thoughtful enough to surprise me) is made from blue corn, and the tortillas I made using it were unbelievable. They were softer and chewier than the yellow corn tortillas, and had a wonderful flavor. The brand is Tortillas de la Tierra, and I think they buy it at the farmers market. (If you live in the Bay Area and want to purchase some, leave a question in the comments and I'll get more specific information.)
And do I like the tortilla press you're wondering? Yes. I can't believe how easy it is to press the tortillas into perfect circles — I want to make tortillas just so I can use it. No regrets on adding it to my kitchen collection. However, although I purchased the 8-inch press, if I were to do it again, I'd get the 6-inch.
Inspired by the press and the lovely masa harina, my husband made deeply roasted chipotle butternut squash from The Taco Cleanse cookbook to fill our gorgeous blue corn tortillas, Except for cutting up the squash, it was really easy to make, and tasted great — very spicy in the bowl, but just perfect once it got into the tortillas.
We garnished our tacos with salsa and baked almond feta — another post for another day.
Do your tacos tend towards the traditional or the unusual?
*We were having so much fun with The Taco Cleanse, I just couldn't keep it to myself — I've bought four copies so far for family members and for us. The book is actually sold out on Amazon, and they are waiting for a new supply. I found all of my copies in local bookstores, but if you are heading out to buy one, you might want to call ahead to see if it's in stock.