Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Roasted Veggie Tacos with a Kale-Jicama Slaw

These might be some of the best tacos I've ever made... and I've made a few. The fact that they began as a full tilt quest for crispy taquitos... aka "a compromise"... and resulted in a little mea culpa (admitting that my way is not always the best way) is secondary.

First: the taquitos. They were delicious and very much enjoyed. However, the intent in making them the way they were made was very much a ploy on my part to have a crunchy, deep-fried taquito. Nothing really gets fried in my kitchen. So, I figured if I sold the filling… a heart-healthy mix of roasted sweet potato, broccoli and red onion tossed with protein-rich black beans… then I could roll it all in a corn tortilla and plunge it into hot oil with nary a sideways glance (aka "guilt"). And so I did. And… they were good.

I even made a leafy green kale and jicama slaw to side up to these crunchy rolls… another effort toward the healthy side of things… and it proved to be a perfect, fresh side. 

As I was contemplating a repeat of these tasty taquitos, using the leftover filling and a tweak of technique in the frying (as the filling was want to escape), I got to thinking of my husband’s favorite tacos, our efforts to try to eat as healthy and clean as possible, and a desire to not really want to partake in another fry.

Growing up firmly ensconced in the belief that most anything and everything tastes great in a tortilla, tacos from our kitchen are made with just about any leftovers we have. And the tortilla is never fried… or even baked. It’s just tinged over a hot flame (thanks to a gas stove). This no frying thing is really my husband’s preference and I’ve happily played along… until those taquitos. But I have to say that the taquitos reincarnation as tacos, with beautiful, flame-singed white corn tortillas and THAT slaw piled high over top could very well be my favorite taco to date. Mea culpa, this is what I should have made in the first place!

The filling of sweet potato, broccoli and red onion gets a little drizzle of olive oil and a good sprinkle of salt and pepper before heading to a 400 degree F. oven for an approximate 20-minute roast. Then it gets tossed with a can of black beans that have been rinsed and drained (pop rinsed beans onto a few paper towels to ensure they are good and dry before mixing with the roasted veggies). Add a little more salt and pepper to ensure a good flavor balance (your beans will need it) and your filling is done.

Then mix up your slaw: a few leaves of green kale, thinly sliced; a generous pop of crunchy jicama, also thinly sliced; and, a nice chop of fresh cilantro. The dressing is fresh orange juice, fresh lime juice, honey, red wine vinegar, and a little fruity olive oil. It just might be my favorite taco topping yet.

While I try to refrain from calling anything “the best,” these little heart healthy tacos certainly come close. So, so good and not a lick of frying (or dairy!) involved. Just humbly (and heart-healthy) good.

Roasted Veggies Tacos with Kale-Jicama Slaw
Makes approximately 8 tacos

Tacos really don’t call for a recipe, per se, so this is more of a description of what you’ll need and some approximations to get you 8 tacos. With the slaw, I would suggest using about 4 to 6 cups of thinly sliced kale (depending on how much you’d like to serve with each taco) and then portion the kale to jicama ratio at about 2:1 or 3:1; the cilantro as 4:1… to get a nicely balanced mix of flavor.

8 white corn tortillas
2 to 3 cups peeled and diced sweet potato/yam (I used a Jewel yam)
2 to 3 cups fresh broccoli florets, diced
1 cup diced red onion
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt
1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and well-drained
4 cups loosely packed, thinly sliced green kale (center ribs and stems removed, then cut into ribbons)
1 to 2 cups peeled and thinly sliced fresh jicama (cut into thin matchsticks to resemble cut of kale)
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
sliced avocado, if preferred 
fresh lime wedges, for serving

dressing (makes about ½ cup)
¼  cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
pinch kosher salt
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (a fruity variety)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place diced veggies (sweet potato, broccoli and red onion) on a baking sheet. Drizzle with about 1 tablespoon of olive oil and a generous sprinkle of kosher salt and pepper. Toss to combine and spread out in one layer. Roast for approximately 20 minutes, until golden. Place roasted veggies in a bowl and add black beans; season with salt and pepper, toss to mix through. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary. Set aside.

In a bowl, combine dressing ingredients (orange juice through salt) and whisk until honey is fully incorporated. Add olive oil and whisk until mixed through. Set aside.

Combine kale, jicama and cilantro in a bowl. Add a drizzle of dressing and toss to combine. Taste and adjust dressing as preferred. (Lightly dressing greens is best.)

Heat tortillas over flame of gas stove (in microwave or in oven if you don’t have a gas stove). Fill tortillas with veggie-bean mix and top with kale-jicama slaw and a little fresh avocado (if preferred). Serve immediately along with a few wedges of fresh lime and your favorite salsa.

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