The thing about summer in the south is it seems like there's no end to tomatoes, squash, and okra. And peppers. Go to the farmer's market and that's all you'll find; baskets of tomatoes and zucchini and anaheims...
What started as a summer blessing ends like any meal at a Chinese food buffet: in a desperate plea for something, anything else. There's only so much you can do with the same thing week after week. And while I know we'll miss these vegetables in a couple of months, the excitement is gone.
Rebecca's been looking through food blogs to find new things to do with all the summer staples. This is the absolute best, easiest thing that we've come across: VEGGIE TACOS. Cheap, healthy, vegetarian, and spectacular. And I'm including a bonus recipe for homemade tortillas!
Thanks to Simply Recipes for the original idea!
Serves two (can easily be doubled)
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Total time: 30 minutes
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup of chopped zucchini or summer squash (1-2 zucchini or squash, depending on the size)
- 1/2 medium onion, chopped
- 1 garlic clove, chopped
- 1 large fresh mild green chile (Anaheim or Hatch), seeds and stem discarded, chopped
- 1/2 fresh chile pepper (serrano, jalapeno, habanero), seeds and stem discarded, minced (or more, if you desire more heat)
- Pinch of ground cumin
- Pinch of ground oregano
- 1 small to medium tomato, chopped
- 4 corn tortillas OR 1 cup masa harina / masa flour (for homemade tortillas - Masa harina / masa flour can be found on the baking aisle of your grocery store if you're in the right town, or it may be in the ethnic section of your grocery store.)
- 1/2 cup shredded cheese - monterey jack is my favorite, but any kind will do.
- OPTIONAL: 1/4 cup crumbled Mexican cotija cheese (a salty, crumbly cheese, you can substitute feta)
- OPTIONAL: 1-2 tsp lime juice
- OPTIONAL: 1-2 tbs cilantro
Keep in mind that this recipe is as flexible as a boneless flamenco dancer. Feel free to throw in any vegetables in your garden. The only real MUSTS - in my book - are the tomatoes, which just taste fantastic, and the peppers. Feel free to throw in mushrooms, substitute peppers, take out the garlic, throw in some shallots. It'll all taste good on a tortilla.
Ready? Here we go!
1. If you plan to make your own tortillas - and I really suggest you do at some point in your life, because they're fantastic - add one cup masa harina (for approximately 4 shells) to a bowl. Mix in 1/8 tsp salt. Add in anywhere from 3/4 cup to 1 1/4 cup warm water; the recipe will be on the back of the bag. I've found that it's easiest to work with when it has the consistency of PLAY-DOH. I pour in about 3/4 cup of water, mix it in to see how dry it is, and then add more water as needed. Thing is, if it gets wet enough to be slimy, it'll stick to your rolling surface and will fall apart when you try to pry it off. If it's too dry, it'll crumble when you try to form the tortillas. The first batch or two you make will likely be trial and error. That may sound intimidating - but it's EASY to figure out. And the tortillas will be delicious.
SO! Now that I've terrified you - prepare the dough. Let it sit 5-10 minutes while you prep the veggies.
2. Slice and dice your vegetables.
3. Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium. Sear and saute the zucchini / squash, peppers, garlic, onion, cumin, and oregano for 5-10 minutes, until browned.
4. Add the tomatoes and set the heat to low. Add the lime juice, if using. Let cook while you prepare the tortillas.
5. Heat a second skillet - preferrably a griddle - to medium. Divide your tortilla dough into 4-6 equal pieces - I do 4 because I like em big, but you should be able to get 6 small tortillas out of 1 cup of flour. Roll each piece into a small ball.
6. If you're anyone who's anyone, you have a tortilla press. I don't. So here's what I do: I slice a gallon plastic bag across the side and bottom to make a plastic cover. I put each piece of tortilla dough in between the plastic bags and roll it out on the counter with a rolling pin. If anyone catches you doing this, you will be scolded.
7. Here's the hard part - prying the tortilla away from the side of the bag. I lay the shell on my hand and gently pry the plastic away from the tortilla. This part WILL take practice. You want to have a thin tortilla, but you don't want it to break. Once you get one side pried away, you can get it off the tortilla without tearing it too much. I think this is why people use real tortilla presses.
8. Gently (and CAREFULLY) lay the tortilla on the hot griddle / skillet. Let cook for one minute, flip, and cook the other side for one minute. Repeat for each tortilla.
9. Smell the tortillas. It will remind you why you went through all this trouble.
10. Fill each tortilla with the veggie mixture. Top with shredded cheese, and - optionally - cojita cheese or cilantro. Serve!
Robert's take: Man, I love these so much. They're easy to make (especially if you use store-bought tortillas) and taste fantastic (especially if you use homemade tortillas). They're cheap. They're healthy. MARRY ME, VEGGIE TACOS.
Rebecca's take: These are pretty tasty! It took me a while to adjust to a "taco" that didn't taste all meaty, but I quickly became a fan. (I never liked normal tacos very much anyway!) This really is an excellent way to use up a bunch of vegetables. And you should try making tortillas - they're soo good and fresh!