Sunday, September 1, 2013

Spiced Veggie Tacos with Avocado Tomatillo Salsa

Ever since childhood, I've been afraid of salsa verde. You see, any time we went to Taco Bell when I was a kid, my mom always requested green sauce on her burritos. Now, I never tasted her burritos or her green sauce, but since she likes spicy foods, the obvious assumption was that green sauce is spicier than red. (To this day, I don't actually know if that's true for Taco Bell sauces.)

Also, my favorite burrito place here in town has a habanero sauce which is green, so I feel like that supports my previous conclusion that green sauce = super spicy.

Come to find out, green salsa doesn't have to be spicy! When making this Kale, Black Bean, and Avocado Burrito Bowl with Avocado Salsa Verde recipe, I found some tomatillo salsa which was the only green salsa in the salsa aisle that didn't have jalapenos or other unidentified chilies that could potentially be spicy. I took a chance and am so glad I did, because this salsa is tangy and flavorful but not at all hot--and it's killer when you add in some avocado, cilantro, and lime!

Side note: the Kale, Black Bean, and Avocado Burrito Bowl recipe was amazing. I've made it twice now (rare for me) with quinoa instead of brown rice, but just haven't managed to photograph it either time. Leftovers are also good warmed in a skillet with a couple fried eggs on the side.

Complete with kitty cat ears in the background
So when I decided to make veggie tacos adapted from Naturally Ella, it was an easy choice to add some avocado salsa verde to the mix!

For these tacos I tried out some raw tortillas that I found at Walmart next to the Mexican cheeses. While they don't hold a candle to fresh HEB tortillas (what does?), they definitely tasted better than your basic tortillas from the bread and coffee aisle--and it's kinda fun to cook them at home on the skillet, watching them puff up into pillows!

Spiced Veggie Tacos with Avocado Tomatillo Salsa
Adapted from Naturally Ella and Cookie & Kate
Yield: 3-4 servings

For the Veggies
1 zucchini
1 yellow squash
1/2 small to medium onion
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 tsp. smoked paprika
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. chipotle powder (or 1/4 tsp. chipotle and 1/4 tsp. ancho)
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. cumin powder
1 Tbsp. brown sugar

For the Salsa
1 avocado, cut into chunks
1/2 cup prepared tomatillo salsa
1/2 chopped cilantro leaves
Juice of 1 lime

For the Tacos
Tortillas (flour or corn)
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed, and seasoned with spices above
Additional toppings such as cheese, tomatoes, lettuce, sour cream, rice, etc. (optional)

Drain and rinse the black beans, and put into a microwave-safe bowl. Prep any cheese or veggies that will be taco toppings, and set aside.

Preheat oven to 375. Line a baking sheet with foil.

Wash zucchini and squash, and cut into strips about 2 inches long by 1/2 inch thick. Slice onion. In a medium bowl, toss vegetables with the olive oil and all the spices. As you measure each spice into the vegetables, also sprinkle some into the black beans. Spread vegetable mixture onto prepared pan, and bake 15-20 minutes, until vegetables are soft and browned, stirring halfway through.

While the veggies roast, prepare the salsa. In a mini food processor, combine avocado, tomatillo salsa, cilantro, and lime juice. Process until well combined but still a little chunky. If needed, add water or more lime juice to make it runnier. (Alternatively, put ingredients into a 1-pint mason jar and use an immersion blender.)

Warm tortillas using the stove or microwave. Warm black beans in the microwave. When all components are done, assemble tacos and serve.

  • These tacos were crazy good! I didn't do any of the "additional toppings" I listed above--partly because I didn't have most of them on hand, and partly because I didn't think the tacos needed them. The spiced veggies are definitely the star of this dish, with the black beans grounding the meal and the salsa adding the perfect finishing touch of tanginess and creaminess. 
  • Even with substituting ground ancho chili powder for half of the chipotle, these veggies were definitely kickin'. So if you're a spice wuss like me, you might use even less chipotle. If you're not a spice wuss, add a jalapeno to the salsa, or roast a jalapeno or two with the other veggies.
  • You could easily add meat to the tacos, and I think sweet potato would be a nice addition to the vegetable mixture.

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