Friday, October 4, 2019

Cauliflower Tacos

Happy National Taco Day! I honestly don't need a holiday to celebrate my love for tacos. Any day is fair game for taco love in any form. Although I love unctuous meat-filled tacos, I have found that vegetarian tacos can be surprisingly satisfying with the right combination of ingredients.

The cauliflower tacos from Guerrilla Tacos in Los Angeles are the perfect example of a well-balanced vegetable-forward taco, and if you were to swap out the butter for oil they would be 100% vegan as well. The myriad of flavors and textures are what really make these tacos shine.

Curry-laced cauliflower, sweet and chewy dates, crunchy pine nuts, briny olives, and finally spicy and acidic salsa are piled atop corn tortillas to yield a colorful taco creation boasting a Middle Eastern flavor profile.

The sweet and savory combo is exquisite, and the meat is certainly not missed here. Whether you whip up these tempting cauliflower beauties or try another taco recipe, I hope you'll celebrate National Taco Day with your sleeves rolled up and salsa dripping onto your plate!

Cauliflower Tacos
Serves 4 to 6 (3 or 2 tacos each)
(From Guerrilla Tacos)

Roasted Tomato Salsa:
4 Roma tomatoes
1/2 red onion
1 jalapeno chile, stemmed
1 serrano chile, stemmed (I omitted this, and thought the salsa was spicy enough with the jalapeno alone)
6 garlic cloves, peeled
1/4 cup white vinegar
Kosher salt

Cauliflower Tacos:
Kosher salt
1 head of cauliflower or Romanesco, stems and leaves removed, cut into bite-size florets
1/4 cup pine nuts
2 tablespoons unsalted butter (I reduced this to 1 tablespoon)
2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed with the side of a knife
1 teaspoon curry powder
4 thyme sprigs
1 cup Medjool dates, seeded and sliced into edible pieces
Freshly ground black pepper
12 corn tortillas, warmed
1 cup Castelvetrano olives, pitted and quartered (I used Manzanilla olives)
5 leaves fresh fenugreek or parsley, roughly torn from stem (I used chopped fresh cilantro)

To make the salsa: Prepare a medium fire in a charcoal grill or heat a gas grill to medium (I roasted my veggies in the oven instead, but would grill them or char them in a foil-lined cast-iron pan next time to get a better char).

Put the whole tomatoes on the grill grate and roast until they're black on one side. Then, using tongs, turn the tomatoes to roast evenly. After about 5 minutes, add the onion and chiles. The tomatoes should turn very black, like black-black, almost to the point where they're getting gray, about 35 minutes. The chiles and onion should be somewhat charred.

In a food processor, combine the tomatoes, chiles, onion, garlic, and vinegar. Pulse; keeping it chunky and leave the seeds there. Season with salt. Set aside.

For the cauliflower taco filling: Fill a large stockpot with about 4 quarts water. Add salt until it's as salty as the sea. Set over high heat and bring to a boil. Add the cauliflower to parboil and then remove after 3 to 4 minutes, when the cauliflower is about three-quarters done. Drain completely.

Meanwhile, in a dry pan over medium heat, toast the pine nuts just until slightly fragrant, about 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.

In a 10-inch cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Add the cauliflower florets and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until they start turning golden brown. Add the garlic, curry powder, and thyme and continue to cook until the florets are fully golden brown and crispy in places, about 10 minutes. Add the dates and pine nuts and toss with the cauliflower. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat and discard the garlic and thyme.

Add the cauliflower mixture to the tortillas, then the olives, top with some roasted tomato salsa, and finish with the fenugreek. Serve immediately.


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