Beet and Eggplant Tacos

20190307_195507I really really really love tacos. If I opened a restaurant, it would probably be a taco restaurant. They are relatively easy to make, they are a punch of flavor, they please vegans, vegetarians, and meat-eaters, and they offer endless possibilities. So many taco recipes out there are meat tacos, but I hope to ADAPT my favorite taco toppings while exploring the vegetable universe for great fillings. (NOTE: Interested in that bean salad in the picture? Here it is!)

The details:

Jump to recipe

Thought process:

I recently made tacos with a chili powder roasted butternut squash filling. I really enjoyed that, so I decided to riff on the concept with some different roasted vegetables and spices. To choose the vegetables, I went to my local produce market and found what was available – in this case beets and eggplant. I then consulted the Flavor Bible to figure out what spices would go with those vegetables, and in what proportions (trying to balance the “loud” flavors and the “quiet” flavors). Dill is a common pairing with beets, so I decided to give that a try even though it seemed kind of weird in a taco. Otherwise I chose pretty standard spices, many of which go with both beets and eggplant. I’ve COMBINED the below toppings from a few different recipes over the years, but together they provide the BALANCE to the sweetness of the filling that makes these tacos sing – spicy, sour, salty, crunchy, and fatty. If you’re only going to make one topping, make the “magic” sauce. You won’t regret it.

Charring Corn Tortillas – I like flour tortillas, but I don’t think they add to a taco in the same way that a corn tortilla does. A few years ago I had a gas stove and started quickly charring the corn tortillas directly over the flame while warming them. This was game-changing – the char gives them a smoky campfire flavor and really brings out the sweet corn taste. My tacos were completely elevated. Now I’m back to an electric stove. I tried charring them on the electric burner this time, but it tasted weird. Until I get a gas stove again, I’ll have to soften them in the microwave.

Image result for immersion blender

Immersion Blenders – I use an immersion blender to make the “magic” sauce directly in the storage container, because it’s the only blender I own. If you’ve never seen one, immersion blenders are basically a blade on a stick that you submerge into the pot/bowl/pan that you’ve prepared your ingredients in, rather than transferring the ingredients to the carafe of a blender. It’s easy to clean, reduces the number of dishes and transfer of hot liquids, and takes up less space than a regular blender. It’s not as powerful as something like a Vitamix and couldn’t crush ice. If you already have a standard blender, feel free to use that.

Below, the recipe:

Beet and Eggplant Tacos
16 tacos

Roasted Beets:

  • 1 pound red beets, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp curry powder
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp ground ancho chile pepper
  • 1/4 tsp dried dill, crumbled between hands (see note)
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F
  2. In a medium bowl, toss the beets with the oil and spices the distribute in a single layer on a small baking sheet
  3. Roast for 45 min, stirring occasionally until tender

20190307_194912

Roasted Eggplant:

  • 2 pounds eggplant, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1/2 Tbsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground ancho chile pepper
  • 1/2 tsp dried dill, crumbled between hands (see note)
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  1. In a large bowl, toss the eggplant with the salt and let sit
  2. When the beets have been roasting for 20 min, toss the eggplant with the oil and remaining spices, distribute on a large baking pan and place in the oven with the beets
  3. Stir the eggplant after 10 min to avoid burning
  4. Both the eggplant and the beets should be ready at the same time

“Quickled” (Quick-pickled) Red Onions:

  • 1/2 medium red onion, sliced thinly
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp granulated sugar
  1. In a small bowl, mason jar, or tupperware container, mix all ingredients and let sit at least 20 minutes to pickle. Stir occasionally. The longer this sits the better they get.

Cabbage slaw:

  • 1/2 small green cabbage, shredded

  • Juice of 1 lime

  • 2 tsp sesame oil

  • 1 Tbsp sesame seeds

  • Pinch kosher salt

  1. Combine all and let sit to soften

“Magic” Cilantro Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup sour cream

  • 1 Tbsp canola oil

  • Juice of 1/2 lime

  • 1 clove garlic

  • 1/2 serrano pepper w/ seeds

  • 1 cup cilantro

  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt

  1. Combine all the sauce ingredients in a tall tupperware container or mason jar
  2. Puree with an immersion blender 1-2 min until green

Assembly:

  • corn tortillas
  • crumbly, salty cheese such as cotija, queso fresco, or feta
  • cilantro leaves
  1. Char a tortilla (if possible) and layer in beets and eggplant, slaw, pickled onions, sauce, cheese, and top with a few leaves of cilantro

Rating:

4/5 stars.

4 stars

The beets were a bit too sweet, even though I usually like butternut squash tacos, which are also sweet. These toppings have been my favorite for a long time and could turn sawdust into a tasty taco, so still 4 stars.

UPDATE: These got so weird in the fridge! The dill flavor got much stronger and became all I could taste. Really unpleasant with the toppings. The toppings are still 5 star toppings, but I actually couldn’t stomach the whole combo. I ended up making a new filling that worked much better, although it you remove the dill from the above recipe that should also work:

Parsi Sambhar Masala Mixed Potatoes

  • 3/4 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch dice
  • 3/4 pound yellow potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch dice
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp parsi sambhar masala spice mix
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  1. Toss all together and roast at 425°F for 45 min or until browned, stirring occasionally

One thought on “Beet and Eggplant Tacos

  1. Pingback: Vegetable Taco Soup – Results Not Guaranteed

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