If “taco night” takes your mind to a greasy place of fried tortilla shells stuffed with a generic combo of sloppy refried beans, ground beef, lettuce, shredded cheddar cheese and sour cream, then you’ve been missing out on the taco renaissance currently underway in major cities nationwide.
Soft tacos with fresh, flavorful and inventive fillings are the name of the game, and there’s no ground beef, refried beans or cheddar in sight. While my heart belongs to the taco menu at Cascabel Taqueria (and their fabulous Luchador salad on the side), sometimes a girl needs a good, filling vegetarian taco option as well. And this, as it turns out, is easier said than found.
I stumbled across the perfect vegetarian taco to satisfy my spicy craving in a nauseous haze during my first trimester of pregnancy, when the very thought of meat made my stomach churn: the Aguacate taco at La Esquina.
The taco was a delightfully overstuffed affair starring a gorgeous green hunk of avocado accompanied by a scrambled egg, nestled in a doubled-up soft corn tortilla and accessorized with black beans, citrusy salsa verde, pico de gallo and a crumble of white queso fresco. (That’s a lot of taco to fit into a 6″ wrap… and a deal for just $3!) When drizzled with my favorite hot sauce, El Yucateco, I was in taco heaven.
I recently decided it was high time to make my own version of this divine taco creation, staying true to the original concept but swapping out the pico de gallo for some gorgeous pink pickled onions… they’re so easy to make and they have a transformative effect on a workaday taco. If you happen to have a grill going, I’d suggest grilling the avocado to take this recipe from divine to sublime, though the original version used raw avocado and was still perfectly delicious. Instructions on how to grill an avocado follow below.
(Makes 1 taco; multiply as needed)
- 2 soft corn tortillas
- 1/3 fresh, ripe avocado
- 1 egg, scrambled and fried
- 1 heaping tablespoon canned black beans
- Pickled onions (see recipe below)
- Salsa verde (storebought)
- Cotija cheese (aka, aged Mexican white cheese; or use other crumbly white cheese as available)
- Fresh lime wedges
- Sprinkle avocado with pinch of salt (alternate prep: grill avocado halves instead of serving raw. See note below for directions on how.)
- Warm corn tortillas one by one in a frying pan over medium (no oil) until soft; stash warmed tortillas stacked on a plate covered by a kitchen towel to keep warm and soft until ready to serve.
- Double up corn tortillas and fill each duo with beans, egg and avocado (in that order).
- Drizzle salsa verde to taste.
- Top with pickled onions to taste.
- Sprinkle cotija cheese to taste.
- Squeeze a lime wedge over the fillings.
- Serve with your favorite hot sauce as desired.
To grill avocados: Slice avocado in half lengthwise and remove pit. Brush with olive oil and lime juice. Grill flesh side down on a hot grill until pretty grill marks appear, about 5-7 minutes.
(Recipe from America’s Test Kitchen cookbook)
- 1 medium red onion, sliced very thin
- 2 jalapenos, seeded and ribs removed, and sliced into thin rings
- 1 cup red wine vinegar
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1/4 tsp salt
- Combine jalapenos, vinegar, sugar and salt in a small saucepan and heat until sugar dissolves.
- Pour mixture over sliced onions in a heat-resistant bowl; stir to ensure onion slices are covered
- Cover bowl and let steep for 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes, pour off the liquid and discard.
- Store extra pickled onions in a sealed container in fridge for up to a week.