Updated: Jun 28
Tacos are usually associated with meat, dripping pork or tender lamb, but today's dietary changes have required chefs to get creative and develop recipes for vegetarian versions of this classic dish. I have published a number of vegetarian tacos recipes on my blog, and quite frankly I do love the vegetarian version on occasion as I transform myself to a healthier diet. Have no fear, you will see lots of meaty versions too.
One of the ingredients that I love but is not available in India is tomatillos. I have worked around this in some recipes by using green tomatoes and lime juice. I realize that this is not perfect, but sometime we have to get creative to enjoy a recipe that looks wonderful.
We all take tacos as everyday foods today, but I was curious about the history of this dish. One theory, not proven, is that it comes from the silver mine in Mexico from the in 18th century. The term "taco" refers to the small amount of gunpowder that was wrapped in small paper sheets and used to carve the rock for ore. This looked very similar to the gently folded taco of today loaded with meat and salsa. The first reference for a taco comes from the 19th century in a dish termed tacos de minero, or miners taco. So the dish is not as old as we may imagine. More on the history of tacos here.
These tacos are super simple to make and absolutely amazing. The crunchy asparagus is complimented beautifully with the spicy cilantro salsa and the flavors dance on your palate. These were tacos that disappeared faster than I could make them, they were that wonderful.
This is a wonderful book from the famed restaurant in San Francisco. I love the recipes and flavors in this book. The chef has compiled a wonderful selection of recipes, both traditional and contemporary to make your palate happy and get rid of those cravings for great Mexican food. This is a book I love o cook from.
For more recipes from this cookbook click here.
2 tablespoons oil
2 large white onions, thinly sliced in half moons
4-5 garlic cloves, minced
2-4 jalapeño chilies, seeded, and minced, or to taste
Salt, to taste
1 large bunch asparagus, bottoms peeled and cut into 2-inch peices
Pepper or plain cheddar cheese, or, shredded Oaxacan cheese
For the cilantro salsa:
1 large bunch cilantro, leaves and tender stems, keeping some leaves for garnish
3 large tomatillos, or 2 small green tomatoes + juice of 1 lime
1-2 jalapeño chilies, seeds
2 cloves garlic
1/2 small white onion
To make the salsa:
If using the tomatillos, add the tomatillos (whole), jalapeños, and garlic to a small pot and add 1/4 cup water. Salt and simmer for 6-10 minutes. Drain the water and cool.
Add the cooked mix to a small blender with the cilantro and purée till smooth. Taste and adjust salt and spice. Chill till needed.
To serve, add onions and mix in well. Pour into a bowl and garnish with the cilantro leaves.
If using green tomatoes, add the tomatoes, cilantro, and jalapeños to a small blender and purée to a rough consistency. If you want, you can also finely dice all the ingredients, but iI find doing it in the blender is easier.
Finely dice the onions and mix in. Squeeze in the lime juice. Allow the flavors to mellow out in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
Serve garnished with the cilantro leaves.
To make the tacos:
Heat a wide frying pan with the oil and add the onions, jalapeños, and garlic. Sauté on low heat for 5-6 minutes till the onions are very soft and have not taken on any color. Add the asparagus and sauté fr 2-3 more minutes till thet are tender, but still retain a crispness.
To serve, heat the mix well. Spoon into taco shells letting the asparagus to stick out in all directions. Top with cheese while still hot so it melts.
Serve immediately with the salsa on the side.