swiss chard + beet tacos with spicy vegan crema


tacos were never really my thing.  to this day i almost always eat out of the tortilla.  when i was a kid and it was taco night, my plate would often look like a deconstructed taco: a hard El Paso shell cracked in half with shredded cheese on either side, chopped lettuce, tomato, and shredded carrot in a pile to make a salad of sorts, and - when i wasn't being a vegetarian - a scoop of chopped meat on the side, without one piece of food touching another.  i never ate the sour cream until i was probably in my 20s, and i barely dipped my tortilla chip in guacamole.  yes, i was quite picky.  i guess my pickiness hasn't changed, only my way of making food i eat a lot better.   i now have broader knowledge of how to make my diet not just tasty, but really good. 

back to the tacos.  they're more of a seasonal taco than anything.  whenever i make these i generally use what's at the farmers' market that week and throw the ingredients together.  the past few weeks i've seen a lot of swiss chard, and now beets!  i added a poblano pepper for a little bit of heat, fresh spring onions for flavor, and quinoa for some protein.  the spicy vegan crema is cashew-based.  if you tolerate dairy and don't want to make cashew crema, i would suggest using sour cream and adding the lemon, paprika, and cayenne.  if you're vegan and nut-free, then i would sugget the same only using soy sour cream.  the amounts added to either sour cream should be done in small increments.  store bought sour cream (both dairy and soy) have added ingredients that the cashew crema does not.  so, add a little bit at a time, and taste as you go.  personally, i was really impressed with the cashew crema; it was super easy to make and the taste exceeded my expectations.  i'm totally looking forward to using it in more dishes.    


swiss chard + beet tacos with spicy vegan crema

this recipe is good for 2 adults, with one taco leftover.  i would recommend doubling the taco filling recipe if you are planning on serving more people.  additionally, the crema makes about 1 1/2 cups, so if you are doubling the recipe you should have plenty of crema to go along with the tacos without having to make more. 

| makes 5 small tacos

taco filling: 

  • 5 small beets (3 large), julienned
  • 1 bunch swiss chard, de-stemmed and chopped
  • 1/2 cup quinoa, cooked
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 1 poblano pepper, de-stemmed and seeds removed
  • 5 small tortillas  
  • 1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil

spicy vegan crema: 

adapted from Akasha Richmond, Food & Wine - March 2012

  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt

instructions

make the crema

  • in a medium heat proof bowl, cover the cashews with hot water and let stand for 2 hours.  drain and transfer the cashews to a food processor.  add the lemon juice, vinegar, paprika, cayenne, salt, and 1/2 cup of water.  puree until smooth and creamy - about 6 minutes.  (i added more water to make the consistency a little thinner)

make the tacos

  • pre heat oven to warm and line a baking sheet with parchment paper
  • cook the quinoa according to the instructions on the package.  cook, and let sit 
  • in a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  add the poblano pepper and cook for 2-3 minutes.  add the onion, cook for another 5-6 minutes - until the onion is soft.  add the beets, sprinkle half of the chili powder and salt, stir and cook for about 7 minutes.  lastly, add the swiss chard, cook for about 1 minute - until the leaves are wilted. 
  • in a large bowl, mix the vegetable mixture and quinoa.  add the remaining chili powder and salt - mix to combine  
  • heat a small skillet on medium, one by one toast the tortillas on each side.  once toasted, place a dollop of crema in the center of the tortilla.  add a heap of the swiss chard and beet mix.  place in the warm oven and repeat with remaining tortillas
  • remove from oven and garnish with cilantro.  enjoy these as is or with extra crema!