16 November 2009

Vegan Tacos!

by Janos

On Sunday night I was tired and still all head buzzy from Aaron's birthday the night before (Mac & F-ing Cheese!) and decided to stick close to my favourite comfort food in the world: beans and tortillas. Plus it gave me an opportunity to make a dent in the huge stack of tortillas my Mom gave me last week. Now I should note that I hadn't intended to make vegan tacos, in fact, I didn't even realize the dish I made was vegan until I stopped to take account of the ingredients when writing this post. And I didn't have cheese or the energy to go out and get some on a dark and rainy Vancouver night. I should also note that this is my own recipe and that I don't tend to measure things because I modify this recipe based on what I have in the kitchen and what I'm in the mood for. Also absent is onion, which is a staple of the dish, but I didn't have any.

corn tortillas (home made or store bought)
1 can Black beans (drained)
1/4 can (796ml) of Diced tomatoes
1 medium sized zucchini
1 carrot
1/2 head of broccoli
2 cloves of garlic
1 chipotle (or less or more)
Olive oil

Drain and rinse the canned beans and put into a medium sized pot, add water until the water level is about 1-2 cm above the beans. Place on stove and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until the beans start to split and go really soft. You may need to add more water depending on the firmness of the beans. Once soft, mash the beans and add salt and pepper to taste. You want the mashed beans to be about the consistency of sour cream, if they're too soupy then keep them simmering until they thicken up (stir regularly). I tend to prepare the beans first, then leave them on the stove while I prepare the filling since they can be reheated quickly.

Chop the carrot into rounds (about the thickness of 4-5 coins) and dice the zucchini. I tend to leave the zucchini pieces somewhat thick because I don't want them to fall apart when cooking. For the broccoli, I tend to pull pieces off from the stem and then cut split those lengthwise since the stem adds a nice bit of density to the tender tops. Chop the garlic cloves into 3 big pieces or however you prefer (I like having big chunks), finely dice the chipotle, and open the can of tomatoes. In a large pan or wok add a couple of glugs of olive oil and crank up the heat to medium-high. When the oil has heated add the carrots and stir them around to evenly cook. When the carrots start to brown add the zucchini, broccoli and onion and stir occasionally so everything gets to brown against the bottom of the pan/wok. When the zucchini starts to brown add the tomatoes, their juice and the chipotle and cook until the tomato liquid had evaporated or the tomatoes have gone soft. It should only take between 3-5 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Let the vegetables rest while heating up the tortillas in a pan using medium heat, turning over once the tortilla has started to brown. If serving multiple people, then place the heated tortillas in between a couple of clean kitchen towels so they don't get soggy from the steam.

This dish is one of my lone dude staples since it can be made quickly (should be less than 20 minutes) and eaten while standing in front of the stove as another tortilla heats up. Or while drinking beer and dancing around the kitchen listening to The Jam. This recipe serves 2 and can be increased and modified easily. For example, the chipotle can be left out entirely if someone can't handle heat well or they suffer from the same problem as in The Dead Celebrities episode of South Park.

- add mushrooms
- add onions
- replace broccoli with green beans (these require a longer cooking time like carrots)
- replace chipotle with jalapeño or hot sauce like Tapatio
- add cheese like cheddar, soft goat cheese or sour cream
- garnish with cilantro & squeeze of lime

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