Sweeten the Pot

It’s been a minute since I’ve had time to sit down to write again! When we got back from our Pioneer Woman mini-vacation to Oklahoma, we had just a little time to breathe and do laundry before we were back to work and our normal activities full stop. We’ve had few opportunities to try anything novel or exciting, butt hat hasn’t stopped me from daydreaming about the easy meatless tacos from her newest release The Pioneer Woman Cooks: The New Frontier: 112 Fantastic Favorites for Everyday Eating an uncle gave me for Christmas!

I don’t mind meatless meals every so often, but The Mr prefers some form of animal protein with his meals. So, on a night when he was working late, I decided I had to keep up my little weekly ritual of tacos on Tuesday and I threw together some Sweet Potato and Kale Tacos from her chapter entitled ‘Meatless Dishes.’ Ree used to be a vegetarian in her California days so she knows a thing or two about coaxing alot of flavor from simple, hearty vegetable main dishes. I doubt she can get away with that completely now that she’s married to a cattle rancher, but she makes the effort nonetheless.

I’m a huge fan of both sweet potatoes and kale to begin with so I already anticipated liking these tacos, but with the combination of spices used on the veg in addition to roasted red onions, I was utterly blown away by the whole affair. I expected them to be good, if humble and average, but they refused to just settle for “good.” They were great. Humility was traded for austere subtlety. Average was traded for unusually extraordinary. I was unable to find a link to the recipe online, so I’m sharing my spin below!

Ingredients:
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1sm bunch kale, stemmed and roughly chopped
1/4 red onion, sliced thin
2tbsp EVOO
2tbsp rendered bacon fat
1tsp chipotle chili powder
1/4tsp ground cumin
3/4tsp kosher salt
4sm tortillas of choice (I prefer Siete Almond Flour tortillas)
1/2c sour cream
1tbsp adobo sauce from a can of chipotle peppers in adobo (if some of the pepper gets in there, that’s ok! It’ll be even more delicious!)
Juice of 1/2 lime
1/2 heaping tsp grated Piloncillo, raw honey, or molasses
4-6oz cotija
1c rough-chopped cilantro
1 whole lime, cut into 8 wedges

Directions:
1) Preheat oven to 450°F. In a large mixing bowl, combine sweet potatoes, kale, and onion. In a small bowl combine the EVOO, melted bacon fat, chili powder, cumin, salt, and some fresh cracked black pepper. Drizzle the fat-spice mixture over the veg and toss to coat all.
2) Spread the seasoned veg mixture on a lg baking sheet and roast the veg for 25min.
3) While the veggies are roasting, in a food processor or blender, combine sour cream, adobo, lime juice, piloncillo sugar, and some fresh grinds of S&P. Process until well combined and transfer to a small bowl. Chill until the veggies are ready.
4) With 10min left on the veg, wrap the tortillas in foil and place on the other rack in the oven. While you have the oven open, give the veggies a little toss and place back in the oven to finish roasting. (Alternatively, you can warm the tortillas in a microwave for 30sec at a time in a warmer. You can heat them in a skillet on the cooktop, but this truthfully isn’t my favorite method.)
5) Build the best meatless taco! Place a warm, soft tortilla or two (or three) on a plate and pile some of the roasted veg in center. Add a generous spoonful of the chipotle cream, some crumbled cotija, and chopped cilantro. Drizzle a squeeze of fresh lime juice over top and try not to devour the whole pan in one sitting!

With pickled red onions being a staple on many south-of-the-border tacos, the roasted red onions in this dish add just the right amount of tang and zest. The spiced sweet potatoes were creamy and sweet, but not cloying. The kale was bright and slightly charred around the edges, lending a pleasant earthy crunch. The chipotle cream added a gentle heat along with cool creaminess. I wanted to lick the crema-bowl clean!

If you prefer to work with something less sweet, you can use russets, Yukon golds, or even pumpkin! The cotija added a nice, salty component to offset any sweetness threatening to puncture the reverie of this dish. It’s quite fair to surmise, I don’t think I’d change one thing about this dish as presented. Other than a few differences from the original based on available ingredients, it was just right! (I don’t say this about recipes often.)

When The Mr got home later that night, he served himself up some of these meat-free tacos partially out of desperation for a late dinner… partially from my needling… partially out of curiosity. The verdict? Even he was impressed with the amount of flavor loaded into each neat parcel. He still wasn’t sold on the idea of meatless tacos, but they tided him over nicely for a late-night nosh. He even happily tossed some of the veg mixture and cotija into eggs the next morning for breakfast! I still ate the lion’s share of the recipe myself, but I’d say it still passed muster in my house.

I served the tacos with some of that delicious and addicting Cilantro-Lime Rice I wrote about not too long ago! What are some of your favorite meat-free dishes?

Currently Reading: Passionate Nutrition: A Guide to Using Food as Medicine by Jennifer Adler

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