Taco dinners are always popular at our house, no matter who comes for over for dinner! With a little planning, you can have a tasty assortment of taco makings on the table in no time. It’s fun to serve, because each person gets to create their “own” tacos. This is especially nice for picky eaters of all ages!
Taco night always start with cooking a big pot of beans from scratch. Dried beans are best, but the canned ones are handy when you’re in a hurry. I cook mine in a slow cooker! I sort and rinse the beans, then put them into the crockpot with a coarsely chopped onion, a little Mexican oregano and a teaspoon of salt. I add boiling water, cover the pot and cook them on high until they are soft, but not mushy. Most beans are ready in about two to three hours. All I do is check the water level every so often and taste a bean for softness. When they have finished cooking, I let them sit for a while, then drain and divide them. This way I can make a couple of differently seasoned bean, lentil or black-eyed pea dinners.
Chipotles are one of my favorite chile peppers! I especially like them in bean dishes and Posole! In case you are unfamiliar with chipotle en adobo, they are smoked jalapeño peppers in a spicy tomato-based sauce. They add heat (use only a little to start and add more if you like it spicier) and a wonderful smokiness to any dish. They come in small cans and can be found in the Mexican/Hispanic food section in almost any supermarket or online. Whenever I open a can, I purée the whole thing and keep the rest in the refrigerator. That way, I can add a dollop to any dish that needs a little smoky heat! They are also available in dried form, but I find that the quality between different brands varies quite a bit. Fresh dried chipotles are fragrant and soft. If they feel brittle, they are probably too old.
With these taco dinners, I always serve guacamole, homemade or store-bought salsa, pickled jalapeños, sautéed veggies and the beans. Depending on who’s coming for dinner, I also will have some sour-cream and grated cheese. For sides, we love jicama with a squeeze of lemon or lime and sprinkled with herbal salt, cilantro potatoes or rice and a big mixed salad.
I’m getting hungry just thinking about it!
Here is what to do for the tacos:
- 2 to 3 cups cooked black-eyed peas, or other beans
- 1 chopped onion
- a few cloves of chopped garlic
- puréed chipotle en Adobo ( I purée a small can and put the rest into a container, as it keeps well )
- some chopped mushrooms ( I used shiitakes )
- a chopped red bell pepper
- chopped fresh cilantro
- sea salt to taste
- corn or flour tortillas
Heat a heavy skillet, then add a little olive oil.
When hot, add the onion and sauté until golden.
Next, add the garlic and mushrooms.
After a few minutes stir in the bell pepper and cook for a few minutes.
Add a little of the chipotle purée and cook until fragrant.
Mix in the black-eyed peas and cook until everything is piping hot.
Mix in the chopped cilantro.
Taste to see if you need a little salt or more chipotle.
Heat the tortillas on a hot griddle (I like cast iron) and serve with all the taco trimmings!
With the leftover peas, I made burritos the next day. I roasted some cubed sweet potatoes and red onions to change it up a bit. I actually don’t care for sweet potatoes all that much, but roasting them with a little salt and chipotle makes them divine!!
Here’s what to do:
- leftover taco beans
- 2 to 3 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-size pieces
- 1 large red onion, peeled and cut into bite-size pieces
- 2 tablespoons olive oil mixed with 1 tablespoon chipotle purée
- grated cheese if you like
- burrito size flour tortillas (I used whole wheat)
Preheat the oven to 400°.
Combine the sweet potatoes, onions and chipotle- olive oil mix in a bowl.
Spread this out in a single layer on an oiled baking sheet.
Roast for about 30 minutes. Halfway through stir the veggies up.
Remove from oven when nicely browned and tender.
Season with salt if needed.
Reheat the black-eyed peas or beans.
Put some of the grated cheese in the center of the tortilla if using.
Scoop some of the peas and sweet potatoes onto the cheese.
Fold the tortilla like an envelope.
Heat a cast iron skillet and spritz it with a little cooking oil.
Put the burritos seam-side down onto the griddle and crisp them on both sides.
Serve as is, or with a little salsa, pickled jalapeños and avocado.