Smokey Spicy Sweet

I must admit I am posting this primarily for selfish reasons. Do I want you to run to your kitchen and make these tacos? Absolutely. But only if you send some my way. I have to remember this out-of-the-blue recipe I made on a busy Monday night. It’s a must-repeat.

Chipotle Bacon Black Bean Tacos with Cilantro Slaw

Taco Stuffing
4 slices bacon
1/2 sweet onion, diced
salt
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp brown sugar
2-4 chipotle peppers with adobo sauce
3 T. quality salsa – Trader Joe’s Chipotle Garlic is a winner
2 cans black beans
1/2 lime

Slaw
1 1/2 c. shredded cabbage – I used green but often use red for tacos
1 bunch cilantro, finely chopped
the other 1/2 lime
salt

Accoutrements
whole wheat tortillas
salsa
shredded cheese
avocado or guacamole
sour cream

  • In a bowl, toss cabbage, cilantro, lime juice and salt. Set aside.
  • In a food processor, puree chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. You can use fewer peppers for milder heat, but use all the smoky, sultry sauce – it’s invaluable. Finely dice with a sharp knife if you lack a processor.
  • Fry your bacon until good and crispy; set aside to drain and chop roughly. Leave a little bacon grease in the skillet.
  •  Add the onions to the skillet, season with cumin and salt to taste. Cook 2-3 minutes, then add brown sugar and cook a few more, until golden brown, soft and fragrant.
  • Stir in black beans, pureed chipotle en adobo, bacon, salsa and lime juice. Lower heat and stir until well coated and hot.
  • Serve each taco with a smear of sour cream or guacamole, a heap of sizzling spicy beans, a sprinkle of cheese and a generous crunchy topping of slaw. A little extra salsa can’t hurt, especially if you used fewer chipotles – just try not to let your taco overflow!

Summer in a Taco

I can’t think of a better way to describe this unbeatable recipe from my all-time favorite, Smitten Kitchen (yes, again). I seriously think these are possibly the best homemade tacos I have ever cooked. The recipe is deceivingly simple and it might not really sound all that exciting on first glance. Well, that’s because you haven’t eaten these tacos.

This “slaw” does it all by itself. I knew before I even finished cooking that this is a recipe I’ll make again and again, just by eating a spoonful (or 3) of this gorgeous, colorful medley of raw zucchini-radish slaw with lime and cilantro. I added jalapeno for a little kick and wouldn’t mind throwing in some red cabbage  next time for extra crunch.

I know you might be thinking that this dish is too light – all veggies in a taco? Where’s the meat or beans? You might also be thinking it’s too heavy – all that starch between the corn and tortillas. You’d be wrong on either assumption. These are a perfectly satisfying, well balanced, healthy, cheap and delicious meal. Beat that. I dare you.

Now I must admit, I made a few very slight variations on the original recipe. I folded the cilantro into the slaw, rather than the corn-onion mixture because I wanted it to stay as fresh and bright as possible, and not wilt in the heat. I oven-roasted the corn because it was WAY too hot to fire up the grill, and I don’t have a gas stove (yet). Also, sadly, my grocery store is a little too Bethesda to carry Cotija cheese, so I replaced it with feta, but it was delicious all the same. Note: must track down a local Latino market.

I also chopped up half a jalapeno in the slaw, and used cumin instead of chili powder in the corn and onions. And we prefer flour tortillas over corn.

I seriously cannot recommend this recipe highly enough. It was incredibly easy, pretty quick, very cheap, super healthy and absolutely delectable. Worst case scenario, you eat a third taco and oops, you’ve eaten too many vegetables today…. what a shame.

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