Sunday, May 6, 2012

Cinco de Mayo Black Bean Tacos

Today I find myself cursing marathon runners. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s great that people run marathons – it just sucks when the marathon route prevents me from reaching Toronto Billy Bishop airport. The ride from my home to the airport usually takes 10 minutes. This morning, King of Soup asked me if I was going to take a cab or if he and the kids could give me a ride. We decided that it would be nice for them to drive me so we could have a few more moments together before I skip town for a few days to attend a conference in Montreal.

We departed our home one and a half hours before my flight was scheduled to leave. One and a quarter hours later I arrived at the airport. Needless to say there was a lot of stress, many curse words (KoS has a potty mouth), and the kids actually fell asleep in the backseat during the journey. 

Of course, I missed my flight. I am now booked on a flight that leaves two hours after the original flight. This leaves me with some time to kill – what better time to describe the delicious tacos I made last night for Cinco de Mayo.

The first time I had a taco was just two weeks ago. I am kind of embarrassed to admit this, but I am just getting up to speed on Mexican food. Two weeks ago, while at another conference in Ottawa, we went to a little restaurant in the Byward Market called Sidedoor. It’s a tapas-sort-of-style place, with small plates that people share. I am not a good sharer. Generally because I am very picky, a vegetarian, and a picky vegetarian (for example, I don’t like eggplant, mushrooms, raw tomatoes, tofu...). Sigh. I can be difficult, I know. Did I mention I am picky?

So I asked the waiter, as my colleagues were ordering fish tacos, pulled pork tacos, duck tacos...or maybe it was lamb – some cute animal anyway...if he could fashion for me some kind of vegetarian taco that didn’t have eggplant, mushrooms, raw tomatoes or tofu. He told me that it would not be a problem at all (I like it when waiters say stuff like that).

He brought me a vegetarian taco that was DELICIOUS. It had tempura avocado in it (I know, right???), and some sauce, and another sauce, and some leafy greens. I don’t know what was in it but it was great. And it inspired me.

So since yesterday was Cinco de Mayo, and the KoS loves Mexican food, and he had been toiling all day long with his Dad making improvements and repairs to our humble abode, I decided to take a stab at tacos. Baby steps.

Here’s what I did. I am not claiming them to be gourmet by any stretch of the imagination, but they were delicious.


1 red pepper, sliced in long strips (not too thin)
1 green pepper, prepared the same way
1 yellow pepper, prepared the same way
1 small to medium sweet onion
Some garlic (now tragically I somehow had no fresh garlic so I was forced to use garlic powder – it was fine but I am sure it would be better with fresh)
½ to 1 can black beans, rinsed well and drained
Handful of cilantro
½ - ¾ cup salsa
1 – 2 tsp sambal olek (or other hot sauce, or jalapeno peppers diced finely)
Salt and pepper
½ cup grated cheese
Olive oil
Salt, pepper, 1 – 2 tsp cumin (ground)
I also used 1 tsp of epazote, a Mexican herb mixture that I picked up recently at Penzey’s in Santa Monica -


Small amount diced tomatoes (these were for the KoS)
A few handfuls of arugula (this works well because it is nice and peppery)
Home made guacamole (see my previous blog about guacamole)

The Wrapper:

Soft flour taco shells (wrap the stack in foil, seal it up, place it in a 300 degree oven until they are warmed through - ~15 minutes)


Place some olive oil (maybe 2 tbsp) in a sauté pan and when it’s heated up a bit throw in your onions. Keep them at a high heat for about a minute and then turn it down a bit to medium-high to sauté the onions. When they start to brown around the edges (or longer, to your taste), toss in the peppers and the garlic, and add the salt and pepper and the cumin and epazote. Sauté for a few more minutes.

Then add the jalapenos or the hot sauce, the black beans, and the salsa. Let simmer but only for about 2-3 minutes. Then toss in the fresh cilantro.

The mixture is ready.

To Serve:

Remove the soft taco shells from the oven. Take one and place it on a plate. Put some of the pepper, black bean, onion, salsa mixture in the middle of the taco shell. Add a few tablespoons of guacamole, then some arugula, the tomatoes (if you like that sort of thing), and a bit of grated cheese. Squeeze some lime on there for tartness.

And there you have it! Tacos!

You could easily serve this with the Texas Caviar (recipe posted last week), or with another fresh salad.