I read somewhere that the best way to slow down time is to immerse yourself in something completely new and your perception of time will change. I’ve tested this theory a lot this year – visited a new country, landed a new job, made a dear new friend and even managed to find myself in a new romantic relationship. Well it turns out those crazy writers were right. Time slowed down during each of these experiences and some of my favorite memories came from all that exhilarating newness. The experiences continue with this new and delicious hybrid taco.
A few weeks ago I ordered tacos for the first time at my favorite vegan cafe in San Francisco, Seed & Salt. When they arrived there was no tortilla in sight just a light green lettuce leaf with some stuff inside. With a bit of reluctance, I took a bite and to my surprise they were so good. Like really, really good. The leaves were light yet crisp and left a sweet earthy aftertaste. The filling, some kind of tempeh mix, was spicy and warm. It was the perfect combination.
I loved them so much I took this idea and created my own version using an old Mexican favorite, tortas de papa or potato cakes. These delicious little potato patties, traditionally made with egg and cheese then lightly fried, are popular in Oaxaca. I veganized them by replacing the egg with a vegan substitute and used quinoa for protein and texture. I topped with a tangy salad and hugged it all with a lettuce leaf. I served them to a very discerning omnivore audience, made up of both adults and kids. They were sold at first bite and left my table wanting more. Needless to say, I’m super proud of my hybrid tacos.
This recipe will make you delve a little deeper into veganism because you’ll have to go out of your way to purchase the vegan mayo and egg substitute but I promise you it’s totally worth it. You’ll fall in love with these tacos and time will slow down as you savor one after another. The bonus is you’ll feel so good after because they’re so light on the tummy.
Tortas De Papa (Makes 15-20 tortitas)
3 medium organic russet potatoes
1 large clove of garlic finely chopped
1 small white onion finely chopped
3 teaspoons of EnerG Vegan Egg Replacer mixed with 3 tablespoons of water
1 cup of cooked quinoa
1/2 cup of soyrizo ( I made half my tortas with and half without)
Tomato & Cilantro Salad
1 basket of cherry tomatoes
5 stems of Green Onion
1/4 cup of red wine vinegar1/2 cup of Chipotle Flavored Vegan Mayo
Coconut Oil for lightly frying tortas
1 head of organic green butter leaf lettuce to replace tortillas (see below)
Tortitas De Papa: Cut potatoes in half and boil until just soft. In a large bowl mash potatoes evenly with a fork or whichever tool you prefer. Make sure to leave a tiny bit of texture. Add the cooked quinoa, onion, garlic and salt to taste. After this is all mixed together add the EnerG Egg replacer and mix well. Separate the masa in half. Mix in about a 3/4 cup or more of soyrizo to one half and leave the other as is. Now you can start to form your potato cakes. I like to make the size of my cakes a bit smaller than the palm of my hand, a tad bigger than an oreo cookie. After you have formed all your cakes set aside and cover.
Making the Tomato & Cilantro Salad: Slice cherry tomatoes in half, chop cilantro and green onion. Mix together in a bowl. Dressing: Combine the mayo and vinegar in a glass jar, cover and shake until well blended. Add dressing to salad and toss. Set aside.
Prepping the Lettuce Leaves: Gently pull leaves one by one from base. Clean and pat dry.
Frying Tortas: Heat your frying pan and add enough coconut oil to cover the base but not so much that your tortas are in any way immersed. Remember these are lightly fried not deep fried. Fry in batches until each torta is golden on both sides with a lightly crunchy skin.
Assemble tacos shortly after all your tortas are fried. Leaf first, then torta, top with the salad and serve. Use one or two tortas for each leaf depending on size of torta.