Like many families, Taco Night was a weekly staple in my household growing up. And usually when taco night is “veganized” we reach for standard fare like beans and rice to fill our taco tortillas. Well here’s my creative spin on vegan taco night..
Tempeh Tacos! For this fiesta feats, lets perk up our palates with bold flavors like sweet maple-chipotle-spiced tempeh cubes, zesty citrus-pickled radish slaw, fresh crisp greens and thick luscious slices of avocado. All piled high on a healthy sprouted corn tortilla. Have a Tempeh Taco Night!..
Mexican food is one of my all time favorite cuisines. Growing up in California I was exposed to a wide variety of authentic Mexican flavors. I learned early on that most often, the best Mexican food comes from a tiny cafe shack down by the beach. Or in your very own kitchen. Nothing “highbrow” needed, just flavorful, fresh fare – crafted with care.
I used to love a tiny little beach side cafe called Costa Brava in Santa Cruz – they had the freshest veg burritos ever. Crunchy shoots of chopped cilantro in each bite. They used the leaves and the crunchy stems of the cilantro – genius! Try it – the zesty crunch is superb.
But if I can’t be back in Cali for my fave Mex eats, at least I can get creative in my own kitchen.
Tonight’s Main Taco Ingredient: Tempeh! (I adore tempeh. I actually prefer it over tofu most nights.) Learn more about Tempeh here. Nutrition facts and info.
Why Tempeh? Well I personally love rice/beans paired with all the mex bells and whistles (guac, salsa, etc). But since my husband is a “veganish” eater and hates rice and beans, I really needed an alternative taco stuffer ingredient. Tempeh cubes it is!
This recipe is perfect for lunch, but add a few sides, and your taco night dinner is set! Sides for this meal? A few ideas…
Side link -> if you ever do find yourself eating at Chipotle for Mexican eats – be sure to check out my 5 Healthy Vegan Dining Tips at Chipotle.
And now onto the recipes!..
Tempeh Tacos with Pickled Radish Slaw
1 avocado, sliced into long strips (toss in lime or lemon juice to prevent oxidation)
1 cup crisp greens (I used pea shoots but you can sub with mache, chopped cilantro or another leafy green)
3-5 corn tortillas, warmed
sides (salsa, rice, plantains – whatever you’d like!)
Spiced Mexican Tempeh
1 package tempeh 8oz, cut into cubes
2-3 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoon maple or agave syrup
1 teaspoon liquid smoke
¼ teaspoon cumin powder
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon spicy chipotle powder
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
½ orange, juiced
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
Pickled Radish Slaw
*this watermelon radish recipe is similar
1 white onion, sliced into thin rings
1 ½ cups radish slices (rounds, or julienned sticks)
¼ cup seasoned rice vinegar
½ orange, juiced (opt’l: microplane some citrus zest in too)
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon olive or grape seed oil
½ teaspoon coriander (opt’l)
opt’l: a drizzle of tahini
garnish: orange slices
1. The night before you make this recipe you will want to prepare your radish slaw so that you can have it chilled and lightly pickled the next day. I used watermelon radish, but you can use classic red radishes if you’d like. If using red radishes (which are less sweet than a watermelon radish) add in an extra spoonful of sugar. This helps the pickling process. Toss your radish slaw ingredients and place in the fridge overnight.
watermelon radish for the pickled radish slaw:
2. About a half hour before you want to eat: prep your avocado slices and tempeh. set aside your taco fillings (pea shoots, avocado, pickled radish slaw – and anything else you may wat to have on hand).
3. Warm your tortillas in the oven. I wrap mine in foil and place in warm oven – a little olive oil rubbed on them. I liked these sprouted corn tortillas even though they were a tad on the dry side. Next time I’ll probably stick with traditional corn tortillas or better yet – make my own!
4. Tempeh. This tempeh is really a quick saute. Toss all your ingredients in a large bowl – so the tempeh is well coated with the seasonings. Turn on your saute pan. Since your tempeh has been tossed in the olive oil you don’t need to ‘grease’ the pan. But you can add more if you’d like. Saute over medium-high heat until the edges of the tempeh start to brown. Remove from heat and transfer to your serving bowl.
5. Assemble your tacos! This is the fun part. Assemble however you’d like. And like I said, you can add salsa, vegan sour cream, vegan Daiya cheese, rice, beans, guac – whatever you’d like! You can even wrap your ingredients into a large whole wheat tortilla burrito wrap or stuff the tempeh cubes into enchilada wraps, slather in enchilada sauce/vegan cheese and broil int he oven – then serve the chilled slaw on the side. The “taco night” opportunities are endless. Enjoy!