It’s Taco Tuesday, so as expected, we’re talking about the food favorite of most people. Tacos are my answer to almost half of the food-related questions. What do I want for lunch? Tacos. What’s a fool-proof meal for a non-experienced chef? Tacos. Food for a picky eater? Tacos. Fun assembly line family time food? You guessed it, tacos! They are extremely versatile with an ever changing rotation of ingredients and ways to cook them. To celebrate tacos today and every day, here are some delicious versions and recipes you may (or may not) have heard of.
The Deconstructed Taco
The name is key if you’re trying to eat a little healthier without ringing the alarm, because yes, a deconstructed taco could also be referred to as a salad, but not necessarily here! This can also be served as a ‘walking taco’ in a bag of Fritos for a fun campsite or tailgating meal with next to zero clean up. A deconstructed taco consists of shredded lettuce, seasoned meat, kidney beans, salsa, and shredded cheese. Go crazy with additional toppings such as cilantro, chives, avocado, grilled veggies, and more. I like to add hot sauce to the salsa to kick it up a notch, and consider it more for a ‘dressing’ consistency. Fresh lime juice is also great to use for that.
Take Inspiration From the Food Trucks Around You
I’m a big believer in that if you love how a certain place prepares a dish; you should let them prepare it for you. But what if you don’t live nearby, or the place closes? I found this recipe Googling one of my favorite former food trucks, The Flying Pig Taco Truck and sure enough, someone had gotten their delicious smoked chicken taco to enjoy at home. Now most people don’t own a smoker, but you can skip that initial step, especially with tender chicken thighs in this delicious braise! I’d also adapt the mentality of “use what you have” or use this recipe as an excuse to get a few things you should have on hand. I’d also buy rice vinegar, as it’s so useful in many fusion and Asian dishes, but perhaps skip tracking down 1oz of lemongrass.
Is That a Cheddar Taco Shell?
One of the best parts of a taco is that sweet shredded cheese topping, but have you ever tried making a taco shell out of that delicious cheese? It’s fairly simple, fun to make, and the end result is beautiful. Heat a non-stick pan over low to medium heat, sprinkle thick grated or shredded cheese evenly around the pan, and let it slowly melt a bit and stick together. Once it starts to bubble and firmly hold together, take a spatula and pull it off the pan and onto a (here’s the fun part) wooden spoon that you can drape across a wide bowl. The handle of the spoon will serve as the to mold your taco shell, so adjust accordingly for even taco shells and just repeat several times to make multiple shells.
Italian Pasta Tacos
I can’t think of two more crowd pleasing types of food than Italian and Mexican, so when you can pair the two, why wouldn’t you? Buy those big, beautiful extra large pasta shells and cook according to package directions, then line them up in a glass baking dish. Fill with seasoned ground beef, taco sauce, and any other toppings you want hot (minus the shredded cheese), cover with tinfoil and pop into a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes while you prep a salad or cut some lime and avocado wedges, a bowl of sour cream, etc. to accompany the pasta tacos. Cover the pasta tacos with shredded cheese and cook 10 min longer without the foil – maybe even put the oven rack up another notch so the cheese gets all crispy. Let cool a few minutes and serve! Should you need, more in-depth directions can be found here.
Happy Taco Tuesday!
– Guest Contributor, CR