It seems like every vegan blogger and instagrammer in the known universe (and their collective mothers) have created and shared photos of beautifully mashed potatoes. They're all on baking sheets with seasonings galore and usually some sort of drizzle sauce. And they all instantly make me salivate because I like potatoes more than… well, I don't know what. These are just my favorite veggies and I love them cooked anyway, but the broken holds a particularly sweet place in my heart. They are so crispy with just the right amount of oil and super soft on the inside. Then one day, looking at the 98th photo of mashed potatoes I had seen that week, I was struck with a bang: making TACOS mashed potatoes.
My reflection: okay, okay, okay. Kristy. Focus. FOCUS. Here's what you do: cook the glorious mashed potatoes with an ancho chili powder spice blend and put them in tacos with, dunno, like, chickpeas cooked with Tajín Clásico seasoning (I'm mostly obsessed with Tajín right now, but if you don't have access to it you can use chili powder, salt, and lime juice)? Oooh, ooh! How about an avocado, cilantro and lime sauce? And the watermelon radishes! (side note: I also cross a hardcore watermelon radish phase) And then you can top it off with chives or poop to be a little fancy. Finished.
I was almost delirious as I walked through the grocery store to grab the ingredients. I haven't been so excited about a recipe for a long time. This is the kind of recipe you know will be amazing before you even try it. I mean… The mashed potatoes are great on their own. And everyone loves tacos (and if they tell you no, they're lying). So mashed potatoes INSIDE TACOS! I am excited again. I need to regroup.
Okay. These mashed potato tacos come together pretty easily. Potatoes take the longest time to prepare - steam them, then mix them with oil and spices, mash them, then roast - In total, it takes about an hour. But most of that hour is just waiting for them to come out of the oven, during which you can prepare the rest of the components, which are all very simple to prepare. All the ingredients for the sauce go into a food processor or blender and blend until smooth. Easy peasy. Chickpeas still take a maximum of 10 minutes. Slice watermelon radishes, chop the chives and heat the tortillas. The moment the buzzer sounds for the potatoes, you're ready to stuff those hot spicy, crispy outside and soft inside mashed potatoes into their tortillas and top with all the things.
The first time I made these, I made six tortillas, enough for Chris and I to have 3 tacos each. Then we skinned our first three tacos each, interrupted only to whisper "these are ridiculous" and "daaaaaaammmmnnn" a few times. Then we looked at each other 7 minutes later, our plates empty except for a few stragglers of chickpeas and a few smears of coriander-avocado sauce, as if to say "so, what now?" After a moment of silence (and to see if there was more room in my stomach), I suggested, “There are more potatoes and chickpeas and gravy. And two more tortillas. Therefore…"
I don't think I need to tell you what happened next. Let's just say these mashed potato tacos were a hit. “One of your best recipes yet” and “the best tacos I've ever had” may have been mumbled. I don't want to brag. I just want you to try them. I think you'll love them as much as we do and if you're like me, they'll fit into your regular meal rotation as well.
Chili Roasted Mashed Potato Tacos with Cilantro Avocado Sauce
- 1.5 pounds of golden potatoes (golf ball size or smaller preferably)
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder / granules
- 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon ancho pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 3 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1 cup of fresh cilantro, lightly packed
- 1/2 avocado
- 1/4 cup lime juice
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder / granules
- 2 dashes of chili powder
- black pepper to taste
- 1 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- spray oil
- 1 tablespoon of liquid aminos
- 1 teaspoon Tajín Clàsico seasoning
- 1 tablespoon of lime juice
- black pepper to taste
- 8 to 10 tortillas
- 1/2 cup watermelon radish, sliced and quartered
- 2 tablespoons of chopped chives, optional
Coriander and Avocado Sauce
- Preheat the oven to 425. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Place the potatoes in a medium saucepan and cover with water. Cook over high heat until boiling. Once boiling, lower the heat to simmer and simmer for 10 minutes.
- While the potatoes are boiling, combine the salt, garlic powder, black pepper, ancho pepper and smoked paprika in a small mug. Put aside.
- After ten minutes, drain the potatoes. Transfer them to the prepared baking sheet. Drizzle with oil and then sprinkle with the spice blend, reserving 1 teaspoon of the spice blend. Stir the potatoes until well coated. Distribute them evenly on the baking sheet and use a potato masher (or a fork or the flat bottom of a mug or whatever. You have my permission to be creative here) to gently mash each one (see note ). Sprinkle the remaining spices on top of the potatoes and transfer the baking sheet to the oven. Bake for 35 minutes.
- To make the sauce, combine all the ingredients for the sauce in a food processor or blender and mix / blend until smooth. I used a food processor because I wanted a bit more texture but a completely smooth sauce will work just as well. Transfer to a container and refrigerate until ready to use.
- To cook the chickpeas, spray a pan with the oil and heat over medium heat. Add the chickpeas, stir and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the liquid aminos and Tajín and cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is absorbed. Add the lime juice, stir and cook for another minute before removing from heat, adding black pepper.
- You can heat your tortillas using your preferred method or the directions on the package. If you don't have a preferred method, heat a cast iron skillet (or regular frying pan) over medium heat, then cook, one at a time, for about 45 to 60 seconds per side. Keep them on a plate, covered with foil, until ready to serve.
- To serve, place about 2 to 3 mashed potatoes on a tortilla, place a few chickpeas, drizzle with sauce, add the radish slices and sprinkle with chives. Repeat with the rest of the ingredients. Leftovers will keep for a few days, but potatoes are really best the day they're cooked. Enjoy!
You don't want to desecrate the potatoes - just squeeze them until they become a flatter version of their earlier personality. Their insides will drain and that's good. You want that. Just know that the flatter you are, the crispier they will be. And the less flat they are, the more they look like plain roasted potatoes. You want to find a happy medium. I would say anywhere from 1/2 to 1 inch thick, depending on the original size of the potato.
What foods are you obsessed with right now?
Photograph by Chris Miller
It’s easy to be cynical about the idea of New Year’s resolutions, but there is a lot of undeniable and powerful energy surrounding the idea of change at this time of year. For many of us, that change starts in the kitchen.
Maybe it means resolving to cook at home more often, to keep a well-stocked freezer and pantry, to waste less, or to make slightly more wholesome choices. Maybe, for you, this is the year in which you’d like to give veganism ( or vegetarianism ) a try.
Whether you’re trying to dip your toes slowly into the world of plant-based eating, or you’re ready to make a total shift, it can be helpful to keep a few things in mind.
Some people go vegan overnight, and they never look back. But for many others, a slow transition is more sustainable ( and pleasurable ) than a 180-degree turn. If the idea of going vegan feels daunting, start with a couple of small steps, like a Meatless Monday challenge at home, or switching one of your daily meals to a meatless and dairy-free option. ( You’d be surprised at how easy it is to trade your turkey sandwich for hummus, tempeh bacon, and avocado ).
I’m quick to say that vegan food is just food. While there are a couple of secret weapon ingredients to have on your radar ( nutritional yeast, I’m lookin’ at you ), for the most part a saine appetite for grains, beans, and produce is all you really need to get started. With that said, any dietary shift can be tricky, and veganism is no exception. So, before you get started, take just a little time to go over the basics of plant-based nutrition. Find a useful, all-in-one resource, like Brenda Davis and Vesanto Melina’s Becoming Vegan, or Ginny Messina and Jack Norris’ Vegan For Life. At some point, someone will ask you where you get your protein ( or your iron, or your calcium ), and while you could laugh the question off, it’s a lot more powerful to supply a quick, confident answer.
Going vegan expanded my palate dramatically : I learned about all sorts of global cuisines, warmed up to my spice rack, and tried ingredients I’d never considered before. But my culinary repertoire was pretty meager when I made the switch. If you already have some culinary experience, don’t assume that you’ll need to acquire an entirely new bag of tricks to eat vegan or vegetarian.
In fact, one really useful place to start is by looking at some of your favorite dinner recipes and thinking about how you might adapt them to be meatless and/or dairy-free. It may be as simple as removing some cheese ( or replacing it with cashew cheese ). It may mean trading the central protein for beans, soy foods, or even a hearty vegetable, like mushrooms.
Until I went vegan, I had never tried tempeh, soba noodles, kimchi, kabocha squash, nutritional yeast, millet, mulberries, or buckwheat…and the list goes on. Becoming vegan encouraged me to explore new ingredients, and it also introduced me to more global dishes.
A great many dietary traditions around the world are already plant-based, which means that végétaliens and vegetarians have many rich, exciting culinary folklores to draw upon. If you’re new to plant-based cooking, explore meatless dishes and recipes from other parts of the world ( Indian, Ethiopian, and Middle Eastern dishes are some of my personal favorites ). Dust off your spice rack and add new flavors to your food. Use your transition to plant-based eating as an excuse to try new grains, legumes, and vegetables.
A lot of folks assume that adapting a recipe to be vegan means replacing the meat or poultry with a faux meat, a block of tofu, or tempeh. That’s cool, but it can also be fun to think creatively and imaginatively about how to capture the essence of a traditional recipe without animal protein. No, lentil Bolognese isn’t really Bolognese, but it does capture the heartiness of the original; cashew banana yogurt is a far cry from dairy, but it does evoke the same, sweet creaminess.
Many people are surprised by how easy it is to go meatless. Cheese, on the other hand, is a different story. I myself used to utter the same words I hear constantly from readers, friends, and alimentation clients : ' I’d love to go vegan, but I can’t give up cheese. '
While I won’t pretend that giving up dairy is easy—it’s not, especially because it’s so ubiquitous in restaurant dishes—I will say that I had a much easier time living without it when I learned to make my own substitutes. Store-bought soy and almond cheeses weren’t cutting it ( especially nine years ago, when the alternatives were limited ), and soy creamers and yogurts left me feeling equally flat. Making my first batch of cashew cheese—which authentically captured the tanginess and texture of goat cheese—was a revelation. Homemade nut milk let me create creamy porridge and muesli far more authentically than did store-bought, non-dairy milk.
Over time, I’ve experimented with tofu paneer, tofu feta, and cashew yogurt, and the list is growing. Homemade dairy substitutes are creative, fun, and cost-effective, and I think they’re a big step up from what you can find in the store.
While I’m the first to point out that vegan proteins extend far beyond soy foods—encompassing tonalités of different céréales, legumes, nuts, and seeds—you really can’t beat tofu and tempeh for ' meaty ' texture and complete protein in meatless dishes. Both ingredients can be either memorable or mundane, depending on how you prepare them. I definitely recommend pressing tofu if you’re not already in the habit; it’ll create a firmer, more toothsome matière that most people prefer.
When preparing tempeh, be sure to use a boldly flavored marinade or sauce to help balance tempeh’s earthy taste, and if you find it bitter, you can steam it before marinating, too.
For the most part, I try to feature whole foods and homemade ingredients in my cooking. But in spite of the fact that I love to create my own dairy substitutes and I’d usually rather eat a scoop of lentils than a block of faux meat, I don’t eschew vegan products, and I think that keeping an open mind about them can really enrich the authenticity of your food.
This is especially important when you’re transitioning and vegan cooking still feels like a brave new world. Nine times out of ten, I’ll opt to use cashew cheese in a recipe rather than Daiya ( a melty, commercial vegan cheese ) ; coconut oil in place of Earth Balance ( vegan butter ) ; or grilled tofu in place of Beyond Chicken ( grilled strips of soy and pea protein that taste shockingly like chicken ).
But when I’m aiming for totally authentic, precise results, vegan substitute products can go a long way, and it’s comforting to know that they’re an option if I feel like taking a shortcut.
Over time, I learned to create vegan food with greater sensitivity to others’ tastes and traditions. I love a lot of really crunchy fare, from the aforementioned raw kale salad to tofu, sprouts, and grain bowls. And I know a lot of other folks who love these dishes, too. But sometimes being an ambassador of vegan food means knowing how to create dishes that feel familiar and appeal to a wide array of more conservative palates, like vegan lasagna, shepherd’s pie, or sloppy Joes.
And, if you’re trying to dispel the idea that all végétaliens eat is salad and prove that vegan food can be filling and hearty, then it’s all the more important to create dishes that evoke a sense of comfort.
Change feels a lot less daunting when you have company. If your family and friends aren’t exploring veganism along with you, then find community in other ways. Explore a vegan meetup or potluck in your community. Become a regular commenter on vegan food blogs. If you do have a friend who’s interested in plant-based cooking, convie him or her over for some recipe testing.
Studies show that failure to stick with a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle is often attributed to feeling ' different ' or isolated. Food is all about community and sharing, so do your best to share this lifestyle with people you care about—even if they’re not making the change along with you.