As my fermented tomato sauce was sitting on the kitchen counter (recipe here), unfolding its fermentation process, I was getting the inspiration of transforming this sauce into fermented tomato salsa. Remembering there were corn tortillas in the freezer for another meal, I decided to make a dinner with tacos, once the tomato sauce became ready.
It was a perfectly warm summer day when I opened the jar of tomato sauce and the sauce was bubbling so actively. It is ready! Tonight is the taco night! I have a bunch of cilantro with which I am going to make the cilantro pesto (recipe here), and I have avocado. Everything is ready and it is perfect weather for enjoying Mexican food.
Preparing a Mexican meal is still quite a new experience for me. I was introduced to this culinary culture after I moved to California. So, this dinner I made is certainly far from the authentic Mexican food, but it was very delicious!! And it is so healthy, completely vegan, yet very satisfying. My husband, who is a Mexican food lover, gave me big thumbs up and enjoyed it so much, which was exactly what I had hoped for!
Making vegan tacos as a satisfying meal without rice and beans
To make vegan tacos as a complete meal without rice and beans was a task I gave to myself for this dinner. I have made tacos for lunch with sautéed vegetables and tempeh on top with some slices of avocado and home made salsa. Although it was very delicious, this might be too light of a meal for a dinner menu. I remembered my favorite dish of tempeh tacos on the menu at Shine Cafe in Morro Bay: on the top of the tortilla, there is a mixture of tempeh and cooked quinoa with delicious seasoning, then on the top of that, a big salad and slices of avocado. It is so delicious! This inspired me to add some cooked quinoa as a part of the topping, which would make each taco more substantial. This was an absolute success! The key was that I cooked quinoa with some vegetable broth which made it more flavorful, working well with the other toppings I made. As quinoa is higher in protein than other grains, this would also add a good amount of protein to the meal.
My vegan taco today
Here is the combination of toppings I made for today’s tacos! :
On a pan-heated corn tortilla,
- Cooked quinoa with vegetable broth (water:broth=1:1)
- Sautéed zucchini and onion with a clove of garlic, cumin, salt, and pepper (olive oil)
- Pan fried sliced tempeh with a small amount of light olive oil
- Cilantro pesto
- Fermented tomato salsa (fermented tomato sauce + cilantro)
Deliciously multi layered flavors and textures!
This was absolute success! Cooked quinoa added perfect volume as well as nutrition, especially being cooked with the veggie broth. Sautéed zucchini and onion’s juiciness and tender texture with the crispness and the deliciousness of the pan fried tempeh were wonderful combination on top of the quinoa. And the fermented tomato sauce salsa!! What a beautiful and complex flavor! With creamy cilantro pesto and this salsa, there were so many layers of aromas and flavors in one bite. Once I make my own fermented hot sauce, I will definitely add to this taco and try again. It will be even more delicious!
No rice and beans this time, but to make it a more complete meal, I decided to make a cold soup with fresh cucumber and avocado. It is easy to make, and it is so delicious! It reminds me of the feeling of drinking gazpacho. Perfect for the warm season. So, I called this “cucumber gazpacho.”
- 150g Cucumber
- 50g Avocado
- 10g Hemp seed
- 100ml Vegetable broth
- 1tsp Lemon juice
- Lemon zest (I peel some lemon skin with the peeler and put in the blender.)
- Fresh ground pepper
- EV olive oil
- Step 1 Blend all the ingredients together in a blender.
- Step 2 After serving in a bowl or cup, you can crush the black pepper on top and drizzle some olive oil.
- 6 Corn Tortilla
- For Cooked Quinoa:
- 1/2 cup quinoa
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup vegetable broth
- For tempeh
- 70g tempeh
- Olive oil
- For Sautéed Vegetables:
- 1 Zucchini
- 1/2 Medium size onion
- 1 Garlic clove
- Olive oil
- 1/2 Avocado
- For Cilantro Pesto:
- 50g Cilantro
- 40g Cashew
- 2tsp Lemon juice
- Lemon zest
- 1/4tsp Salt
- 40ml Water
- *You can find the recipe for this pesto in my article 'Vegan Non-Oil Cilantro Pesto Cold Pasta Lunch.'
- For Fermented Tomato Salsa:
- Fermented tomato sauce
- Fresh cilantro
- *You can find the recipe for fermented tomato sauce in my article 'Fermented Tomato Sauce—unstoppable deliciousness!!.'
- Step 1 Have a half cup of quinoa rinsed and soaked in half a cup of water for over 8 hours prior to cooking.
- Step 2 Put quinoa and its soaking water into the grain pot. Add a half cup of vegetable broth and bring to a boil.
- Step 3 Once boiling, bring the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes. (If you are using Le Creuset’s grain pot, simmer it for 10 minutes and let sit for at least another 10 minutes.)
- Step 4 Cut the tempeh in thin slices.
- Step 5 Cut the onion and zucchini into desired size and shape. Mince the garlic.
- Step 6 Heat the pan with olive oil and lay sliced tempeh to fry until it becomes golden in color. Once golden, flip the tempeh and fry the other side in the same way.
- Step 7 Once both sides are golden, place onto a plate or in a bowl to have ready when serving.
- Step 8 Heat the same pan with olive oil at medium low heat, adding garlic to infuse the oil with its aroma.
- Step 9 Put the onion into the pan and sauté until its color becomes half-translucent.
- Step 10 Add zucchini and sauté together. After a minute or so, add salt, pepper, crushed cumin seed (or cumin powder) and further sauté until the vegetables become tender. Adjust the flavor.
- Step 11 Heat another pan to heat up the tortillas.
- Step 12 Once tortillas are warmed, put them onto the plate.
- Step 13 Fluff up the quinoa and place desired amount on the tortilla.
- Step 14 Add the sautéed onion and zucchini on top of quinoa, then sliced avocado and tempeh on top of it.
- Step 15 Put some cilantro pesto, fermented tomato salsa, and chopped fresh cilantro on top.