Q: What’s the best night of the week?
A: Taco night. Hands down. Always.
The prospect of taco night has excited me since I was a young child. (Evidently my life has never been that exciting.) My mom would pick up an Old El Paso taco kit at the grocery store, which was a staple of any decent 1980s childhood. The kit came with about 5 too many taco shells, taco seasoning, and some kind of red sauce. She’d also pick up a packet of shredded cheese, sliced black olives, sour cream, green onions, and a big tomato. When the taco filling was ready, we’d get to assemble our own tacos. I’m not even sure why I’m explaining this process to you, since you’re probably already familiar.
Sadly, taco nights were lost to me for a while when I stopped eating meat and animal products. But once I stepped outside of the culinary comfort zone of the Old El Paso taco kit, I was able to take taco night to a whole new level. No offense to my parents, but vegan taco nights have been the best I’ve ever experienced!
For example, these portobello, tempeh and white bean tacos. They are spicy, meaty (yet meat-free!) and have plenty of fiber and protein. They are gluten-free if made with corn shells. The pineapple salsa is a must for this recipe. The sweetness of the pineapple perfectly balances the heat from the tacos. In my opinion, this is what makes the dish, so don’t leave it out! If you’re not a fan of pineapple, you could probably substitute another fruit…maybe strawberry or mango.
Portobello, Tempeh and White Bean Tacos with Pineapple Salsa
Preparation Time: 45 minutes
1.5 C fresh pineapple, chopped into 1/4″ cubes
1.5 C seeded and diced tomatoes
1 small white onion, diced
1/2 C cilantro, finely chopped
1 jalapeno, diced (leave seeds in for more heat, otherwise remove them)
juice from 1 lime
1/2 tsp kosher salt
2 portobello mushroom caps, diced (be sure to scrape out the gills first)
8 oz tempeh, cut into dice
1 14-oz can white beans
1 medium yellow onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 8-oz can tomato paste
juice from 1 lime
2 C vegetable or vegan “chicken” broth
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp smoked paprika
1 tbsp oregano
salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste
vegan sour cream
vegan shredded cheese (I recommend Daiya brand)
Combine all salsa ingredients into a large bowl. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and onions and cook for about 5 minutes, until onions begin to soften. Add portobello and tempeh and cook about 5 more minutes, until the mushrooms begin to give up their juices. Add the white beans and spices, cook for about 3 more minutes.
Add the vegetable broth and tomato paste. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and let simmer for about 20 minutes, or until sauce begins to thicken. When sauce is close to desired texture, stir in the nutritional yeast and add the lime juice. Adjust seasoning with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes.
Serve on taco shells and top with pineapple salsa and desired toppings. There will be plenty of leftover pineapple salsa, so store any remaining in an airtight container. It should keep in the fridge for a few days.