I was never a huge fan of Mexican food, and would eat it every once in a while, despite living at the epicenter of Americanized-Mexican food. Most Mexican restaurants put chicken stock and/or cheese in just about everything, and I had no problem giving them up when I went vegan. However, sometimes absence makes the heart grow fonder. As a result, when Cinco de Mayo started looming closer, I started thinking about a taco night. I was planning on being at work pretty late tonight, so I celebrated Cinco de Mayo eve last night. Please note that in some regions, it is referred to as Quatro de Mayo, and some may just know it by it’s more commonly occurring instance: Taco Tuesday. I enlisted the help of a talented and capable sous chef to help bring my vision into being.
Trader Joe’s has great fat-free vegan refried beans, and we jazzed them up by heating them and then mixing in about a quarter cup of cheddar daiya. They may look a little weird coming out of the can, and fresh beans would always be preferable, but as a quick side dish, they cannot be topped. Unless of course, you are also making Spanish rice. Usually I will cook brown rice in vegetable stock, but last night I also cheated and used pre-cooked brown rice, which I mixed with some sauteed onions, garlic, vegetable broth, and half a can of crushed tomatoes. We just set that on medium heat and let the liquid cook off. We took quite a few shortcuts last night, but I feel like we illustrated a very important point: it is possible to cook a quick and healthy dinner on a week night. Plus, it was delicious.
I rounded out the menu with mushroom tacos, home-made pico de gallo, and guacamole. My guacamole recipe is very simple. Take an avocado and mash it with a tablespoon of lime juice and a touch of garlic salt. That’s all you need. Avocado is delicious on it’s own, and if you think you need to muck it up with a bunch of other things, you are sadly mistaken. If you need to be fancy, you can garnish it with a sprig of cilantro. Otherwise, you can find an outlet for your fancy cooking by referring to the recipe that follows.

Mushroom Tacos

  • 1 container of white button mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 TBSP red chili powder
  • 2 cloves minced or crushed garlic
  • 1/4 c. vegetable broth

In a sautee pan or wok, stir together the chili powder, cumin, garlic, and vegetable broth. Bring the pot to medium-high heat.
Add the mushrooms and cook until the liquid is absorbed, stirring frequently.

Home-made Pico de Gallo
here’s a chance to show off your fancy knife skills, or to just make a mess of things

  • 2 diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 of a green pepper, diced
  • 2 TBSP. minced onions
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 4 sprigs of cilantro
  • pinch of sea salt

Prep your vegetables and toss in a bowl with the lime.
Remove the leaves from the cilantro and chop into small pieces. Toss in with the vegetables and season with sea salt to taste.