Bean & Butternut Tacos with Green Salsa
Beans and roasted butternut squash make an outstanding vegetarian taco filling. For the best flavor, use fresh, good-quality chili powder and Mexican oregano. Look for both at Latin markets or in the bulk spice section at well-stocked natural-foods stores.
- 8 ounces tomatillos
- 2 cloves garlic, unpeeled
- 1 jalapeño pepper
- 1/4 cup sliced white onion
- 1/2 ripe avocado, diced
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Freshly ground pepper to taste
- 4 cups diced (1/2-inch) peeled butternut squash
- 3-4 small dried red chiles
- 2 cloves garlic, unpeeled, smashed and left whole
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 3/4 teaspoon dried oregano, preferably Mexican, divided
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
- 1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds, plus 1/2 teaspoon ground toasted cumin seeds (see Tip), divided
- 2 cups cooked pinto beans, drained (see Tip)
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- Freshly ground pepper to taste
- 8 6-inch corn tortillas
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
- 1/2 cup finely shredded and chopped red or green cabbage
- 8 teaspoons crumbled queso fresco (see Note), or feta cheese
- To prepare salsa: Bring a pot of water to a boil. Remove husks from tomatillos and rinse well. Cook the tomatillos in the boiling water until soft, 5 to 8 minutes. Drain and set aside.
- Toast garlic cloves, jalapeño and onion in a dry medium skillet over medium heat, turning occasionally, until browned, fragrant and soft, 5 to 7 minutes.
- When cool enough to handle, peel the garlic. Remove the jalapeño stem and remove seeds if desired. Combine the tomatillos, garlic, jalapeño, onion and avocado in a blender or food processor. Process until smooth. Stir in cilantro, salt and pepper. Set aside for topping the tacos.
- To prepare tacos: Preheat oven to 400°F.
- Put squash in a medium bowl and, using kitchen shears, finely snip chiles to taste into small pieces (seeds and all) into the bowl. Add garlic, oil, 1/2 teaspoon oregano, 1/4 teaspoon salt and whole cumin seeds; toss to coat. Arrange on a baking sheet in a single layer. Bake until soft and beginning to brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Peel and finely chop the garlic when cool enough to handle; stir into the squash.
- Meanwhile, combine beans in a small saucepan with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon oregano and 1/4 teaspoon salt, ground cumin, chili powder and pepper. Heat over medium-low heat for about 10 minutes.
- Warm tortillas one at a time in a dry large cast-iron (or similar heavy) skillet over medium heat until soft and pliable. Wrap in a clean towel to keep warm as you go. Spoon 1/4 cup of the warm beans into each tortilla; divide the roasted squash evenly among the tacos and top each with cilantro, cabbage, 1/2 cup of the salsa and cheese. (Refrigerate the remaining 1/2 cup salsa for up to 2 days.)
Tips & Notes
- Make Ahead Tip: The salsa can be prepared ahead (Step 1-3). Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days.
- Tip: Toast cumin seeds in a small skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until very fragrant, 2 to 5 minutes. Let cool. Grind into a powder in a spice mill or blender.
- Ingredient Note: Queso fresco, also known as queso blanco, is a soft, slightly salty fresh Mexican cheese. You can find it in Latin markets and many supermarkets.
- Tip: How to Cook a Pot of Beans
- 1. Pick over 1 pound dry beans to remove any pebbles or broken beans and rinse well under cold water. Place in a large bowl, cover with 3 inches of cold water and soak for 4 to 24 hours.
- 2. When you’re ready to cook the beans, heat 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add 1 small chopped onion, 2 to 3 chopped garlic cloves and 1 chopped celery stalk (optional). Cook, stirring, until the vegetables are beginning to soften, 3 to 4 minutes. Drain the beans and add to the pan. Add enough cold water to cover the beans by 1 inch. Bring to a boil and boil for 5 minutes. Lower the heat to a bare simmer, partially cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 20 minutes to 3 hours, depending on the freshness of the beans. If at any time the liquid level drops below the beans, add 1 cup hot water. When the beans are nearly soft, stir in 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. (Do not drain: beans are best stored in their cooking liquid and the liquid can be used in some recipes.)
- Makes about 6 cups.
- Cut Down on Dishes: A rimmed baking sheet is great for everything from roasting to catching accidental drips and spills. For effortless cleanup and to keep your baking sheets in tip-top shape, line them with a layer of foil before each use.
Per serving: 406 calories; 9 g fat (2 g sat, 4 g mono); 3 mg cholesterol; 70 g carbohydrates; 0 g added sugars; 13 g protein; 13 g fiber; 517 mg sodium; 1006 mg potassium.
Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin A (254% daily value), Vitamin C (60% dv), Folate (49% dv), Potassium (28% dv), Magnesium (25% dv), Iron (20% dv), Calcium (16% dv).
Carbohydrate Servings: 4
Exchanges: 3 1/2 starch, 2 vegetable, 1 lean meat, 1 1/2 fat
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