I’ve made this taco “meat” business several times, but I finally photographed it several weeks ago so I could post the recipe. That is, several weeks before business school started.
I just have to laugh when I think about life pre- and post-start of business school. I really did have an astonishing amount of free time to experiment in the kitchen/go to hot yoga/grocery shop/read books for fun…whereas now it feels like a gift if I take 10 minutes to go make a healthy single-serving cookie (from this cookbook!).
Luckily, I have a handful of recipes that I’ve been holding on to that will be showing up shortly as I figure out how learning happens again.
The idea for this taco meat first came about when I botched a batch of chickpea fries and my roommate was like, “this kinda tastes like tacos.”
So I made tacos.
This recipe essentially calls for cooking chickpea flour (one of my favorite ingredients), seasoning and water into a drippy polenta; the key is drizzling the mixture onto a cookie sheet. Once you let the drizzled lumps dry into a semi-firm polenta, you fry them with onions and seasoning to make incredibly tasty vegetarian taco meat! You can make a big batch and use it in tacos, sandwiches, on top of salads (think: black beans, corn, avocado, shredded lettuce, salsa). The smallest drips ( that fry up into salty, crispy little nuggets) are my favorite.
Note: I tried using green cabbage leaves for the taco “shells” here, but they were not my favorite. I prefer crunchy purple cabbage leaves or real-deal tortillas.
- For the taco seasoning:
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1/2 tablespoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon oregano (optional)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- few grinds pepper
- For the taco meat:
- 1 cup chickpea flour*
- 1 cup chopped white or yellow onion
- olive oil
To make the taco seasoning:
Whisk all taco seasoning ingredients together.
To make the taco "meat":
Whisk 3 tablespoons of seasoning into the chickpea flour breaking up any clumps to get as smooth a consistency as possible. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Once boiling, lower heat to medium and whisk in chickpea flour, again trying to eliminate most lumps--the mixture should begin to thicken immediately. If mixture starts to sputter, lower heat and continue to cook the mixture for an additional minute. Turn off heat.
Using the whisk, drizzle the chickpea mixture in small clumps over a cookie sheet, leaving space between each clump (you may need several). This creates the "meat" shape and texture. Let the mixture cool and dry for at least 20 minutes.
In a medium saucepan, heat a small glug of oil over medium heat. Add onion, 1 tablespoon of taco seasoning and a big pinch of salt. Scrape the chickpea mixture off the cookie sheets with a spatula and add to the pan with another tablespoon of taco seasoning. Cook for another 2-3 minutes. Add additional seasoning to taste, if needed.
Serve hot with tortillas, cabbage leaves or on top of a salad!
*Chickpea flour is also called besan or gram flour. I buy large bags at my local Hispanic superstore, but you should be able to find it in the ethnic section of most grocery stores.