I know you’re not going to believe me, but I didn’t even realize these tacos were vegan until maybe the fourth or fifth time we made them. To give you an idea of how easy and thrifty the meal is, Andy scraped them together on one of those end-of-the-week nights when it felt like we had no food in the house, and we’ve been making and improving on the recipe ever since. Since going more plant-based, we have learned to lean on all mushrooms for their meaty consistency and deep umami, but this is doubly true for shiitake mushrooms. When you cook them long enough to release their liquid and get crispy, they taste like little bites of pork or beef. (Just don’t do a side-by-side taste test!) The recipe is in The Weekday Vegetarians, but I wanted to post it here so all readers can start off 2023 with a taste of the good life. You’re very very welcome!
Tacos with Refried Pintos, Crispy Shiitakes & Kale
Note: The easiest way to warm tortillas is in an oven, wrapped in foil, as directed here, but if I have time, I prefer to cook them over a grate one by one with tongs on the stovetop. Serves 4.
8 (6-inch) corn tortillas
1 (14-ounce) can refried pinto beans
1 tablespoon canned chopped mild green chiles
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, halved
Shake of dried red pepper flakes
4 cups sliced shiitake mushrooms (10 to 12 ounces)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 1/2 ounces kale (curly or Tuscan), stems removed, and roughly chopped (about 4 cups)
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
For serving: Avocado slices, chopped scallions (white and light green parts only), lime wedges
Preheat the oven to 300°F. Wrap the tortillas in foil and heat in the oven (for at least 10 minutes and up to 15) while you prepare the filling.
In a small saucepan set over low heat, heat the refried beans. Stir in the chiles, and keep warm over the lowest heat possible.
Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet set over medium heat. Add the garlic halves, cut-side down, and cook for 2 minutes to infuse the oil, then remove. Add red pepper flakes to the pan. Stir in the mushrooms, salt, and pepper and cook until they release all their liquid, 8 to 10 minutes. Once they are shriveled and crispy looking, stir in the kale and cook until it wilts, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the vinegar.
Remove the tortillas from the oven. Spread each tortilla with refried beans, then top with the mushroom-kale mix, avocado slices, and scallions and serve with lime wedges.
P.S. For more simple vegetarian recipes like this one, check out my New York Times bestselling book The Weekday Vegetarians. Reminder: All the fun stuff these days happens in the Dinner: A Love Story newsletter on Substack, which is consistently in the Top 10 most-read food newsletters on the entire platform. You can subscribe here.