My eating habits have been known to confuse people. I tend to order vegetarian options while dining out, not because I’m a vegetarian, but because I really like vegetables and because I didn’t grow up with the concept of meat being a mandatory part of my meals. I did, however, grow up picking fresh tomatoes from the vine and eating them whole, and I think my early childhood experiences eating raw vegetables fresh from the Earth cultivated within me a deep love of all things fruit and vegetable.
Really though, I’m not a vegetarian. I eat meat. Sometimes. I’ll get the occasional steak and it’s hard to keep me away from bacon, but meat is something I rarely crave and it’s not something I miss when I don’t have it every day or even every week. I’m weird about meat, I guess. I don’t like to handle it raw and I’ve got such an aversion to chicken that I’ve essentially cut it out of my diet. I think I know too much about how chickens are raised for mass consumption and after driving past a few chicken farms on the way to the beach a few years ago, I just can’t do it anymore. The stench was awful and it made all those horrible images I’ve seen in food documentaries come to life.
I guess maybe I’ve always had a weird relationship with food. Growing up on a farm does that I guess. We raised chickens and cows and pigs and ducks for meat and I was all good with that. I could feed a chicken on Tuesday and eat it for dinner Wednesday, no problem. And if I knew that what was on my table came from a place like that, where chickens really did run around free range, where cows really were grass fed and where ducks spent their days floating and flapping around a pond, I’d probably eat more meat. But, those documentaries have scarred me for life. I can’t get the images out of my head and what’s worse, when the meat I eat is poor quality, my stomach can tell. I can eat the hell out of some Whole Foods grass-fed hamburgers, but you plop a Big Mac in front of me and while I’ll champion through and eat the shit, I’m sure to regret it within the hour.
At home, we’re mostly meatless. A lot of people are alarmed by this, wondering how we can survive without slabs of meat gracing our kitchen counters, but I think we do okay. We’re well-fed, really. Eating dinner without meat isn’t that hard, and meat isn’t really a requirement for a well-rounded meal.
One of my favorite things to make and eat are black bean tacos. Except for these are not any black bean tacos, these are the best fucking tacos in all the land. They’re based on this recipe and they beat out any other taco I’ve eaten. Ever.
MAGICALLY DELICIOUS BLACK BEAN TACOS.
Makes 4-8 tacos, depending on how you like your bean to taco toppings ratio.
You will need:
1 can black beans, rinsed.
1/2 teaspoon cumin.
1 tablespoon lime juice.
2 cups coleslaw mix – we use Trader Joe’s broccoli slaw, but any slaw, broccoli or cabbage, will do.
cilantro, around a handful, chopped.
1/2 an avocado, chopped, if you want to get a little crazy.
salt and pepper.
Take your black beans, all rinsed and drained and pretty-like, put them in a bowl and add the cumin. Mash the beans and the cumin together, lightly. Don’t worry about mashing all the beans, just get it all good and mixed and cumin-covered and mildly mashed.
Grab another bowl, add the slaw, chopped cilantro, lime juice, avocado (which is totally optional by the way), a little salt, a little pepper and then stir it all up. I like to taste the slaw to be sure it’s got enough lime on it and to be sure it’s a little salty and a little peppery. I like a lot of flavor and tend to just add lime juice until I feel like it’s got enough of a kick.
Heat around a tablespoon of olive oil in a pan on medium to medium-high heat. Once that’s nice and toasty, add a tortilla to the pan, put a spoonful or two of beans on one side of the tortilla, then flip the empty tortilla side over the bean side to make a taco shape.
Let the taco cook for a minute or two, flip it, then let it cook on the other side until it gets crispy and golden. Once both sides are crispy and delicious, transfer to a plate.
I’m kind of a crazy person and so for some reason, I rip up little squares of aluminum foil to put my tacos in after they come off the stove. I don’t wrap them, really, but putting them in the center of a diamond of tin foil, then joining the corners over the top of the taco helps it all stay together better.
So, put your taco on it’s tin foil piece, open up the taco a little bit, being careful not to burn your fingers off, stuff some of the slaw mixture in the taco, then add a healthy amount of feta on top and close the taco back up.
Continue cooking tacos until all your beans are gone. Add additional oil to the pan as needed.
The truth of the matter is, feta + lime + taco = perfection. And I’d eat these tacos over any meat-ridden taco I’ve ever met.