So it’s Tuesday morning and you’re at work. An email pops up from your significant other and instead of the usual “Morning Baby” or “How was the meeting?” It says, “FUCK, I FORGOT I INVITED THADDEUS AND IMOGEN* OVER FOR DINNER TONIGHT! CAN YOU THROW SOMETHING TOGETHER OR SHOULD WE ORDER PIZZA?”
Oh, and did he mention that Thaddeus is a vegetarian and Imogen doesn’t eat gluten**? How convenient.
Not to worry dear, Kitchen Princess is here! And somewhat by accident. I didn’t intend to make very healthy tacos that happen to be vegetarian (vegan if you omit the cheese and use vegetable broth) and gluten-free…it just happened out of confused laziness. The confused part started at the Greenpoint Farmer’s Market, where I purchased an acorn squash and bushel of sad-looking lacinato kale without any firm intentions. BUT! Alex Karpovsky (from Girls) was in front of me, buying sweet potatoes! When life imitates Girls…lol.
So, armed with Alex Karpovsky-approved squash and kale, I trudged home through the slush to spend the rest of the afternoon reading manuscripts. Then afternoon became evening and I was suddenly starving but too cozy to go outside. But I had squash and kale…but also no other groceries. Thankfully I had hosted a kimchi quesadilla party (what, you don’t host kimchi quesadilla parties?) the week before and had some leftover store brand shredded cheese and some stale corn tortillas. With quinoa from the pantry (by pantry I mean large Ikea Expedit unit stuffed with half-eaten bags of rice, mason jars and various useless canned goods) and a few fresh cloves of garlic, I was magically in business.
I was pleasantly surprised by the flavor of these tacos so I thought I’d do what usually do and share my success with you! So next time you need to whip up a meal for some picky eaters you’ll have a game plan. From start to finish, this whole dish took me an hour but if you really plan this out you can have tacos on the table in 35 minutes. There are lots of moving parts and quite a few dishes, but if you follow my directions it’s not actually a difficult recipe.
Also, if you double the recipe, you’ll have lunch for the week! Just assemble the tacos the night before and wrap them individually in aluminum foil.
Oh…and did I tell you? I have a new hot sauce obsession! It’s Buffalo brand Chipotle hot sauce. It’s soupy, brown and delicious and not too hot.
*Note: I have nothing against vegetarians and gluten intolerant people but it’s just slightly inconvenient to cook for them. Now people who don’t eat gluten because they read trendy books like “Wheat Belly,” or decided they want to eat like Neanderthals, those people I have zero tolerance for. Girl, if someone takes the time to make you a homemade meal, you eat it.
**Note: I don’t actually know anyone named Thaddeus or Imogen but I imagine them to have annoying dietary restrictions.
Tacos with Quinoa, Kale and Roasted Acorn Squash
Makes 12 tacos
You will need:
1 small acorn squash
1 teaspoon + 1 teaspoon smoked paprika (or regular paprika or a spice you like)
1/4 cup olive oil (total)
1/2 teaspoon + 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 small bunch lacinato kale (about 20 leaves), roughly chopped into small pieces
1 chicken broth cube (bouillon) dissolved in 1 cup hot water- or one cup of chicken broth if you have it
1 Tablespoons lemon juice
3 cloves garlic, sliced – 2 for kale, 1 for beans
12 small corn tortillas
1 cup quinoa (rinsed and strained)
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 teaspoon Old Bay or other spice
1 can black beans
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar (optional, but really makes the beans better)
Chipotle hot sauce
1. Preheat your oven to 375 and line a baking sheet (cookie sheet or roasting pan will do) with parchment paper. If you don’t have parchment, just coat the pan with olive oil and pray that your squash doesn’t stick.
2. Cut your squash in half with a large knife (follow the the vertical ridges) and then slice into 1/2 inch slices like you would an apple. Lay the squash out on the lined baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle sparingly with paprika and salt. Then flip the squash slices over and season the other side. Bake for about 15-20 minutes until crispy. Then turn off the oven but leave squash in for another 10 minutes to keep warm (but watch them so they don’t burn).
3. Make the quinoa by combining 1 cup quinoa, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 2 cups water in a small sauce pan with a lid. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat (about 3 minutes) and then cover and cook for 15 minutes on low heat. Fluff with a fork, add the cheese and Old Bay and set aside, covered to stay warm.
4. In a large nonstick skillet, heat a healthy drizzle of oil over medium heat. Cook 2/3rds of the garlic for 2 minutes, then add the kale. Cook for another 2 minutes, then add the chicken broth and cook for 5-7 minutes until kale softens. Drizzle lemon juice on top. Remove kale from pan and set aside.
5. In another small sauce pan, heat 1/2 teaspoon olive oil over medium heat. Cook the garlic for 1 minute, then add the beans, paprika and vinegar. Cook for 5 minutes.
6. Wipe out the kale pan with a paper towel. Heat each tortilla (two should fit at a time) with a little bit of oil over medium-high heat. Serve right away: quinoa first, then beans, then kale, then squash. Top with hot sauce and salsa verde.