Inspired by the taco emoji, with its hard taco shell and layers of filling, this variation stars tempeh. Made from fermented soybeans, tempeh is generally sold in 8-ounce bricks. Crumble it or shred it on the large holes of a grater, then saute with all of the usual aromatics and spices. Fill hard taco shells or your choice of tortilla, then top each taco with cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, salsa, sour cream and hot sauce — or however you like them. This also makes a fine taco salad.
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Total time: 30 mins
Storage Notes: Refrigerate leftovers for up to 4 days.
Tested size: 2 servings
3 tablespoons vegetable or another neutral oil
8 ounces tempeh, grated or crumbled (see VARIATION)
1 small onion (about 5 ounces), preferably yellow, minced or coarsely grated
2 cloves garlic, minced or finely grated
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons water, plus more as needed
1 tablespoon taco seasoning mix, plus more to taste (see NOTE)
4 to 6 hard taco shells or other tortillas, warmed if desired
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded cheese, preferably colby or a meltable blend, plus more to taste (optional)
1 cup shredded lettuce, preferably iceberg
1 medium tomato, diced
Sour cream, for serving (optional)
Chunky salsa, for serving (optional)
Hot sauce, for serving (optional)
In a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat, heat the oil until it shimmers. Add the tempeh and onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until they start to brown, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the tomato paste, letting it toast slightly and begin to brown and coat the tempeh, about 2 minutes. Stir in the water and taco seasoning. Taste, and adjust seasoning and add more water, if desired. Remove from the heat.
To build the tacos, scoop about 1/2 cup of the tempeh crumbles into each taco shell or tortilla. Divide the cheese, if using, and lettuce and tomatoes among each taco shell. Top with the sour cream, salsa and hot sauce, if desired, and serve.
VARIATION: Instead of tempeh, use a 14-ounce block of extra firm tofu, pressed and crumbled, or a pound of lean ground meat. If using ground beef, lamb or turkey, omit the oil as the meat will contain enough fat to saute the other ingredients.
NOTE: To make your own taco seasoning, for 1 tablespoon: Combine 3/4 teaspoon fine salt, 1/2 teaspoon onion or garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin, 1/2 teaspoon paprika (any kind), 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper and 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes.
From staff writer G. Daniela Galarza.
Tested by Kara Elder.
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