Ellen Clifford
October 04, 2015 8:30 am

Guys. It’s National Taco Day and we are CELEBRATING. And you should too! This week’s Book Cook creates (and instructs you how to create) the perfect vegan taco. It’s delicious. It’s flavorful. It’s perfect. Here we go.

In the oh-my-gosh-so-funny I’ll Have What She’s Having , author Rebecca Harrington test-drives the diets of the rich and famous, from Liz Taylor (steak and peanut butter, anyone?) to Karl Lagerfeld (20 gajillion Diet Cokes a day). Each diet is nuttier than the next. When Gwyneth Paltrow is the celebrity with the sanest diet, you know the world of celebrity diets is CRAZY.

The cool thing is, Harrington embarks on these diets not to get lean, but to try to imagine what life is like for all these celebrities. Besides just eating like celebs for this book, Harrington exercised like them, dressed like them, threw parties like them and took on their various life philosophies. She even bathed like Sophia Loren. (Scrub your scalp and rinse it until it squeaks and you are halfway there. Slather on heavy eyeliner to seal the deal.)

There are some surprising revelations along the way. Soaked almonds are delicious! Warm milk whipped with raw eggs a treat! Going off the Paltrow plan induces rashes! At least it did for Harrington. Please don’t sue me, Gwyneth. And then, there are some not so surprising moments. The big reveal on steak and peanut butter is this: it is repulsive.

The one take-home lesson I gleaned as your Book Cook is that tacos cure all evils. Harrington brings them up frequently. There’s Gwyneth Paltrow’s tacos with chipotle salsa i.e. the tacos her guests ate at a dinner party while she only had ratatouille, the shrimp tacos in honor of Cameron Diaz…my point is that tacos save the day.

In keeping with the theme of the book I made tacos to suit some strict diets. They are vegan, “raw optional” tacos. And really, they are tacos only in that they are folded and filling. There are no tortillas involved. In fact I’m pretty sure they are gluten-free too. Not that I’d call them “diet” food. Just delicious food.

A note on the topping: it is made from vegan ricotta, which I did not even realize existed until recently. I actually like it better than real ricotta. I used a pretty unique one whipped up using old-school cheese-making methods on almond milk. Being a vegan cheese skeptic I can’t vouch for it if you use a different brand. And I am not sure if the cheese is raw. If you want this to be vegan and raw skip the cream topping. But even if you make just the filling you will be danged pleased with the results.

Texturally this is a masterpiece, I gotta say. Please don’t be tempted to just use regular tortillas. The sharp, crisp, peppery, refreshing radish plays so smartly against the hearty spicy filling, all of which is made, dare I say, sensual with the cream topping. I was going to make these for a first date, then realized it was far to early in the relationship to let him taste my pink taco. Bah-dah-dum. Bon appetit!

Tasty Vegan Raw-optional Tacos adapted from Organic Avenue by Denise Mari

For taco shell:

  • 1-2 large watermelon radishes, very thinly sliced and soaked in salted water for one hour (The book says you can use rutabaga, a turnip or even just lettuce as your shell. Don’t soak if using lettuce)

For cream topping:

  • 1/2 cup vegan ricotta (I used Kite Hill)
  • 1 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1/2 very small garlic clove
  • 1/4 tsp. chipotle chile powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt

For filling:

  • 1/2 cup (60 grams) unshelled sunflower seeds, soaked in water for at least 8 hours and drained
  • 3/4 cup (30 grams) of sun-dried tomatoes, soaked in water 2-3 hours and drained (I bought the kind that were in a bag and halved, not the type in any kind of liquid)
  • 1 small tomato (I used a Roma, skinned and seeds squeezed out)
  • 1 small carrot, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion (I omitted)
  • 1/2-1 jalapeño chile(I only had a half)
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
  • 3 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
  • 1 tsp. chopped fresh oregano leaves (I used a heaping 1/4 tsp. dried)
  • 1/2 tsp. chipotle chile powder
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cumin
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • more water if needed

To garnish:

  • more chopped fresh cilantro
  • black beans (I like the canned kind by Goya. They are better than a lot of brands. Leave out if you want it to be raw)

To make filling, use a blender or hand blender to blend everything together until smooth. Easy!

For filling, put it all in your food processor or blender and blend it. Not tooooo much, though. You don’t want to liquify it. Leave some chunks. If you need to add water, which I didn’t, add it in tiny increments.

Take the radish (or rutabaga or whatever you used) out of the water and lay on paper towels to dry thoroughly. Then, fill ‘er up!

(Image via iStock)

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