Like pizza, hamburgers and hot dogs, tacos are quintessential family-friendly meals.

Kids in the U.S. have been piling ground beef, aggressively flavored by a packet of unidentifiable seasonings, into crunchy taco shells since food companies figured out how to make it easy by putting all the elements of the meal into one box (minus the hamburger). Foolproof for Mom and Dad and popular with the kids — who could ask for anything more?

Giving up that packet of seasonings, though, is a form of culinary freedom. Without the packet, our tacos are free to taste like anything we can conjure and our pantries produce.

The recent Korean taco fusion fad led the way to all kinds of interesting filling combinations. Everything from sushi-inspired spicy tuna tacos to teriyaki chicken tacos has been showing up on restaurant menus for years.

While not every taco is worthy, the trend has certainly taught us what much of the Latin world has known forever: Almost anything tastes good wrapped in a warm corn tortilla.

With that in mind, I usually find a way to wrap something in a warm tortilla at least once a week. While that “something” often involves meat, recently I’ve become enamored of meatless tacos. Living in a house full of meat-loving men, selling a meatless meal of any sort can be a challenge. I’ve found that the tortilla can help overcome that challenge, especially if it contains a variety of flavors and textures.

One of my favorite meat-free taco combinations is mushroom and poblano chile. The mushrooms are sautéed until well-browned, which gives them a chewy meatiness. Diced onions and poblano chiles are added to the pan, along with crushed tomatoes and chipotle peppers.

Spooned into a corn tortilla and topped with a drizzle of cooling Mexican crema or sour cream, fresh cilantro, a sprinkling of toasted pepitas (Spanish for pumpkin seeds), a squeeze of fresh lime and you have a perfect dish, ready to eat.

It’s so quick and easy to make this taco that you won’t even miss the seasoning packet, nor will your family.

Mushroom and Poblano Tacos

Serves 6.

Note: Sautéed mushrooms, combined with poblano chiles in a smoky chipotle sauce, make a satisfying meat-free filling for these addictive tacos. From Meredith Deeds.

• 2 tbsp. olive oil

• 8 oz. cremini mushrooms, cleaned and quartered

• 1 medium onion, finely diced

• 2 poblano chiles, seeded and diced

• 2 garlic cloves, minced

• 1/2 c. canned crushed tomatoes (preferably fire-roasted)

• 1 chipotle chile in adobo sauce (from can), minced

• 1/2 tsp. salt

• 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

• 12 corn tortillas, warmed

• 1/2 c. crumbled Cotija or feta cheese

• 1/4 c. sour cream or Mexican crema

• 1/4 c. fresh cilantro

• 3 tbsp. toasted pepitas (green pumpkin seeds)

• Lime wedges


Heat oil in a 12-inch stainless-steel skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes, or until the mushrooms have browned. Add onions and poblanos, and continue to cook, tossing and stirring occasionally until softened, about 6 minutes.

Add garlic and cook, stirring constantly until fragrant, about 1 minute longer. Add the tomatoes, chipotle chile, salt and pepper. Continue to cook, stirring, for a minute.

Serve immediately with warm tortillas, cheese, sour cream, cilantro, pepitas and lime wedges.

Nutrition information per serving:

Calories 260 Fat 13 g Sodium 530 mg

Carbohydrates 29 g Saturated fat 4 g Total sugars 4 g

Protein 8 g Cholesterol 15 mg Dietary fiber 4 g

Exchanges per serving: 1 ½ starch, ½ carb, ½ high-fat protein, 2 fat.


Meredith Deeds is a cookbook author and food writer from Edina. Reach her at Follow her on Twitter ­at @meredithdeeds.