For many of us who live far from the border with Mexico, our introduction to tacos involved a box from the supermarket. The crunchy taco shells and the convenient packet of spices made taco night easy for busy families.
American taco cuisine has grown and matured, and your local Mexican restaurant undoubtedly has a full range of flavors for this quintessential dish. But the exciting flavors all seem to be in the carne asada and chicken tinga taco direction, while the meatless variation — usually beans — is pretty plain.
That's why you need to make your own. These tacos are far from authentic. They are a meatless riff on the ones that get all the attention. Black bean tacos are great, but these Mushroom -Walnut Tacos give a spicy hit that you would find from mild chorizo, in this case paired with crispy fried potato cubes. Since you are making them yourself, you get to decide how spicy they are.
The food processor is a huge help for these tacos. You'll mince an onion, scrape it into the sauté pan, then mince the mushrooms, add to the pan and then grind walnuts, all in just a few minutes. The result is a ground beef-like texture, once the mushrooms cook down to concentrated bits. If you don't have a food processor, a sharp knife works, too.
When it comes to the tortillas, I urge you to seek out fresh, locally made corn tortillas. It's worth a trip to your local Mexican grocery for them, and while you're there, pick up some fun salsas.
The soft, unfried corn tortilla may be mystifying to those unfamiliar with them, especially if they dry and crack when they are folded. To make them flexible, warm them first, and only fill them right before eating. Of course, if you prefer fried shells or small flour tortillas, use those.
Robin Asbell is a cooking instructor and author of "Big Vegan," "The Whole Grain Promise" and "Great Bowls of Food." Find her at robinasbell.com.