Meatless Monday: Potato and Corn Tacos
I was in Cancun on vacation last week and you'd think that after a week of tacos, quesadillas, tamales, enchiladas and margaritas I'd be sick of Mexican food, but I'm not. Instead, I'm craving more. Mexican is the one cuisine I never tire of -- maybe that's because Mexican dishes are so easy to make meatless? Rice and beans are a staple, of course (if you're at a restaurant, make sure you ask for vegetarian beans, sometimes they're made with animal fats) but you can substitute the meat in almost any dish for vegetables. My favorites are enchiladas stuffed with spinach or mushrooms, fajitas made with sauteed or grilled vegetables, or tacos (I prefer soft) made with just about any vegetable.
Mark Bittman's meatless tacos are filled with a creamy mixture of potatoes, corn and poblano peppers. They're filling (so your meat-loving friends won't complain) and ready in 30 minutes (so ideal for weeknight cooking). Serve them with Spicy Black Beans and Yellow Rice, or just heat up a can of (vegetarian) refried beans and open up a bag of chips and your favorite salsa for the perfect Meatless Monday meal.
Over a flame, in a broiler, on a grill or in a cast iron skillet on high heat, char skins of chiles until completely black on all sides. Put in a paper or plastic bag to steam for 15 minutes. Remove, then peel or rinse away skin; remove seeds and veins and slice into 1/2-inch-wide by 2-inch-long strips.
In a large skillet over medium heat, heat lard or oil and cook onions, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 10 minutes, or until translucent and tender. Add chile strips and salt, and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, another 3 to 4 minutes.
Add potatoes and corn, and continue cooking for a few minutes, until potatoes are heated through. Check seasonings. If you are using crema, stir in at the last minute or so of cooking. Place in warm tortillas and add condiments as you wish.
Any vegetarian will tell you that the #1 question they're asked is "How do you get enough protein?" Meat eaters are quite concerned that those of us who aren't gnawing on chicken legs all day are going to waste away. A balanced diet that includes plenty of grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds and dairy goes a long way in ensuring that vegetarians are getting what they need, but those following a plant-based diet do need to make sure they're getting enough calcium, vitamin D, iron and zinc. Find out how to get the right amounts of these nutrients in this article on Food Network's Healthy Eats site.