It may sound bizarre if you’ve never tried it, but my favorite ingredient for creating a meaty taco-like filling is actually cauliflower. By pulverizing a head of cauliflower in a food processor into small bits, and then sautéing it with some spices, shallots, beans, and corn, you have a super-delicious filling that has both the flavor and texture of taco filling.
But the fun doesn’t stop there, because then we’re going to roll this filling into corn tortillas and bake them into taquitos! To be honest, I was shocked at how easy it is to make taquitos. I had horrible images of broken tortillas cracking and unraveling into a mess, but if you follow the process below, it’s incredibly easy to roll the tortillas. And once they bake, they set into their shape for the perfect crispy snacks:
Makes 8 taquitos
- 1/2 head cauliflower
- 15 oz can black beans
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 shallots
- 1 cup corn kernels
- 1 small chili (optional)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 tablespoons chili powder blend
- 8 small corn tortillas
- 3-4 sprigs cilantro
- lettuce, for serving
- Blended raw cashews (garnish)
In a food processor combine about half of a large head of cauliflower, broken into bits, along with 1 15 oz can of black beans and pulse 10-15 times until you have small, uniform “grains” of cauliflower and beans. Set this aside for a moment.
In a large skillet, heat a tablespoon of olive oil and throw in two minced shallots. Allow these to caramelize for about 5 minutes over medium heat. Then, pour in the cauliflower/bean mixture along with a cup of (fresh or frozen) corn kernels and an optional minced chili pepper (jalapeño, anaheim, etc.). Also, begin adding spices. Start with the amounts listed and then use your own taste as a guide for increasing the amounts. Give this about 15 minutes to simmer and reduce into a tasty taco filling, stirring occasionally.
Before finishing, be sure to taste and adjust the spices to your preference. If it’s too bitter, a bit more salt will help. Too bland, more chili powder or smoked paprika.
Preheat the oven to 325º F
Filling and rolling the tortillas into taquitos is surprisingly easy and fool-proof if you do it correctly. The secret is to warm each tortilla in the microwave for 15 seconds. This will soften the tortilla until it’s as bendable as paper. Then add a few tablespoons of filling lengthwise and roll as tightly as possible. Place seam-side down on a baking sheet and repeat with the other 7. I recommend warming each tortilla individually because they cool/stiffen too quickly and will be more likely to crack.
With all 8 tortillas on the baking sheet, pop them in a 325º oven for about 20 minutes. This is where the magic happens: the filling firms up while the tortillas harden so they don’t unravel when serving. When the outside of the tortillas feel crispy and are slightly more brown, remove from the oven and allow to cool before serving on a bed of lettuce, garnished with cilantro, salsa, guacamole, and/or some cashews that have been pulverized in a blender for a cheese-like topping. They also make excellent leftovers if wrapped in foil and stored in the fridge for up to two days.