The above plate cost about $4.00.
Mexican food on the East coast is more complicated, somehow unbalanced and consequently less satisfying. What I appreciated most about West coast food was its straightforwardness. A taco: two tortillas, rice, refried beans, pico, lettuce and guacamole. (Even more straightforward was Best Fish Taco in Ensenada: two fried shrimp folded in a single tortilla, wrapped in foil.) I, however, am unable to exercise such restraint. What follows is one of many attempts to recapture the flavors we were introduced to in January. I added a number of vegetables because summer has ended and we’re facing the prospect of a long winter with no greens.
Zucchini, Mushroom and Potato Tacos
1 can black beans
2 bay leaves
1 tsp cumin
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp sweet/smoked hungarian paprika
few solid shakes of black pepper
1 medium zucchini, cubed
8 - 10 mushrooms, roughly chopped (I used cremini from the market, but substitute as you like)
5 - 10 small, heirloom potatoes such as fingerlings, cubed
1/2 c broccoli florets (optional)
1 medium chili pepper, like Anaheim, diced
1 dried hot chili, like serrano, diced as small as you can get it (or sub red pepper flakes)
Juice of one lime, freshly squeezed
Place black beans and bay leaves in a sauce pan over medium heat with a little water. Add cumin, chili powder, paprika and pepper. Sprinkle some cayenne if you like. Stir occasionally. (Watch to make sure they don’t stick, and add water as needed or they’ll wind up almost refried.) Cook for about 10 - 15 minutes, then turn off heat and allow the beans to sit and develop their flavor.
Dice and boil potatoes in a medium pot until tender.
Pour a fair amount of oil in a large skillet. Saute mushrooms and broccoli, if using, for about two minutes. Add zucchini and chopped chili and stir. Saute for another few minutes until zucchini begins to become tender and everything is fragrant. Drain and add potatoes. Squeeze in the juice of the lime and stir. Add the dried chili, or chili flakes. Using a wooden spoon or spatula, mash about half to three-quarters of the potatoes in the pan. Stir everything really well and allow to cook together for about ten minutes.
Heat tortillas in a medium-sized skillet, flipping twice, until flexible. Fill with beans and vegetable filling. Top with chopped cucumbers, avocado and/or tomatillo salsa (recipe to come), and serve.