This past week I’ve had lunch with two of my colleagues nearly everyday; sitting behind glass windows that overlooked the parking lot filled with rain puddles and people scurrying between buildings, clad in knee high wellies and wind proof umbrellas. My colleagues would tuck into lunches, looking absolutely drained, mumbling about how they missed summer and wondering when the rain would stop. While they both have been working busy days, filled with experiments that may or may not have failed, I felt that they had taken this transition of seasons quite hard. And with the chilling rain, it’s probably a difficult change for most.
I have welcomed fall with open arms as I love the cooler weather in my kitchen. Baking loaves of bread, simmering soups, and roasting potatoes were all things that I missed in what became my sweatshop during the summer. While I love all the sun ripened produce, practically dripping in their own honey, cooking dinner after work was something I rarely looked forward to during those months.
We ate salads, so many salads, and my form of afterwork meditation, baking, was to only be done either before dawn (I’m crazy, yeah…), or on the rare days that it didn’t break 80F. For me, it felt more like a chore than something I love.
But for those who are missing the sunshine, these bright flavored tacos are a great meal to look forward to in your lunch box, despite what you see outside. Peppery red onion, warmth from the red pepper flake, and lovely acid tones from the lime make this essential slaw piled on top of the earthy, cumin spiced beans and roasted sweet potato, what I hope, a welcomed dish for my colleagues.
Adapted from Joy the Baker
Serves 2 (We were HUNGRY!)
For the Potatoes:
1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into easily edible pieces
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 lime, juiced by hand
red pepper flake to taste (I used about half a tablespoon, but I LOVE heat)
salt to taste
For the Slaw:
2 cups purple cabbage, very finely sliced (about half a small head of cabbage…If you only have green on hand, you can use that)
Half cup of red onion, diced (we love red onion, so if you’re not much of a fan, try a quarter)
4 tablespoons of cilantro, chopped (um, we also love cilantro…start with 2 and taste in case you’re weary)
2 limes, juiced by hand
Red pepper flake to taste (I used about a tablespoon, but again, see above)
Salt to taste
For the Beans:
1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 medium onion, diced (about half a cup)
2 teaspoons of ground cumin (I love cumin, again, this is your recipe, taste as you go!)
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
Salt to taste
Corn tortillas (we used four)
Another tablespoon of olive oil to pan fry the tortillas in
A cookie sheet
Aluminum foil (optional) to cover your cookie sheet (if you’re lazy like me)
2 medium sized mixing bowls
2 sauté pans
A sharp knife
A plate lined with paper towels
Place your oven rack in the middle position in the oven. Preheat the oven to 425F. Toss the sweet potatoes with olive oil, red pepper flake, lime juice and salt. Place the potatoes onto the cookie sheet and bake until they’re fork tender. After about twenty minutes in the oven, remove the cookie sheet and move the potatoes around, ensuring that they bake evenly. Once the potatoes are fork tender, remove them from the oven and set aside.
After placing the potatoes in the oven, add the cabbage, red onion, cilantro, red pepper flakes, lime juice and salt to a medium bowl. Toss the ingredients together till combined. Set aside.
Pour the olive oil into your saute pan and place the pan over medium heat. When the oil starts to shimmer, add the onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about five to seven minutes, until the onion is golden brown. Add the ground cumin and cook until fragrant, about thirty seconds. Add the beans, stirring them into the onions and cumin, until incorporated. Cook the beans until they are warm. Add salt to taste. Set aside.
In your second saute pan, add a little oil, and place the pan over medium heat. When the oil starts to shimmer, add the tortilla, and cook for about a minute or two, on each side. The tortilla should be lightly browned on each side. Place tortillas on a plate lined with paper towels to remove excess oil.
Assemble your tacos, placing plenty of slaw on top. Remember, slaw is key.