Friday, 1 July 2011

Amazing romaine tacos! (raw)

Mexican is one of my favourite cuisines, I adore it, and when at its simplest, it is at its best. With fresh good quality ingredients and warming spice blends of cumin, coriander and chilli, it is comforting, tasty and takes me back down memory lane to sunny trips abroad.... We eat many Mexican inspired dishes at home; black beans cooked with smokey chipotle chillies, served with home made masa harina flour tortillas (wow that was a mouthful!) is always popular with the girls. We also love tacos, but making the tacos is time consuming so not great if you're in a rush.....

I have thought about making raw tacos for a while now, they always sound so appealing, but for whatever reason I get side tracked and it gets left on my (ever expanding) 'things to make' list. I am not sure if I'll ever catch up with that list, but it is always fun trying! 

Romaine (cos) lettuce is a great lettuce to use as a wrap, not only for its great shape which perfectly holds in the filling, but because it is an incredible nutrient rich lettuce. Among its many benefits, it is high in Vitamin C, folic acid, beta-carotene, and minerals as well as being a great source of fibre and protein. All of this makes it a great vegetable for heart health. If you use a lot of iceburg, switching to romaine is a simple way to boost the nutritional value of your salads!

In the past, I have used romaine to make all sorts of wraps, it works beautifully in place of bread with both raw and cooked fillings and is great simply filled with guacamole, bean sprouts or humous. It can also make an impressive raw taco when filled with a raw taco filling.
 This isn't a new idea, raw tacos have been around a looooong time so I cannot take the credit (unfortunately). This particular blend of ingredients depended totally on what I had available in my cupboards and wasn't particularly thought out, but I think it tastes really similar to the flavours in traditional tacos, the possibilities for adapting this kind of filling are immense!

Anyways, I am so pleased with them, I am even going to make them again tomorrow, I don't think there is anything I'd change about them except possibly to use less sun-dried tomato. The spice mix and amounts used is totally adaptable to your own tastes (I like quite strong flavours) so have a play, you could also use another kind of nut such as cashew or brazil or even seeds. Below are the ingredients that I used, which is a great simple recipe and will make 2-4 good sized tacos depending on how generous you are with the filling! You could also use little gem lettuce to make mini tacos, cute idea for a dinner party starter! :)

Raw Tacos 
2-4 big romaine lettuce leafs
1 cup of walnuts
2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1/2 bell pepper
4 sun-dried tomatoes, re hydrated in water and drained
1/2 tsp dried or fresh oregano
big pinch or about 1/4 tsp ground turmeric
big pinch or about 1/4 tsp ground cumin
big pinch or about 1/4 tsp ground coriander
big pinch or about 1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper
big pinch Himalayan or unrefined sea salt

To garnish:
(About) 10 strands of arame, re hydrated in water and drained (optional)
1 Avocado, chopped
Salsa made from 2 fresh tomatoes, 1/4 onion and a tablespoon of lemon juice
Drizzle of extra virgin olive oil or hemp seed oil


Wash and spin dry some big leaves of romaine lettuce, set aside.
In a mini chopper, blitz all the ingredients together until it looks like a very rough pate. This forms your taco 'meat'.

Fill the lettuce with the taco 'meat' and garnish with salsa, avocado and arame and a drizzle of oil.