- Prep Time 20 minutes
- Cook Time 35-40 minutes
- Estimated Cost $12.75
- 143 Comments
I have always felt like there is not nearly enough focus on the art of cleaning as you cook in recipes (though, ahem, there is a whole section on how to do it in Hot Mess Kitchen). Once it becomes second nature to compost your vegetable scraps as soon as you finish prepping your veg, to wash your bowls and whisks and cutting boards as soon as you're done with them, and perhaps, most importantly, to wipe down your work area after every little splatter, cooking becomes more joyful than you knew possible. This is extra-important in small kitchens (like mine), where you have very little surface area on which to spread your mess, but it'll make any kitchen experience more pleasurable.
And, there's another way to think about minimizing mess and post-cooking clean-up time, and it's become a new priority for me, now that Evan and I have finally convinced our baby that it's cool to go to sleep at 6:30 PM (and stay asleep until the next morning!!!!!! usually!!!!!!): cooking delicious meals with minimal clean-up so we can get to the business of enjoying our precious few hours of baby-free relaxation at night as quickly as possible. Basically, the math goes: the fewer pans I use, the less time we Evan spends washing up = the faster we are laying in bed, watching The Great British Baking Show (we're still working our way through the early seasons -- Mary Berry's gentle criticism + nice English people fretting over "biscuits" and "sponge" relaxes me better than a double martini).
And so, thanks to some beautiful organic carrots that showed up in our Imperfect Produce box last week, this minimal-cleanup vegetarian taco recipe (which I fully admit is not remotely authentic) has become a regular rotation in the 8-ish days since I first made it. After cooking it, you'll only have a baking sheet, a cutting board, a knife and a little bowl to wash, plus it's a great example of how to do right by vegetables by making them the star of a dish rather than forcing them to play backup singer to of a hunk of meat.
The transformation of flavor that happens when you roast root vegetables in olive oil with nothing more than salt and pepper provides the basis of the whole dish's flavor profile. These near-charred bits of carrot and onion are a little smoky (you could totally amp the smoke factor up and add smoked paprika or use salt instead of regular, if you wanted).
Once the carrots and onion are roasted, the whole thing comes together quickly and easily. I toss the veggies with a simple lime-oil dressing to amp up their flavor, and also to provide moisture. Then I top hot tortillas (try the soft, flexible corn-wheat blend ones from La Tortilla Factory or Trader Joe's, otherwise regular corn or even small wheat tortillas will work) with the dressed, roasted veg, plus crumbled, creamy feta (goat cheese would be good too, or even avocado, for a vegan version, but I like the way feta's tang plays with the sweet carrots), a shower of fresh herbs and scallions, a few chilies and some crunchy pepitas, if you have some. The tacos are pretty light, so some pinto beans or a big crunchy salad both work well as serve-alongs. Or, just eat three or four tacos and call one of them your side dish.
OH! And if you don't have carrots,, but you DO have a butternut squash, you can not only sub diced butternut squash for the carrots, you can also roast the butternut squash seeds (here's how to do it)! Commercial pumpkin seeds are good, but I'd argue that homemade butternut squash seeds are THE BEST SEEDS EVER. They have a buttery, subtle flavor and a light crunch. I happened to have a bowl of them from a squash I used to make Naptime Soup earlier in the week, so that's what I used on this particular batch of tacos.
I like to assemble the tacos in advance, and bring them out to the table fully topped for people to grab and eat, but if you want to serve the tortillas, filling, and toppings buffet-style, that works too (even if everything cools down--the tacos are surprisingly good at room temperature, or even cold, if you are lucky enough to have leftovers) (you won't).
- 6 large carrots, ends trimmed, peeled, and cut into 1-inch chunks $2
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced $0.50
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided Pantry
- salt and pepper Pantry
- 6 corn tortillas (I love the soft corn-wheat blend ones from La Tortilla Fatory or Trader Joe's) $3
- juice of 1 lime $0.50
- 1 clove garlic, minced Pantry
- 4 ounces feta, crumbled $3.50
- 1 large handful mint, chopped $1 for a bunch
- 1 large handful cilantro, chopped $1 for a bunch
- 2 scallions (green and white parts), chopped $1 for a bunch
- a few thin slices of jalapeño $0.25 for a whole pepper
- handful of toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds) optional
Recipe Serves 2-3
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
- Toss the carrots and onions with 2 tablespoons of the oil and salt and pepper to taste, and spread on a rimmed baking sheet.
- Roast for 35-40 minutes, stirring about half-way through.
- While the vegetables roast, wrap the tortillas in a sheet of foil. When the vegetables have about 20 minutes of cooking time left, put the tortillas on a separate rack in the oven.
- Whisk together the remaining olive oil, lime juice, garlic, and salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
- Take the vegetables and the tortillas out of the oven.
- Drizzle the vegetables with the lime-oil mixture right on the baking sheet and toss well.
- To assemble the tacos, arrange the tortillas on a platter (be careful opening the foil packet--it'll be hot), and top each one with 1/6 of the carrots, feta, herbs, scallions, and chilies.
- Serve immediately.