Tacos! (Meat optional)

There once was a girl at a taco joint eating an amazing fried avocado taco…

Or at least that might be how the story begins for what ended up as dinner tonight.

One thing to know about me is that if something gets stuck in my mind – such as fried avocados, I will generally try to find a way to make it.

So after another round of Pinterest searching (only slightly sidetracked by salsa), I realized bake the avocado!!! Oh and make some salsa and some pico de gallo and some beans.  One must follow their instincts wherever it takes them…

The salsa was the beginning. I was inspired by a salsa roja found at One Particular Kitchen.  My version ended up as follows:

  • 10 Roma tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 medium yellow onion
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 Poblano pepper
  • 1 bunch of cilantro
  • Dash of salt
  • 1/4 lime

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

First halve the tomatoes and place cut side up on a parchment lined cookie sheet.  Then quarter the onion (enjoy a good cry) and place cut side up amongst the tomatoes on the cookie sheet. Next quarter the Poblano pepper lengthwise and this is where the heat level gets determined – either remove the seeds from the pepper (mild salsa) or leave them (get some heat).  Place 3/4 of the pepper amongst the tomatoes and onions because they like having neighbors! Last peel 4 garlic cloves and add them to the cookie sheet party. 

Bake in the oven about 20-30 minutes (looking for a nice char starting on the onion/pepper and browning on the garlic). Let cool slightly (until you’re comfortable picking up the tomato with your fingers.  

Place all the roasted goodness in a food processor along with the cilantro, squeeze the juice from 1/4 of a lime and a dash of salt.  Pulse until combined and salsa looking – try to refrain from eating straight from the food processor (I will admit this will be hard especially if one has a fresh bag of tortilla chips nearby)!

Next up came the pico de gallo!  Truthfully, I used the recipe I found from Behind the Food Carts.  Only item changed was using the remaining 1/4 of the Poblano instead of jalapeño. 

Put it in the fridge and started the beans because I had a can of pinto beans and a pot just looking for them!

The “refried” beans:

  • 1 clove of garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1-2 T grapeseed oil
  • 1 can pinto beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder (I use Gebhardt)
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika 
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Couple splashes of milk

Place the onion, garlic and grapeseed oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Once the onions are translucent and garlic fragrant but not brown (or kinda brown but not totally fried like mine was since I was cutting up avocado and ignoring the pan), add the drained beans and chicken stock.  Let it simmer/boil (do its thing).  After about half of the stock has reduced, take a potato masher and take out whatever aggression you have pent up on those beans!  Add the spices and a splash of milk – stir to combine and ignore again for about 10 minutes (or in my case 15 – I’m a little neglectful that way).  If you find yourself in the same boat and the beans are looking a bit dried out – add another splash of milk and stir then remember to reduce the heat to low before walking away. After another 10 minutes turn the heat off (your baked avocado will almost be done if you’re multitasking so the residual heat will keep the beans warm).

Now the actual thing I wanted to make – crunchy avocado goodness!!! Why did I make all the other items? Because I wanted a taco and needed toppings…sure that’s it…

  • 1 large avocado
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 cup panko crumbs

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

So this is where I’m not good at picking avocados. Mine were still a little hard so I ended up using a vegetable peeler to remove the skin, then I halved them and removed the pit.  I was able to kind of slice one half lengthwise to make the pretty fry look.  However, I was impatient (heck I made three other things and still no crunch) and had dry beans thus the second half of the avocado was sliced up horizontally – not pretty but still good and faster.

Set up three bowls for dredging. In the first, mix the flour, salt, pepper, chili powder and buttermilk in a bowl.  In the second beat the egg. The third put the panko crumbs.

Get prepared to get dirty! Take the avocado slices and dredge through the buttermilk batter, then the egg and finally panko.  Place onto a parchment lined cookie sheet.  Repeat until each avocado piece is covered.  At this point you’ll need some serious water and soap to get the batter off your fingers. Once your hand/hands (if you’re like me somehow both hands had batter on them) is/are usable again, place in the oven for 15 minutes.  Then flip the pan around and bake for 5 more minutes (panko should be golden).

So during the time I started all of this and mainly due to the roasted salsa veggie smell wafting through the house, my test subject got crafty and smoked a small steak for about 15 minutes.  Thought process was that not having meat in the taco would make them less filling. Then let the steak rest for 5 minutes and slice into thin pieces.  Silly test subject!

Once the avocados were done, I pulled out the pico de gallo and a package of mexican shredded cheese. The salsa had never left the counter because some people, who I shall not name, may have been eating chips and salsa to stave off tummy rumblings). Lastly, some flour tortillas just made at the store today.

Then the magic happened as the girl from the taco joint began layering the homemade fillings – tortilla, layer of beans, cheese, baked avocado, slices of steak, pico, and salsa…there was silence that fell upon the house.  

Not a single word said. Just munching and maybe a softly audible “mmm” followed by seconds (where the girl left off the steak and it was still worthy of a food coma).  My test subject never said a word until two platefuls were finished; then all I heard was “wow we may have overdone it” before said test subject slipped away into a mandatory nap – high praise indeed from him!

The end!!!

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