Tacos 101

picture of tacos

Tacos are always in the weekly rotation at K2.0. Start with a great homemade, charred tortilla. (Okay, I agree, it’s too charred here, but I’ve always liked burnt toast too.) Crisp cabbage, sautéed halibut, cubed mango, a little white onion, green pepper, and spicy, pickled onions for the zing factor.

There are so many ways to vary the toppings on a taco. We go with the same formula every time, but switch up the variations.

Tortilla – Protein – Toppings – Sauce/Salsa

Make your own tortillas

Tortillas are the foundation of a good taco. Flour tortillas used to be the favorite when our kids were still living at home, but we’ve moved on from white flour, and we’re so glad we did! Corn tortillas have so much more flavor. They contribute to the taste of the whole dish, instead of just being a homogenized place holder for the fillings. There are as many kinds of tortillas as there are corn varieties, but the traditional tortillas are made from masa harina, which is the Spanish word for dough flour. We like Bob’s Red Mill Organic Masa. We’ve always used their recipe for our tortillas, but we cut it back because there’s usually just the two of us on Tuesday nights.

  • 1C organic, high quality masa
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 3/4C lukewarm water
masa, bowl, tortilla press

We combine the masa and salt together first, and then add the water a little bit at a time, because the masa absorbs the water better that way. Knead it until the dough just comes together, and then let it sit for about 30 minutes, covered with a damp dishcloth so it doesn’t dry out.

masa cut into 8 pieces

After resting, cut the masa ball into 8-10 pieces with a pastry bench. Roll into balls. Place one ball at a time between two squares of parchment, and flatten between the plates of a tortilla press. (We tried this with just a rolling pin, but it makes life so much easier to use a press.)

tortilla on griddle

Peel off top parchment square, place on dry, pre-heated (medium-low) griddle, and then slowly peel off the other square. Leave for 1 minute, flip, leave for another minute.

cooked tortillas in kitchen towel

Wrap tortillas in a dry, clean dish towel to keep them warm. Just before plating your meal, place the tortilla on top of the gas burner grate of your stove and char them just a bit for extra flavor.

tortilla pieces with cabbage and mango

(My husband loves an appetizer before dinner …)

Proteins for tacos

VIRTUALLY ANYTHING! Seriously. Fish, pork, poultry, ground meats, beef, and vegetarian options round out the short list. Last night was sautéed halibut, but the sky’s the limit for proteins! Skirt steak, beef and bean, ground beef, turkey, carnitas, shrimp, catfish, mushroom, duck, crab, shredded beef, egg, raw tuna, salmon, lobster, bbq, anything! Use your favorites, prepare them well, and top with fillings that correspond to the spices and flavors of the protein.

Toppings for tacos

No limits! Purple or green cabbage, lettuce, shredded carrots, cucumbers, onions, pickled onions, scallions, shallots, bell peppers, hot peppers, olives, tomatoes, cilantro, avocado, guacamole, grilled corn, charred tomatillos, mango, pineapple, pico de gallo, homemade salsas, black beans … Anything goes. We usually don’t add cheese, only because of the sodium factor, but if you can’t live without a little cheese on your tacos, shred your own, and use it sparingly. We always make a nonfat plain yogurt topping to cool the palate from the spicy peppers we use. Stir in anything from freshly squeezed lime juice or espresso (amazing on beef tacos) or a shot of tequila!

plated tacos

Make tonight a taco night!

And don’t forget the avocado! It’s National Avocado Day!


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