10 November 2014

Smoky Guacamole Tacos with Persimmon Salsa


How do I begin to explain my joy of tacos, something so part of me, such a fundamental element of the flavors of my childhood? If you're a long-time follower you already know that Mexican flavors are my ultimate comfort food. To enhance my enjoyment of them, I was lucky enough to have married a guy who loves them as much as I do. And these tacos are a simple and quick way to bring that enjoyment to our my table (and yours) any night of the week.

Avocados are given a quick mash-up with lime, chili, and cumin while black beans stew on the stove with garlic, cumin, and smoked paprika. The persimmon salsa is a fresh, zingy, sweet, and welcome counter to the smoky beans and guacamole. If persimmons are not in season or you can't find them, mango would be a perfect substitute. 

Corn tortillas are my preference when it comes to tacos. If you can believe it, there is a small Mexican store here called El Sabor that sells locally made corn tortillas. Though I don't love washing dishes and I don't love baking, I do oddly enough love making flatbreads, of any kind, especially when I can engage the help of a press. There's something very cathartic about the process for me, so I usually make my own corn tortillas with masa harina. But if I'm out of masa, you can find me at El Sabor. This being said, if corn tortillas are not accessible to you, flour tortillas or any sort of thin flatbread will work. 

*** ANNOUNCEMENT ***

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After almost 2 years of blogging the Whole Nourishment community has grown. This is entirely thanks to you, my readers. I am deeply grateful for your support, engagement, and authentic interest in the recipes I post and my approach to food, cooking, and wellness.

You will continue to find this same content front and center on my new website. Additionally, this new space has allowed me to physically and symbolically merge the blog and my love for whole, plant-based foods with my broader vision for Whole Nourishment, which is to apply its philosophy in my new Holistic Health Coaching practice to support and guide others in achieving health and wellness.

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Smoky Guacamole Tacos with Persimmon Salsa
Serves 4 (with leftovers) or 6 (without leftovers)

Notes: When I make tacos, I like to enjoy them for a few meals, so making extra filling allows for subsequent meals to come together quickly.

Stewed black beans (recipe below)
Smoky guacamole (recipe below)
Persimmon salsa (recipe below)
Corn tortillas (or other thin flatbread)
Couple handfuls toasted pumpkin seeds

Wrap tortillas in aluminum foil and warm in the oven or toast in a dry skillet. Serve wrapped in a dish towel so they stay warm and don't dry out.

To assemble, layer guacamole at the bottom, then black beans and persimmon salsa. Top with toasted pumpkin seeds.

Stewed Black Beans
3 cups (546 g or 2 15 oz. can) cooked black beans
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. smoked paprika
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup water

Rinse and drain beans if using canned. Add everything to a medium sauce pan over medium heat; cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally while preparing other components. Halfway through, use the back of a wooden spoon to mash half of beans to thicken the mixture slightly.  If there's too much liquid left at the end, simple simmer 3-5 minutes longer with the lid off.

Smoky Guacamole
2 ripe avocados
1 small red onion, minced (reserve half for salsa)*
Large handful cilantro + tender stems, chopped (reserve half for salsa)
1 small clove garlic, minced
3/4 tsp. ground cumin
Juice 1/2 lime
1/4 tsp. salt

Add all ingredients (making sure to reserve half of onion and cilantro for salsa) to a medium mixing bowl; mash everything together with a potato masher or a fork until desired consistency is reached. Taste and adjust for seasoning.

Persimmon Salsa
Notes: Substitute mango if persimmons are not in season.

2 firm but ripe Kaki (or Fuyu) persimmons
Reserved minced red onion
1 small red chili (or jalapeno), minced
Reserved chopped cilantro
Juice from 1/2 - 1 lime (depending on sweetness of persimmon)
Salt, to taste

Peel persimmons and dice. Add to a small mixing bowl with remaining ingredients. Stir to combine; taste and adjust seasoning with more chili, cilantro, and lime as needed, to balance sweetness.

*Red onions run on the small side here in Switzerland, so use what would be considered a large red onion if you live here. In the US, use a small red onion. 

03 November 2014

Roasted Pumpkin, Cilantro, and Persimmon Salad


A friend gave me a nice bottle of fresh, cold-pressed pumpkin seed oil recently, and I've been using it everywhere I can, topping soups and forming the base of salad dressings, like in this recipe. It's deep green color and nutty flavor is irresistible and using the oil is a very small but effective way  to celebrate Autumn and make any dish feel special.

This salad is the epitome of a fall salad. Firstly, the platter style makes it's perfect for dinner party or holiday meal spreads, both of which we all seem to have more of this time of year. (Although I have to admit, I made this salad just for the two of us and we finished off 2/3 of it in one sitting.) But secondly, and more importantly in my book, with this salad I am officially welcoming in the beginning of persimmon season!


Persimmons are a special fruit. I love their uniquely sweet, citrusy taste, which changes to a headier sweetness when cooked. For this salad I thinly slice and serve them raw, allowing the tangy dressing and floral notes of cilantro to accentuate the persimmon's subtle citrus flavor.

This is an understated salad, which I like. It doesn't look like much but there's depth and layers of flavor from the fresh crunchy celery, cilantro, and toasted pumpkin seeds hidden amongst the curly endive. I chose a roasted mini tiger striped pumpkin to top the salad because it is sold everywhere here and couldn't be easier or quicker to prep and cook (when sliced thinly). These minis or a delicata squash are your gateway winter veg of choice if you're the kind who thinks working with pumpkin is intimidating.

mini tiger striped pumpkin


Persimmon Primer
With their sweet, slightly citrusy flavor, some describe persimmons as a cross between an apricot and mango or an apricot dusted with cinnamon.

In the U.S. there are two main types of persimmons commercially sold; Hachiya and Fuyu. Hachiya must be fully soft to eat because it has high levels of tannins and tastes bitter and astringent in its firm, unripe state. The Fuyu variety can be eaten when firm or soft, and a firm Fuyu is what you want for this recipe.

Here in Switzerland, the Kaki persimmon (also known as the Japanese persimmon or in the US, the Asian persimmon) is most common. From my experience Kaki persimmons sold here can be eaten firm and are similar to Fuyu. The skin color ranges from light golden-orange to a rich coral (reddish-orange), and I look to buy the deeper coral color, especially when I plan to eat it firm. However, I have read that some Kaki varieties have higher tannin levels and must be fully soft to enjoy. If you are unsure, ask your grocer.



Roasted Pumpkin, Cilantro, and Persimmon Salad
Serves 4-6

1 mini Tiger Striped pumpkin
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 head curly endive (also known as frisee lettuce or endive frisee) 
2 handfuls pumpkin seeds, toasted
1 celery stalk, thinly sliced
Generous handful cilantro, chopped
1 ripe but firm Fuyu (or Kaki) persimmon
Tangy Pumpkin Seed Oil Dressing (recipe below)

Preheat oven to 425 F (218 C).

Halve pumpkin, discard seeds, and slice into thin wedges. Place on a lined baking sheet, drizzle with oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss so both sides of pumpkin are coated. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until just tender.

In the meantime, chop curly endive and place on a platter (a large plate or a large, wide-mouth shallow bowl also works). Add sliced celery, half of pumpkin seeds, half of cilantro, and half of dressing to platter and toss gently to combine. Peel persimmon, halve, and thinly slice lengthwise.

Layer persimmon and pumpkin over salad and sprinkle with remaining pumpkin seeds, cilantro and dressing.

Tangy Pumpkin Seed Oil Dressing
2 Tbsp. cold-pressed pumpkin seed oil
1 1/2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1 tsp. whole grain mustard
1 tsp. maple syrup
1/8 tsp. salt + freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Mix everything together in a small bowl, and set aside.

Substitutions

  • Any small striped pumpkin variety works well here. Or use a winter squash such as Delicata (my favorite because you can eat the skin), Acorn, Butternut, or even sweet potato will work. But whatever you use, roast with the skin on; it's less work for you and it makes a pretty presentation. Diners can remove the skin themselves.
  • Arugula, radicchio, watercress, romaine, or a combination can be used in place of curly endive
  • Extra-virgin olive oil or another cold-pressed nutty oil such as sesame or walnut can replace the pumpkin oil.