We love tacos - traditional, fusion, and everything in between. I often joke that there is nothing I won’t stuff into a tortilla and call it a taco. So, when the Taco Cleanse cookbook came out, it took a lot of restraint to not buy a copy right away and taco myself into oblivion. I held out as long as I could and then I caved. (I lasted about a week, y'all.) I’m glad I caved, though. Really glad. First off, I like the way the book is laid out. It mainly features components that you can mix and match, which is great for people who like to experiment, but also gives recipes for several completed tacos – some using those components, and some complete and separate recipes including dessert and breakfast tacos (I know!) and even a section of drinks. It’s also quite cleverly written, using the language often found in actual cleanses to extol the many benefits of tacos, and there is some cute material in the back of the book, like taco yoga, complete with mudras, to enhance your taco cleanse experience. There’s a sample of the book, including recipes, available on Google Books, but y’all, don’t be cheap - go buy a copy and support vegan chefs and authors, ok?
I am all about a tofu taco, so the first recipe we tried was the Iridescent Fried Tofu. We’ve done this one twice so far – once as our own variation of a Baja fish taco, and once as the full Infinite Fish Taco recipe in the book. The first time was the variation, which used my own vegan mayo-based slaw recipe (which isn’t really a recipe, but involves putting stuff in with the shredded cabbage until it tastes right), plus some fresh pico de gallo. They were really tasty and we were really blown away by the tofu, so our second go-round was the full-on Infinite Fish Tacos recipe. (Yes, we’ve had the book for a few weeks and have already repeated a dish. This is how you know you have a winner.) The full taco was way better than my variation. The recipes for the components are not difficult, but you do need to dip and bread the tofu triangles, so there are some steps involved. No biggie. We used regular breadcrumbs instead of panko the first time and the panko the second time. Both were great and I’m not sure if we prefer one over the other, which is handy in case we want to make these and are out of one kind or the other. The fillets don’t taste overly fishy, but have a little bit of kelp powder in the breading mix, so you get some of that flavor in there. The slaw is bright and flavorful and uses orange juice, so it’s a tiny bit citrusy, but it doesn’t overwhelm the dish. (Note - only make as much slaw as you will use at one time, it doesn't keep well. My leftover slaw got really bitter after and I couldn't eat it.) The tartar sauce was also super easy. I added a tiny bit of pickle juice and the brine from the capers to give it a little more oomph, but that was really just preference. Now, the tofu is fried, which I love. But if you don’t roll that way, I imagine you could spray it with a little oil and bake the triangles instead. I haven’t tried it, but it would probably still be really good. Also, this one would be really easy to make gluten-free if you used GF breadcrumbs and flour, and corn tortillas.
Sticking with my tofu taco theme, the second recipe we tried out was the Blue Corn-Chip Crusted Tofu. This one is baked instead of fried. It’s also an easy one to put together, and we just served it up with as pretty standard tacos – lettuce, tomato, and salsa. We both really liked this recipe too. It’s pretty simple, but very tasty. We made the Affirmation Cumin-Onion Rice as a side dish. It was also really good, and if you need a go-to rice for your taco dinners, I recommend this one. We had some I leftover tofu, which I put in salads for lunches later in the week and it held up really well. This is another one that will end up in regular rotation. There’s also a chipotle sauce recipe shown with this tofu, which looks really good too, so I’ll be giving that one a go soon, too.
Next up was the Comforting Seitan Guisada. The book describes guisada as a mild stew. The only thing I like in tacos as much as tofu is seitan, so we went for it. I’m a make-my-own kind of girl when it comes to seitan. Even though I already had some made and in the freezer (I always make a double batch and freeze it, so it’s readily available whenever I want some, which is always), I went ahead and made the Revitalizing Taco Seitan recommended in the recipe. This seitan is baked rather than simmered or steamed. I’ve used this method once or twice before, and while the results are good, just be aware that it always turns out slightly less dense than other methods. The stew was really easy to make, and we loaded it up in flour tortillas with some salsa. I have to say, this was not our favorite thing in a taco. It was a little bland as a filling, but really tasty served up over the Cumin-Onion Rice with some hot salsa and chopped lettuce. I really like the stew, but as I said, maybe not so much in a taco. Since this recipe only used half of the taco seitan I’d made, I froze the other half we turned it into some fajitas out of the rest of it the following week, and it was really delicious in those.
We’ll keep exploring this book and will post some updates on our favorites, but I can say with certainty that if you like tacos (who doesn’t?) this is a book you want in your collection. Oh – and one fun thing that came from buying this one, other than all the delicious tacos, is that we decided to have a taco pot-luck party. We’ll make a couple of fillings (definitely the Infinite Fish Tacos!) and as everyone else to bring more fillings, sides, tortillas, and whatnot. Vegan tacos for everyone!