This taco, featured in Sara Deseran and Joe Hargrave's new cookbook of recipes from their San Francisco restaurants, Tacolicious, only goes to show how versatile and inspiring a waiting tortilla can be. Sure, you could fill it with braised pork or charred chicken, but it can be equally good piled with well-seasoned veggies. It seems the trick is to be thoughtful about the flavors, of course, and also the textures. There's only a few bites to a taco, and you get all the components in each one, so you don't want a messy jumble. What you do want is sweet squash and kale, creamy, tangy cashew crema, and toasty, spicy pumpkin seeds, each element distinct but harmonious. It's a vegan taco, but only incidentally.
Why I picked this recipe: It seemed so California, and a nice respite from all the meaty fillings in the book.
What worked: I loved the interplay of flavors and textures, and appreciated how healthful and nourishing it was.
What didn't: The instructions read to cook the squash a minute beyond the point of when it begins to soften. This left too much crunch for my taste. I understand they don't want it mushy—a little firmness should remain—but it just felt a tad undercooked. I also found the crema to be aggressively tangy.
Suggested tweaks: I would cook the squash until it is just soft throughout, then proceed with the recipe. I'd also dial back the lime juice in the crema to 1/4 cup, and add more to taste. And just to note: the recipe calls for chile powder, which is referring to ground dried chilies, not the seasoning mix labeled chili powder.
Thanks to our friends at Ten Speed Press, we have 5 copies of Tacolicious to give away this week.
Reprinted with permission from Tacolicious, by Sara Deseran and Joe Hargrave, copyright © 2014, published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Random House LLC.