Recipe: Bean and Pepper Tacos

This is one of my standbys when I’m tired and feeling unimaginative.  It was especially fabulous when I gave up meat for Lent this year, and promptly regretted it because I couldn’t cope with long work days and then being imaginative in the kitchen in the evening.  These tacos are fast, nutritious, and very comforting.  They are also vegan or vegetarian, depending on your cheesy preferences, gluten-free if you use corn taco shells (and you should!) , and has a fairly low Glycemic Index.  What’s not to like?  Of course, I should probably mention that I’m typing this recipe right now because even though this is really easy, I still can’t face cooking just yet!  It’s that sort of night…

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olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 1/2 tsp cumin, approx
1/2 tsp oregano, approx
chilli powder and paprika to taste
2 tins of black beans or red kidney beans (or one of each)
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 chipotle chilli in adobo, or more if you like, finely chopped.  Beware – they are quite fiery!  If you can’t get chipotle in adobo, use whatever sort of chilli in whatever quantity you would normally add to a 4 person serving of chilli.
2 brown onions, sliced
1/2 tsp cumin
4-5 assorted peppers or those big Italian sweet chillis, sliced into thin strips
1 fresh chilli, finely chopped, or more, to taste
12-16 taco shells (the stand-and-stuff ones are easiest to use)
grated cheese and guacamole or puréed avocado, to serve

Now what will you do with it?

Heat a little olive oil in a saucepan, and add the garlic, oregano and dried spices.  Stir until you can just smell them, then drain the beans and add.  Stir around to coat the beans, then mash them roughly with a potato masher or fork, and add the tomatoes, chipotle and its sauce.  Mash a bit more, bring to a boil, and then let simmer gently while you prepare the rest.  You want your beans to get nice and thick.

Heat a bit more oil in a large skillet, and start to sautée your onions and cumin.  Chop the chilli and the capsicums while the onion is cooking, and add them as they are ready.  Stir the whole lot around, and lower the heat a bit – you are aiming to cook them until they are soft.

Heat your taco shells (depending on how fast you are at chopping, you might want to do this before starting the peppers).  Fill each with a bit spoonful of the beans and one of the capsicums and top with avocado and cheese.  Actually, I like sandwiching the cheese between the beans and the capsicums, but I suspect this is even more inauthentic than the rest of this meal.

Serves 4.


Eep, I’m not good that familiar with Mexican cuisine, so I don’t know!  Also, this is a pretty allergy-friendly recipe, so it doesn’t need much structural fiddling.  Any kind of chilli would work to replace the bean mixture, I would think, so you could try the white bean and garlic chilli I wrote about a while back if you don’t do tomatoes.  Though then that’s an awful lot of capsicum for one recipe, so you’d probably want to put something else on top – I have a vague notion that things like lettuce, sweet corn and grated carrot can be put on top of chilli tacos, though that sounds a bit odd to me.  Or go with a meaty, chocolatey, sweet-spiced mole filling under your capsicums, perhaps.  I’ll post my recipe for that one of these days… You could have a lot of fun with toppings, I’d think.  Salsas, or sour cream, or spiced nuts, maybe?   And of course you can just take the fillings and serve them with baked sweet or standard potatoes, or corn chips, or even over rice, if you are feeling vaguely masochistic and self-punitive.  Sounds like a waste of perfectly good comfort food to me, but then, I don’t really like rice.  Have at it!

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6 comments for “Recipe: Bean and Pepper Tacos

  1. 5-tails
    August 27, 2011 at 3:58 pm

    Heh. I hadn’t actually heard of chipotles before we moved, so I’m entertained to see them turn up in your recipe!

    As a household that isn’t too keen on capsicums, though, I think 4-5 of the things is a few too many for us! What are your thoughts on substitutions for those, out of curiosity? (I have some ideas, but not having made this myself I’d love your informed opinion…)

  2. August 27, 2011 at 5:27 pm

    Hmm, not sure. It’s definitely a sautéed summer vegetable sort of thing. Zucchini or pattypan squash, and cherry tomatoes maybe? Might be a little watery, though. Sweet potato goes well flavour-wise, but I think it would be too heavy with the beans and tacos. What did you have in mind?

    • 5-tails
      August 30, 2011 at 12:24 pm

      Zucchini was my first thought, actually. I wondered briefly about mushrooms and/or green beans, but wasn’t entirely convinced by either.

      I think you’re right about the tomatoes, but they could cook down in time…

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