Smoky Black Bean, Mushroom & BBQ Tempeh Tacos with Chickpea Tortillas.

First make the BBQ sauce! Rehydrate the dried chilis in warm/hot water for at least 20 minutes until soft.

Slice the tops off the fresh finger chilis and seed them.

Sear the scallions on the flame of a gas stove (if you have one), or broil in the oven, and do the same with the finger chili.

BBQ sauce + Black Bean dish ingredients (see full ingredient list below).

In a high powered blender, mix the sauce components together until smooth. TIP: Prep this sauce the day before making your tacos, so you don’t have too many tasks at once.

Crumble a block of defrosted organic GMO-free tempeh. I use Noble Bean brand, made in Montreal. Marinate the tempeh in 3-4 heaping tbsp of the BBQ sauce so that it’s well coated.

Wrap up the tempeh in tinfoil, bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes. Wrapping in foil directly saves cleaning a casserole dish, but it IS healthier to cook in glass as opposed to foil – to avoid excess exposure to aluminum.

Make the black bean dish! In a large pot with a little olive oil, sauté 1 diced red onion and 3 large cloves of minced garlic, cook until translecent. Season with salt, pepper, cumin, chili powder, smoked paprika, and tiny pinch of cinnamon. Stir until the spices become aromatic.

Add the cooked beans and tomato paste. Cover, and let simmer for 15 minutes.

Once the tomato paste has cooked out, add a few coriander stalks, and 1 tbsp of blackstrap molasses, for extra flavour, and sweetness. Cook the beans for another 10-15 minutes on low uncovered, allowing the flavours to meld and the residual liquid to evaporate – thickening the black beans. Once thickened, mash half of the beans with a fork, to form a creamier consistency. This helps the beans stay in the taco, and hold together with the other ingredients.

These black beans are delicious in tacos, burritos, topped on a veggie bowl, pureed into black bean dip, or used as a black bean soup base!

Dry toasting boosts the flavour and texture of pumpkin seeds, bringing out the nuttiness and making them crunchy.

For a little extra flavour, I seasoned the pumpkin seeds with salt, cumin, chili powder, habanero powder, smoked paprika, and cinnamon. Once lightly toasted, empty the seeds into a bowl and set aside to cool.

For the salsa: In a large bowl, combine 2 peeled/diced mangos, 1 diced red pepper and orange pepper, 3 seeded tomatoes, 2 chopped scallion tops, juice from one large lime, roughly chopped coriander, salt & cracked black pepper. Mix and set aside.

To make the quick-pickled cabbage: In a large bowl, add finely chopped red cabbage, fresh lime/lemon juice, and a big pinch of salt.

Caramelized red onions are a delicious edition to these tacos (and everything savoury!). Thinly slice a large red onion, and sauté with a little olive oil, salt & cracked black pepper on med-high heat. Let them cook for 2–3 minutes without stirring. One they are starting to take colour, stir the onions until they are sweet and sticky. Read in further detail how to cook caramelized onions here!

Make the chickpea tortillas by mixing 1-cup of chickpea flour (or more depending on how many you want to make) with 1-cup of water, and a big pinch of salt. (See previous post on chickpea flour HERE)

Whisk the mixture together and let it sit outside of the fridge for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, add a little olive oil to a frying pan on high heat.

Add a ladle of chickpea mixture to the pan, and let it bubble before flipping – like making pancakes!

Flip after a minute or so, allowing both sides to get slightly golden in colour.

Set aside, and cover with a close to ensure the tortillas stay moist, as they dry up quickly!

Lastly, saute or grill the mushrooms until golden, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.

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Taco ingredients ready to be assembled! (minus grilled mushrooms)

I also made some with classic corn tortillas…

Tacos taste better with friends!

These tacos are made from whole food, plant-based ingredients, offering a balance of fiber-rich complex carbs, protein, good fats, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants – for optimal nutrition, energy, and satiety. I provided two protein options, black beans and tempeh, which you can make one or both of, depending on your personal taste. Many of my clients are sensitive to soy, but typically handle tempeh well, seeing as it is a fermented whole food, rather than a processed (GMO) soy product. This versatile recipe creates enough food for multiple meals, and can be enjoyed for breakfast, lunch or dinner. The different components (smoky black beans, slaw, mango salsa, BBQ tempeh) can also be enjoyed in ‘taco bowl’ form (minus the tortillas), or as meal accompaniments. Preparing a big batch of these ready-to-eat dishes, you can easily mix and match the items, assembling quick and healthy meals to eat throughout the week!

BBQ Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 2 Dried Ancho pepper, rehydrated in water
  • 2 Dried Pasilla pepper, rehydrated in water
  • 2 Dried Guajillo pepper, rehydrated in water (these chilis can often be found at ‘ethnic markets’, Mexican grocery stores, and spice shops)
  • 2 finger chilies, lightly grilled/roasted (or another mildly hot fresh pepper you can find)
  • 4 scallions, lightly grilled/roasted until tender
  • 5 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup or honey
  • 3 tbsp Blackstrap molasses
  • Juice from one orange
  • 4 coriander stalks, chopped
  • Splash of Braggs or soy sauce
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • Pinch of smoked paprika
  • Pinch of cumin
  • Pinch of cinnamon
  • Pinch of chili powder (I used Habanero powder)
  • Salt & freshly cracked black pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. Blend all of the ingredients in a high powered blender or food processor.
  2. Heat the sauce in a pan over low heat for 10 minutes or so, to allow spices to cook out and let the flavors meld.

TIPS:
– Store-bought sauces are packed with added refined sugars, oils, and often other preservatives. Making your own from scratch is healthier and fresher tasting!
– Enjoy this as a marinade and/or sauce. It will last a week in the fridge, and can be kept in the freezer for future meals!

Smoky Black Beans

Ingredients:

  • 2 cans of black beans, with liquid
  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • Tomato paste, 1 tbsp
  • Blackstrap molasses, 2 tbsp
  • Cumin powder, 1 tsp
  • Chili powder, 1 tsp
  • Cinnamon, small pinch
  • Smoked paprika, small pinch
  • Fresh coriander stalks, 4 stalks chopped
  • Salt & freshly cracked black pepper

Instructions:

  1. In a pot, sauté the onions and garlic with a spray of olive oil.
  2. Once translecent, add the spices and keep stirring the mixture until the spices become aromatic.
  3. Add the cooked black beans, tomato paste, blackstrap molasses, and coriander stalks.
  4. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, and let it cook on low for 20 minutes, to allow the flavours to mix and the liquid to reduce.
  5. Turn off the heat, taste and adjust seasonings, let the mixture cool off slightly before serving in the tacos.

BBQ Tempeh 

Ingredients:

  • One package of organic tempeh
  • 1/2 cup DIY BBQ sauce (see recipe above)

Instructions:

  1. Defrost the tempeh and crumble into pieces.
  2. Marinate in BBQ sauce and bake in the oven, wrapped in tinfoil for 20 minutes until the tempeh is cooked and tender, and absorbed the marinade. Best to marinade the tempeh for 1-2 hours before cooking.

Chickpea flour Tortillas

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups chickpea flour
  • 2 cups water
  • Big pinch of salt

Instructions:

  1. Simply combine the salt and chickpea flour in a large bowl. Then add the water to it, and whisk together. Let is sit for 30 minutes to thicken.
  2. In a hot skillet, add a spray of olive oil, and ladle in some chickpea batter in a thin round layer. Let it cook until you see bubbles forming around the whole tortilla, and then flip, just as you would pancakes!
  3. Enjoy the chickpea tortillas right away, as they get easily dried up.

NOTE: If time is a constraint, you can certainly purchase organic corn or wheat tortillas, and simply make the other components featured in this recipe.

Mango, Tomato & Pepper Salsa

Ingredients:

  • 3 medium tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 2 small mangoes, peeled and diced
  • 4 scallion tops, finely chopped
  • 1 orange pepper, diced
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 2 finger chili, finely chopped (or another hotter pepper of choice)
  • 1 handful of fresh coriander leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1 lime, juiced (or 2 if the limes are small)
  • Salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. Combine these ingredients in a large bowl, season with S&P to taste.

Spiced Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup pumpkin seeds
  • Spices: Cumin, smoked paprika, cinnamon, Mexican chili powder, salt,

Instructions:

  1. In a dry skillet, toast the pumpkin seeds with the spices until the seeds start to pop and get slightly golden and crispy. Let cool before serving.

Grilled Mushrooms

Ingredients:

  • 1 package of King Oyster mushrooms, sliced
  • 6-7 regular fresh Oyster mushrooms, roughly torn or shredded

Instructions:

  1. Grill the mushrooms until golden, season with salt and cracked black pepper to taste.

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Q&A With Mark Cregan of Mark’s Hot Sauce 

This post was created in collaboration with my friend Mark, of Mark’s Hot Sauce, an independent Montreal-based company. One of my aims with this recipe, was to demonstrate the many ways to incorporate nutritious chilis into your meals. People are often intimidated by using spice, so I asked Mark what his advice would be for home cooks!

Please tell me a bit about you and your company!

Toronto born, Montreal happily found. I came here to study Science at McGill University and ended up falling in love with the city and all it has to offer. A bit of a food and science nerd, I love to cook and make people happy with the food I make. I’m obsessed with everything spicy, and passionate about eating healthy. This passion is what fuelled my desire to start my own food business, and put Montreal on the spicy food map! I’ve always been crazy about spicy foods, even since I was young, and like many people here was a huge fan of California based Sriracha hot sauce. But I realized that there weren’t really any local, or even Canadian, brands at the time so I sought out to make a unique hot sauce recipe to compete with the big imported brands, while still staying true to my background in food science and sustainability. I really wanted to make a product that was healthy to eat, used local produce, and more than anything you felt good about eating and I felt about making. To me this is more than just a marketing strategy; it’s what I truly believe in. And if that wasn’t possible, I don’t think I would be doing it today.

How do you recommend incorporating chillies into our cooking?

There are so many different ways to incorporate chilis into cooking and eating at home. The absolute easiest way is to add a few dashes of hot sauce on top or on the side of any dish; it will add a bit of a spicy kick, as well as give you the health benefits of eating spicy foods. Another easy way to use chilis while cooking is to add a pinch of dried chili flakes (like the ones you commonly see at Italian restaurants), these are generally pretty mild as far as heat goes, and could be added any time during the cooking process or even after just before eating.

I would say the trickiest way (but the one that comes with the most benefits) is to use fresh hot peppers. The key here is to use a milder pepper, slice it thin (always wear gloves!), and depending on how hot you like it, you could add it in earlier in the cooking process for less heat, or closer to the end for more heat (the longer the chilis cook, the more they lose their heat). No matter how you prepare your meal, incorporating some spicy element into it will give you added health benefits as well as add some character!

For those dislike too much heat, what are some of the milder, yet flavourful chilis to try?

Some milder peppers that are commonly available in the Montreal area throughout the year include Poblano (very mild, great for stuffing), Serrano, red “Finger Hots” (Cayenne), Jalapeño and Thai chilis (on the hotter side, but great for vinaigrettes). Also dried and smoked varieties commonly found in Mexican specialty grocery stores such as Chipotle, Ancho, Pasilla and Guajillo have tons of flavor and are easy to work with.

What is the difference between dried and fresh chilies?

Dried peppers are just the dehydrated form of fresh chili peppers. Some dried peppers are also smoked (like the Mexican varieties I mentioned above), which gives them a unique smoky flavor. Other dried varieties are often sun-dried, like Italian chili flakes and dried Cayennes that are then turned into chili powder. Dried and smoked chilis are great for use in stews and slow-cooked meals, or to spice up pasta sauce. Cayenne powder is also great for making spice rubs for BBQ season! Fresh chilies on the other hand really stand out when they are consumed raw, like thinly sliced Jalapeños or Serranos with tacos, or sliced red Finger chilis with salsa or bánh-mì sandwich.

What are the health benefits of chillies?

There are a ton of health benefits associated with eating spicy foods on a regular basis, including greater longevity, good for the immune system, improved circulation, and boosting overall metabolism. Chili peppers like all peppers are also high in Vitamin C, and eating especially peppers with dark, vibrant colours are rich in phytochemical antioxidants, which help the body fight daily damage caused by free radicals. However, spicy foods should also be consumed with moderation, as too much (or eating any of the super hot novelty varieties) can cause damage to the stomach. One thing I can tell you is that I personally have never caught a cold in almost two and a half years since working with hot peppers on a regular basis.

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Mark’s hot sauce is made with healthy whole food ingredients. Purchase his products online HERE!

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