It’s February, and I am all about fresh, bright food that hints at warmer days to come. Although, I live in the Northeast, so who am I kidding? Those warmer days are still months away, no matter how hopeful I always get when March approaches. At the very least, I will channel sunnier days in the food I eat while remaining cozily inside. What better way to brighten an endless stretch of overcast 30 degree weather than a taco night? Tacos have a way of transporting me to a balmy summer night on vacation. These crispy cauliflower tacos are a weeknight favorite in our house. I like tacos that have layered flavor and texture, and these hit all the right buttons — crispy, crunchy, tangy, creamy, slightly-spicy. Also, they are entirely plant-based and are vegan-friendly and gluten-free-friendly. But, more importantly, they are delicious, and will please all types of eaters.
The recipe consists of a few simple components: crispy cauliflower, creamy black bean spread and a tangy cabbage apple slaw. Both the bean spread and the slaw can be prepared a day or two in advance. If you are into meal prepping over the weekend, both would be great candidates to add to your lineup. This recipe intentionally makes extra of both to carry you through multiple meals. After taco night, I love to stuff sweet potatoes with the leftover toppings, use them in salads or grain bowls or use the black bean spread as a snack-time veggie dip. This recipe is the perfect example of how I like to cook for weeknights — relying on components prepped in bulk to make throwing together meals that much quicker. For taco night, if you have already prepped the black bean dip and the slaw, all you will have left to do is roast the cauliflower, slice an avocado and warm some tortillas. Easy! And if prepping is not your thing, the black bean spread and the slaw are both quick and easy and can be prepped while the cauliflower roasts.
Now for the cauliflower. I toss the florets with spices, olive oil and cornmeal before roasting at high heat to achieve an addictive crispy, crunchy texture. I like to use coarse, stone-ground cornmeal to really take the crunch to the next level. After the cauliflower is nicely browned and crisp, assemble the tacos straight away and serve! I like to dollop the black bean spread on each tortilla, layer a few slices of avocado, top with a handful of cauliflower, a spoonful of slaw, a squeeze of lime and a little cilantro. One bite, and I am instantly transported to a warm, sunny day.
Enjoy! xo Maggie
For the crispy cauliflower:
- 1 head cauliflower, chopped into 1.5 inch florets
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp coriander
- 1/2 tsp chili powder
- 1/4 cup cornmeal
For the creamy black bean dip:
- 2 15-oz cans black beans (ideally no salt added and BPA-free), drained
- 1.5 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- Juice of 1 small lemon
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1–2 tbsp water
For the tangy cabbage and apple slaw:
- 3 tbsp lime juice (from about 2 small limes)
- 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 tbsp honey (use maple syrup for vegan)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tbsp mustard
- 2 tbsp mayo (I used avocado oil mayo; you can also substitute vegan mayo or greek yogurt)
- 1/2 tsp ground coriander
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 large head purple cabbage, shredded
- 1 green apple, finely sliced into matchsticks
- 2 scallions, white and dark green parts thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
- 1/2 to 1 whole jalapeño chile, seeded and minced (optional)
- 1 ripe avocado, sliced
- 8 tortillas, warmed (use corn or grain-free tortillas for gluten-free)
- Lime and cilantro for garnish
- Preheat oven to 425°.
- Place cauliflower florets in a large bowl. Add oil, salt and spices and mix to coat. Sprinkle cornmeal over the cauliflower and mix until evenly coated.Transfer cauliflower to two baking sheets lined with parchment paper. I recommend using two baking sheets with the florets spread widely apart to encourage browning. Roast for 30-35 minutes, tossing halfway through. Cauliflower should be crisp and starting to brown.
- While the cauliflower roasts, make the slaw and black bean dip. For the black bean dip, place all ingredients except water in a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth. Add water 1 tbsp at a time to thin out to a creamy (not pasty) consistency. I usually need only 1 or 2 tablespoons of water. For the slaw, whisk together lime juice, ACV, honey, salt, oil, mustard, mayo and spices in a large bowl until well-combined. Add shredded cabbage, apple, scallions, cilantro and jalapeño (if using). Toss to combine. Let sit at least 15 minutes before serving, to allow the flavors to develop and the cabbage to tenderize. You can also prep both of these components a day or two in advance.
- Assemble the tacos: place a generous dollop of black bean spread on each tortilla, layer on a few slices of avocado, add a handful of cauliflower florets, top with a spoonful of slaw and garnish with fresh cilantro and a squeeze of lime. Enjoy!
- For the slaw, I use a mandolin to make quick work of shredding the cabbage and a mandolin with a matchstick attachment to shred the apple. You can also use a food processor, a box grater or a regular old knife.
- You can prep the slaw and black bean dip a day or two in advance.