For a southern Californian, Mexican and Tex-Mex dishes impart a certain comfort-food quality. The cooking style is plentiful, authentic in many venues from taco carts to restaurants, and I've stood in long lines to claim my handmade tortillas at Santa Barbara's La Super Rica Taqueria. Two years ago during a terrible lapse in judgment, I ordered fajitas at a Mexican restaurant in Vermont. Though I'm not an expert, I know fajitas should not be served with carrots, but they were nestled among the onions and peppers, along with ketchup on the side. So sad. I think it's fair to say that there are some things (like clam chowder), that New England does exceptionally well. Mexican isn't one of them.
Fajitas were one of my favorite foods to make when I began cooking more seriously in college. They were easy, flavorful, and involved guacamole – always a good thing. For years it was always the same: grilled chicken, yellow, red and orange peppers, caramelized onions, and sour cream, cheese, and guacamole for garnish. I finally branched out to steak fajitas, but have recently put them aside (Ok, I make them once a month instead of once a week) and have been more adventurous with dishes like beer battered fish tacos (very California), and these Crispy Black Bean tacos.
It’s also helpful that I actually eat black beans now. Beans didn't appeal to me growing up, but over the years I’ve seen the light. These little tacos disappear fast but are deeply satisfying. The shell is crisp, slaw crunchy and sweet, and feta mild but very complimentary. I was so absorbed in eating them that I missed a solid five minutes of American Idol. Thank goodness it’s now possible to rewind live television.
Crispy Black Bean Tacos
1 15-ounce can black beans, drained
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
5 teaspoons olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
2 cups coleslaw mix
2 green onions, chopped
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
4 white or yellow corn tortillas
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
Bottled chipotle hot sauce or other hot sauce
Place beans and cumin in small bowl; partially mash. Mix 2 teaspoons olive oil and lime juice in medium bowl; add coleslaw, green onions, and cilantro and toss to coat. Season slaw to taste with salt and pepper.
Heat 3 teaspoons olive oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add tortillas in single layer. Spoon 1/4 of bean mixture onto half of each tortilla; cook 1 minute. Fold tacos in half. Cook until golden brown, about 1 minute per side. Fill tacos with feta and slaw. Pass hot sauce alongside.