Smoked (Cauliflower) Head & Jammy Cheesy Tacos

The head gets smoked, the taco gets munched, everybody wins.

Ok, so I didn’t manage to get this out on Tuesday, but who said tacos were only for Tuesdays? Tacos are for eating EVERY DAY, amirite? And there are so many ways to add variety and fun if you just get creative.

These particular garden pockets came about after my impromptu lunch at a brand new Mexican-nouveau restaurant last week that featured some of the best vegan tacos I’ve eaten since leaving Mexico City. One of the tacos featured a dense and delectable tomato jam, another had a smoked cauliflower filling that had a wonderfully delicate flavor. I think you’d need a smoker or a grill to get their exact delicate infusion of tender smokiness, but that didn’t stop me from experimenting at home. I think this head got smoked reasonably well, although I’d love to try it again with someone who has a grill and then update accordingly.

I also added as a topper a sort of vegan queso/cotija stand-in made from almonds, which create more of a mild white “cheese” with a grainy-crumbly quality than the richer, creamier cashew, which works so well for sharper Italian or cheddar type vegan cheeses. Making the queso is pretty straightforward, as is roasting the cauliflower; the jam is the most time-consuming element. Not a ton of labor is involved there other than the blanching and peeling, but it needs to simmer about three hours to reduce down. I thought I detected balsamic sweetness in the original, so some vinegar and coconut sugar went into it. Someone online suggested adding ginger, and I liked that idea for a little kick rather than using something more traditional like chili powder or chilis.

Makes about 8-10 tacos in all.

Tomato Jam

  • 2 lbs ripe tomatoes (I used on-the-vine), blanched, peeled & chopped
  • 1/3 cup red onion, diced small
  • 1 T balsamic vinegar
  • 1 T coconut sugar
  • 1 tsp grated/minced ginger
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Peel the tomatoes by blanching them in boiling water for about a minute and then plunging them into a bowl of ice water. After about five minutes, take them out and peel off the peel – it should come off easily. Core and chop the tomatoes and add them with the juice and seeds to a quart saucepan. Stir in the other ingredients and bring everything to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and let simmer uncovered for about three hours or until reduced down by 2/3, to a “jammy” consistency.

Queso Mexicano

  • 3/4 cup blanched slivered almonds, soaked in hot water at least 15 mins or at room temp for a few hours
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 T nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 T agar flakes + 2 T water

Add everything from the almonds through the 1/2 cup water to a food processor or mini blender and process until grainy-smooth. Heat the agar flakes and 2 T water in a small saucepan to dissolve the flakes. As it starts to become gelatin-like, add in the almond mixture and bring to a bubble/boil, stirring to thicken it for a few minutes. Scoop/pour into a pint size container and chill until cold and more “set,” at least an hour.

Smoky Cauliflower Filling

  • Small-medium head of cauliflower, chopped into roughly 1″ florets
  • 1/2 T smoked grapeseed oil (if available) or avocado oil
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp adobo sauce from a jar/can of chipotles in adobo
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • fresh chopped cilantro for garnish
  • corn tortillas (8-20 depending on whether you double them up)

Preheat the oven to 425. Use the oil to grease a baking sheet. Combine the paprika, adobo, salt, garlic powder and a few turns of the pepper grinder with about 2 T of water in a bowl and toss the cauliflower florets in the mixture to coat them. Lay the florets on the baking sheet in a single layer and bake for 20-25 minutes or until tender, flipping/tossing them about halfway through.

On lightly toasted corn tortillas (see this post for how-tos) spread a swirl of tomato jam, top with cauliflower, cilantro, and a few pinches/spoonings of the queso, and dig in!

4 Comments Add yours

  1. mirandagualtieri says:

    Cracking up here! Brilliance as always.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. My Dubai Guide says:

    Cauliflower is my secret addiction. Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Madame le P. says:

      Thanks! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Oooooh now doesn’t this make my mouth water! 😍

    Liked by 1 person

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