There is always time for tacos. During my sheltered mid-century New England childhood we were never exposed to Mexican foods. The garlic in spaghetti sauce was about as exotic as our family got. I never tried Mexican food until college, and for a long time I thought tacos only consisted of brittle corn shells, stuffed to the gills with hamburger seasoned with powder from a mix. Imagine my delight to find that tacos do not come from a factory and can be every bit as varied as seasonal foods allow.
Throw away those foil packets of Old El Paso taco seasoning. Let your imagination loose. Wander through the farmers’ market with an eye to an easy supper, because summer is almost here, and we have lots of fun to plan for. Remember, squash season is hurtling towards us – and it always pays to have some tasty squash ideas up your sleeve.
Tacos can be casual and light fare. If you don’t mind the usual resulting mess, putting all the extras into little bowls for the kids to dress their own tacos is fun. The dog loves it, too. We like to add jalapeños, grated cheese, chopped onion, chopped lettuce, chopped tomatoes, green or red peppers chopped, sour cream, fresh cilantro, and of course, the favorite among fourth grade boys all over the world, a bottle of hot sauce. Double dog dares.
For the grown ups, you might consider some more subtle flavors: feta cheese instead of Cheddar, fresh salsa, slices of avocado, cucumber, radishes, a squeeze of fresh lime juice, or quick pickling the vegetables. I like this recipe that uses beer and tequila, as meat tenderizers, not for the cook: http://www.foodrepublic.com/2013/09/03/how-to-make-the-best-ground-beef-taco-meat-2/
I like crispy taco shells, but the more sophisticated among you Gentle Readers might prefer soft shells, which lend themselves nicely to fish tacos and other rarefied taste treats. I had some beef tacos in a restaurant the other night, and was very happy that it was not my first date with Mr. Friday, since I took one bite and the shell exploded, and I had onions and peppers and ground meat and wisps of fresh cilantro all over my lap. And then I inhaled a piece of the shell while I was laughing at myself, and Mr. Friday almost had to perform the Heimlich maneuver on me! How mortifying. Be careful where you enjoy your merriment!
Start your day off right with breakfast tacos. Enjoy yourselves this summer!
Lunchtime crispy meat tacos – without the flavor packet:
Use up that squash taco recipe: http://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1016747-tacos-with-summer-squash-tomatoes-and-beans?action=click&module=Collection+Page+Recipe+Card®ion=Taco+Night!&pgType=collection&rank=8
Dinnertime fish tacos:
And remember, you are supposed to be using the grill and staying out of the kitchen. Practice makes perfect: http://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/grilled-chicken-tacos
And with all the beautiful strawberries in season right now, you would be nuts not to incorporate them into your taco meal. Make come chocolate tacos for dessert. They cannot be beat.
“Never underestimate how much assistance, how much satisfaction, how much comfort, how much soul and transcendence there might be in a well-made taco and a cold bottle of beer.” ― Tom Robbins