These tacos certainly fall into the category of ways to make dinner in a flash. I think it took me about 20 minutes from start to finish. My tacos are a variation of a recipe on the NY Times website, called “Soft Black Bean Tacos”.
Under the “Health” category of the NY Times website, they have recipes categorized by ingredient. Obviously, I found this one under beans. Most of these recipes are very simple and use basic, whole ingredients, like eggs, swiss chard, beets, beans, pasta, and many others. I wouldn’t have thought to look at the NY Times for recipes, but I’ve found many of them to be very handy if I find myself in need of ideas for what to do with a specific food item I have on hand.
I made the tacos with pinto beans instead of black beans, and I made a fresh salsa instead of buying a bottled or prepared fresh salsa. Making your own fresh salsa takes no more time because you can chop the ingredients as the beans cook away. Instead of feta or queso fresco, I used cheddar because I happened to have some on hand. Feel free to use whatever cheese you have on hand or no cheese at all.
Here’s what you need:
To serve 2 people:
1 can pinto beans
4 corn tortillas
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tablespoon canola oil or olive oil
1 medium tomato
1 jalapeno or serrano pepper
a handful of fresh cilantro
about 1/4 of a medium white or red onion
juice of 1 small lime
Step one: Open can of beans, put in a bowl, and mash with a fork or a big mashing tool like mine, as pictured.
Step two: Heat oil over medium heat. Add a drop of water to the pan and if it sizzles, the pan is warm. This should not take very long, especially with a gas stove. Once the pan is warm, add the cumin and chili powder to “toast” them slightly, about 1 minute or so. Then, add the mashed beans and about 1/2 cup-2/3 cup of water. Stir to combine, turn heat down a bit, to medium low. Cook for about 10 minutes.
Step 3: While the beans cook, make the salsa. Chop the onion, cilantro, pepper, lime, and tomato into pieces similar to this:
Combine all the ingredients, add a pinch of salt, and use a fork to extract the juice from the lime halves. Stir to combine and distribute the salt and lime juice evenly. Your salsa will look something like this:
Step Four: Prepare the tacos. Heat the tortillas either in a skillet over medium heat, or wrap in a paper towel and microwave for about 30 seconds. Fill the tortilla with about 1/4 of the bean mixture. Grate some cheese over the top, or use pre-grated cheese. Top with salsa, and voila, you have dinner:
Avocado would make a good addition to these tacos, either in place of or in addition to the salsa. Feel free to make whatever adjustments you want: flour instead of corn tortillas, bottled salsa instead of fresh, black beans instead of pinto, etc. Beans are very handy to have in your pantry, and this is one of many, many things you can do to turn a can of beans into an actual meal. This particular dish proves that very simple ingredients can indeed become a very satisfying meal, especially on days where you don’t have the time or don’t feel like making anything more complicated.