dinner healthy Mexican Vegetarian

Spicy and Sweet Brussels Sprout Tacos with Poblano Rice

Forever finding ways to fit more tacos in my life – here’s another meat free option that make veggies the star of the show.

A few times a week, we try to have meatless meals around here. Usually, I try to make them veggie-forward, but I’m not saying there aren’t occasional bowls of cacio e pepe or aglio e olio. 😉

There’s a taco shack in our town where a while back I ordered Brussels sprout tacos and they were… just ok. The Brussels sprouts were left pretty large, which made them kind of mushy and difficult to eat, and it was mostly just “meh”. This didn’t feel like adequate treatment of the Brussels sprout – honestly one of my favorite vegetables. So, why not improve on it at home, since we are all locked inside anyway?

The spice in the dressing is provided by sambal oelek- an Indonesian chile sauce that if you haven’t tried, you really need to get on board. It’s not a vinegary or smoky hot sauce- it’s simply ground chiles and a little salt and vinegar. It lasts forever and it can go in… basically any dish where you want a little heat without adding flavors other than the flavor of the chiles themselves. You find it in the Asian section of most grocery stores, near the sriracha, it’s a clear plastic jar with a green lid and a gold label. (It’s actually made by the some company that makes sriracha- which might have turned me off if I had realized that before I tried it. I’m not a sriracha fan. I know- there’s a whole committed tribe of you sriracha heads out there… don’t hate me.)

We tested both corn and flour tortillas for this and they really were both great. I char mine a little on a gas burner and wrap them in a clean kitchen towel to keep them warm. If I were only going with corn tortillas, though, I would have instead warmed them in a skillet with a knob of butter. I find this keeps the corn tortillas more pliable and less tough- but I’m not warming my tortillas in two methods and dirtying an extra pan to do it when it’s just the two of us soooo… gas burner it is. I don’t actually have a gas range (I dream.. someday…) so I use the side burner on my propane grill outside. Works great.

Brussels Sprout Tacos – serves 4

  • 1 lb Brussels sprouts, halved – large sprouts quartered
  • 1 russet (Idaho) potato, peeled, 1/2” dice
  • 1-1.5 Tbsp Sambal Oelek
  • 1.5 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2-1 Tbsp agave syrup or honey, to taste
  • Juice of a half of lime, plus lime wedges for garnish/squeezing
  • Flour or corn tortillas
  • Chopped cilantro, for garnish

Preheat the oven to 425°. Foil line a large sheet tray (or two small trays) and put them in the oven to preheat.

In a large bowl, toss the halved/quartered Brussels sprouts with a tablespoon of olive oil and season generously with kosher salt and black pepper. When the oven and tray are preheated, remove the tray from the oven and quickly and carefully spread the Brussels sprouts in a single layer. Try to keep as much space as possible between the pieces so they brown, rather than steam. Return the tray to the oven and roast for 10-15 minutes, until tender in the center when a fork is inserted.

Meanwhile, heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a large nonstick skillet. When hot, add the diced potato in a single layer. Don’t salt the potato until it is as brown as you want it- salt draws out moisture to the surface and prevents browning in this kind of scenario. Cook, undisturbed, until golden brown on one side, then flip with a spatula to brown the other side. When all of the pieces are well browned, season with salt and pepper. (Don’t be shy, potatoes like salt) Set aside and keep warm.

When the Brussels sprouts are ready, transfer them to a cutting board (use the foil to pick it all up and slide it out), and roughly chop. You can leave the sprouts in halves/quarters if you’d like, but I find them easier to eat this way. Return the sprouts to the large bowl from earlier and toss with the sambal oelek, spices, agave syrup, and lime juice. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired.

Warm the tortillas: flour tortillas warm well over a gas burner, or under the broiler. Corn tortillas are best warmed in a skillet with a knob of butter or a little oil. Wrap the tortillas in a clean kitchen towel to keep warm and pliable.

Build the tacos: pile a scoop of potato, then a scoop of Brussels sprouts onto each tortilla. Garnish with cilantro, serve with lime wedges.

Poblano Rice

  • 1 cup jasmine or basmati rice
  • 1 poblano pepper, diced
  • Chopped cilantro and lime wedges, for serving

In a small sauce pan, heat one teaspoon of olive oil over medium high heat. Add the poblano and season with a pinch of kosher salt and black pepper. Sauté for 1-2 minutes, until the poblano is slightly softened, then stir in the rice, coating the grains in the oil. Add 2 cups of water and a BIG pinch of kosher salt and bring to a boil. Stir, cover with a lid, reduce the heat to low and set a timer for 15 minutes. (Do not lift the lid in those 15 minutes.) When the timer expires, check to be sure all of the water has been absorbed and the rice is cooked through, and fluff with a fork. Finish with chopped cilantro and a squeeze of lime, if desired.

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