(Note: this post was originally published on February 2, 2020. The date above reflects migration to the new platform.)
A Bright Spot During Winter
It's the depth of winter, and the days (at least in Vermont!) are cold and short. I was feeling pretty bummed out about it on a recent Sunday afternoon, but do you know what made me feel better? Brightly-colored food! I know it seems silly, but brainstorming about, creating, and eating some really beautiful and brightly-colored tacos immediately made me forget about short days and cold temperatures. These Rainbow Winter Tacos were the perfect cure for my winter blues.
These tacos are a fusion of two cuisines that I love: Mexican food and harvest/autumnal food. I know it may seem like an odd combination, but please give it a try! I think one of the reasons it works is because the two can be bridged with acid. Meaning, use autumnal acid (e.g. pomegranate seeds, apple cider) in place of how you'd traditionally find it in Mexican cuisine (e.g. lime), and all of the sudden it comes together.
You can really take this idea and run with it however you like, but my goal was to create beautiful, whimsical, colorful tacos that were like a taco truck ran into a harvest feast.
There's a LOT going on in this dish in terms of flavors! Some aspects of these tacos are purely Mexican, like blue corn tortillas, fire-roasted peppers, and pepitas. Other aspects are purely Thanksgiving, like pomegranate, blackberries, and thyme. Those are the more straightforward parts.
Now onto the fun stuff! Certain elements are Thanksgiving-like ingredients, but spiced in a Mexican way, like sweet potatoes and brussel sprouts roasted in chili powder and cumin.
On the flip side, other elements are Mexican-like ingredients, but flavored in a Thanksgiving way. For example, the guacamole is made with pomegranate and the salsa is made with persimmon instead of tomato. It all totally works.
Make Them Your Own!
The variations here are endless. Adding your grilled protein of choice would work. Swapping in cranberries or cranberry sauce would be delicious. Looking for something creamy? Your favorite greek yogurt, sour cream, or cashew crema would be lovely. What about some apple slices? Grilled corn? Chili-spiced pecans? Just try to stick to the theme (purely Mexican, purely Thanksgiving, or one flavored like the other) and it will all make sense.
My other suggestion? Make lots of extra goodies! If you're going to be roasting veggies, making salsa, etc, anyways, double or triple everything! All those leftovers will be great in burrito bowls later in the week.
Hosting a winter get-together? These tacos would be so fun! If you want to prepare them in advance, you can easily roast the veggies the day before and just reheat them before serving. You could also make the persimmon salsa ahead of time. Just make sure to keep everything stored separately. When you're ready to serve, make the guacamole, assemble, and enjoy! I don't suggest assembling these ahead of time since the tortillas will get soggy.
Let's Talk Ingredients
Here's what you'll need for this recipe, as well as some thoughts, tips, and possible substitutions. If you make any substitutions, I'd love to hear about it in the comments section below.
Oil of choice. For roasting.
Apple cider. I like to use a splash of cider to moisten the roasted veggies. It's not critical, but it really does add a lovely holiday vibe.
Salt and pepper
Poblano pepper. Or use jalapenos if you want more heat, or green bell peppers for no heat at all.
Fuyu persimmon. If you're not familiar with these, I highly suggest checking out Google. There are some varieties that are very astringent and non-edible until very ripe. The squatter-shaped ones, called Fuyu, are much more forgiving. Don't mistakenly get an astringent one, you'll be very sad!
Cayenne. You'll use this as the heat in the persimmon salsa; feel free to adjust it to your own tastes.
Pomegranate arils. There are some good tutorials online for how to open and clean a pomegranate. I always get it cleaned and ready a day ahead of time since it can be a bit of a pain.
Small corn tortillas. I was thrilled to find these beautiful blue corn ones! Grab some if you can, but yellow corn is fine too.
Pickled red onion. I always make my own, it's so easy. But you can certainly buy some jarred ones too. If you make your own, use apple cider vinegar to match the flavor theme!
Pepitas. These are the inner green parts of pumpkin seeds and are totally delicious. Most artisan grocery stores will have them. I prefer roasted and salted.
To be honest, these take a bit of time to make, just because there are so many different elements. But what else are you going to do on a freezing cold winter Sunday when it gets dark at 4:30PM? It's clearly a day for making tacos! And please sip a ginger margarita or pomegranate margarita while you cook, it follows the exact same flavor pattern.
The whole point of these is to have fun! Tacos are fun anyways, but Rainbow Winter Tacos are even better.
It makes me so happy to hear from you and see your creations! Please leave a comment below and let me know what you think about this recipe. If you post a photo on Instagram, hashtag #TheRogueBrusselSprout and tag me (@TheRogueBrusselSprout) in the post text so that I'm sure to see it.
It's much more than just food. Together we'll explore seasonal ingredients and healthy recipes. But we'll also delve into health and wellness topics, self care tips, books, podcasts, and the natural world. This newsletter is all about leading a more colorful, plant-filled, holistic, and intentional life.
Cut the brussel sprouts in half and lay them cut-side down on an oiled baking sheet. Salt and pepper generously. Roast at 425 until caramelized and tender, about 20-30 minutes.
Peel the sweet potato and cut it into cubes. Lay them out on a separate oiled baking sheet, and again salt and pepper generously. Roast at 425 for about 15-20 minutes until tender.
When the brussel sprouts and sweet potato are almost done, give them both a tiny splash of apple cider so they stay moist. Sprinkle them generously with chili powder and cumin, and return them to the oven for a few more minutes to toast the spices and cook down the cider.
Fire-roast the poblano pepper directly over the flame of a gas burner until evenly charred (conversely, this works fine under the broiler if you don't have a gas stove). Let the pepper cool and cut it into thin rings.
Dice up the persimmon and add the juice from half your lime, salt, pepper, and a pinch of cayenne. Give it a good mix.
Mash up the avocados with generous salt and the juice from the remaining lime half. Gently stir in some pomegranate arils.
When you're ready to serve, warm up your tortillas. You can toast them briefly over a gas burner or heat them in a microwave in a damp cloth.
Now it's time to assemble! Lay out your tortillas. Add a heap of roasted sweet potatoes and brussel sprouts. Garnish with a few pieces of pickled onion, a few pepper rings, some pomegranate arils, a blackberry or two, and some thyme leaves. Serve the persimmon salsa, pomegranate guacamole, and pepitas on the side so that everyone can top their own.