It looks like I'm falling into another Joe Yonan recipe theme - tacos! And why wouldn't I be? Tacos are undeniably fantastic. No matter your dietary restriction or preference, there's a taco out there for you, a peaceful culinary neutral zone where everyone from carnivores to gluten-free vegans can find something delicious to fill their belly.
My own taco preferences run quite the gamut as well. While you won't find me in the drive-through getting Doritos Locos tacos, I might be chowing down on anything from the quick-and-easy crunchy ground beef variety to handmade corn tortillas stuffed with long-cooked carnitas. This meal, however, lies somewhere in between. I took a shortcut and bought my tortillas, and though I didn't spend all day lovingly crafting my taco filling, I spent just enough time prepping and crafting this complex filling to still make it feel like a special treat.
The list of ingredients might seem a little long, but I promise this is just the right amount of complex. The basic combination of onions, beans, garlic, tomatoes, and greens form a healthy, filling, and delicious base, but it's the luxurious finishes - feta, avocado, and pepitas - that make these tacos so special. They're smoky, spicy, salty, fresh, and rich all at the same time, a wonderful variety of flavors and textures incorporated into each messy bite. You might end up with a few delicious juices dripping down your chin, but these tasty tacos are worth every bit of inconvenience.
Chickpea, Spinach, Feta, and Pepita Tacos
adapted from Serve Yourself by Joe Yonan
3 or 4 corn tortillas, preferably homemade
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon ground ancho chile
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 small shallot lobe, thinly sliced or 1/4 cup finely diced onion
1 small tomato, chopped (or substitute 1/2 cup canned crush tomatoes in their juices or even salsa)
1/3 cup cooked chickpeas, preferably homemade, drained and rinsed
1 ounce (about 1 cup) lightly packed spinach, chard, or baby kale leaves, stacked, rolled, and thinly sliced
Kosher or sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 avocado, peeled, seeded, and sliced cut into chunks
1 ounce queso fresco or feta cheese, crumbled
1 tablespoon roasted pumpkin seeds (pepitas; see note)
Hot sauce, such as Tabasco or Tapatio, for serving (optional)
Cilantro, for serving (optional)
1/2 lime, cut into wedges, for serving (optional)
1. Warm the tortillas and wrap them in aluminum foil to keep warm.
2. Pour the oil into a medium skillet over medium heat. When the oil starts to shimmer, add the ground ancho, stir to combine, and cook until it sizzles and becomes very fragrant about 30 seconds. Add the garlic and shallot and cook until the vegetables start to soften and slightly brown, 4 to 6 minutes.
3. Stir in the tomato and chickpeas and cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomato softens and starts to break down. Add the spinach and cook until the spinach wilts, 1 to 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
4. Lay the tortillas out on a plate and divide the chickpea-spinach mixture among them. Top with the avocado and feta and sprinkle with the pumpkin seeds. Serve with your choice of hot sauce, cilantro, and lime wedges.
Note: To roast the pumpkin seeds, spread them in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake at 375 degrees F for 5 to 7 minutes, until the seeds are very fragrant. Immediately transfer to a plate to stop the cooking and allow the seeds to cook completely. Alternatively, toast them in a skillet over medium heat, tossing frequently.