By Meredith Wagner | Arts & Life Editor
If you’ve ever indulged in a vegetarian taco from Torchy’s, you likely understand the craze. Piled high with various toppings and flavors, including a hard-to-come-by, satisfactory meat substitution, they’re a great fix for vegetarians and meat-eaters alike. Nothing beats the taste of a home-cooked meal, however, and the creativity that cooking your own meals calls for can be a stimulating form of stress relief, a rewarding task that helps you wind down at the end of a long day. I did my best to recreate a restaurant favorite at home so that you can enjoy the process of producing your own food and save some money in the long run. Torchy’s ‘Independent’ is described on their menu as a taco with “hand-battered and fried portobello mushroom strips, refried black beans, roasted corn, escabeche carrots, cotija cheese, cilantro and fresh avocado.” Try it at home for yourself.
There are three parts to this recipe, some of which can be purchased at the store if you’re short on time.
*makes two servings (two tacos per person)
- 2 portobello mushroom caps, thoroughly washed
- 2 T coconut oil
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp cumin
Pickled Carrots and Onions
- Jar of pickle juice.
- 4 small carrots, shredded or sliced into thin strips (can be purchased shredded from the store)
- 1/4 sweet onion, sliced into thin strips
- 3/4 can black beans
- 1 T olive oil
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- a dash of salt
Tacos & Toppings
- 4 tortillas (corn or flour)
- 1 small avocado
- Fresh cilantro
- Cotija cheese (optional)
- Torchy’s Diablo Sauce, salsa or other hot sauce
Pickled Carrots and Onions
- Complete this step two days in advance. Alternatively, simply purchase escabeche carrots from the store.
- Using leftover juice from a jar of pickles, add the shredded carrots and thinly sliced onions to the jar. Refrigerate for at least two days. They should retain the flavor of the juice, so buy pickles with interesting flavors like spicy garlic or bread and butter.
- Warm 1 T olive oil over medium heat on a skillet.
- When oil is warm, add 2 cloves minced garlic and 3/4 can of black beans. Sprinkle salt over the top.
- Immediately begin mashing the beans with a potato masher. If you don’t have one, a fork works well, too.
- Mash the beans until they are even and consistent throughout. Transfer to a plate and set aside. Keep them warm if you can.
- Slice the mushrooms into strips about 1/2 inch thick. 2 portobellos should produce about 8-10 slices.
- Prepare an assembly line: In the first bowl, add 2 eggs and whisk together. In the second bowl, add 1 cup all purpose flour, cumin and paprika.
- One by one, coat the mushroom slices in the egg, then the flour, then set aside on a plate. Repeat this process until all mushrooms are evenly coated.
- Heat 1 T of coconut oil in a skillet on medium heat. Save yourself an extra dish, and use the same skillet you used for the refried beans.
- Place mushrooms directly into the oil. If the pan becomes dry and begins to create smoke, add more coconut oil a little at a time.
- Fry for 2 minutes on one side. Use tongs to flip mushrooms over and fry for 2 minutes on the other side. They’re ready when they are tender all the way through.
- Set fried mushrooms aside.
- Smear refried beans onto tortilla.
- Add 2 portobello slices, 2 avocado slices, fresh cilantro, pickled carrots and cotija cheese (optional).
- Top with Torchy’s Diablo Sauce, salsa or your favorite hot sauce.