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Whole30/Paleo Vegan & Gluten Free Tacos with Harissa Roasted Cauliflower

Taco Tuesday cannot get any better than this, and I mean it. If served with my Cassava Root Tortillas this technically will not fall into the Whole30 guidelines, but in my opinion it does. Mimicking foods like tortillas goes against the rules, throwing this into the Paleo diet category. I am here to say that life isn't that deep. I am also here to say that a lot of the Whole30 guidelines throw your cultural background into the trash. If you can recreate a recipe without using grains or sugar, I don't see it as a negative but more as a positive. The purpose of Whole30 is to reimagine how we eat in an entirely different light. How can you eat better foods without losing quality, culture or pleasure? A lettuce wrap won't do that, it will simply lead to relapses in bad eating habits after the 30 day challenge is over. Lettuce will not be sustainable long term, and will ultimately have you missing out on lifelong favorites. So, if you're not wanting lettuce wrap tacos make sure to check out my tortilla recipe!

I do stress that you should try out an entire Whole30, guidelines and all. With this being my second time on the diet, I already know what to expect and what didn't work for me. I am plant-based and gluten free, and as a chef, I've already sacrificed a lot. So, I will not be sacrificing tortillas, nor replacing them with a leaf. Over the last 26 years I have realized that proteins do not fill me up, but carbohydrates do. I have eaten over a pound of tofu at a time, and could easily eat more if I gave myself the opportunity to do so. Now, add in potatoes, rice, bread, or any other form of carb and I am satiated.

Chef's Notes:

  • Place your tofu crumbles and harissa cauliflower into the oven at the same time, which will reduce your time stressors.

  • Have all taco filling ingredients prepped before starting, this is called mise en place... everything in its place.

  • A better texture is achieved by roasting the tofu crumbles prior to adding into the filling. You should not skip this step.

  • If using harissa puree, use 2 tablespoons instead of dried seasoning.

  • In the filling, finely mince the mushrooms ONLY if you don't like mushrooms. Trust me, you won't notice that they're in there even if sliced... but the flavor will not have depth without them. Any form of mushroom will work here (bellas, shiitake, oyster, etc.)

Harissa Charred Cauliflower

2lbs Cauliflower florets

2 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar, or distilled white vinegar

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon curry powder

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon harissa powder

1/8 teaspoon cayenne

1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt

  1. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper, and preheat the oven to 400ºf.

  2. Toss the cauliflower florets in olive oil and chosen vinegar.

  3. Sprinkle with salt and spices, shake to coat.

  4. Arrange on the prepared baking sheet, and roast for 25-30 minutes until golden brown and charred in areas.

Taco Filling

14 oz extra firm tofu

1/2 teaspoon salt

1T nutritional yeast

3 tablespoon olive oil

8oz mushrooms, thinly sliced or minced

1/2 large onion, coarse dice

4 cloves garlic, sliced thinly

1 tablespoon cumin

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon red chili flake, reduce to 1/4 for less spice

1 teaspoon chipotle powder, reduce to 1/2 for less spice

1-1/2 teaspoon oregano

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon onion powder

1-15.5oz can chickpeas, drained & not rinsed

2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar, or distilled white vinegar

3/4 cup vegetable stock

salt and pepper, to taste

  1. Preheat oven to 400ºf and prepare a baking sheet with parchment.

  2. Crumble tofu into small chunks into a bowl, similar to minced meat, and coat with salt and nutritional yeast.

  3. Roast for 25 minutes to dry out, the tofu may form a little color in this time.

  4. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Once heated add in olive oil, onions and mushrooms. Cook for 15 minutes until a deep brown color is achieved and fragrant. Stir every few minutes.

  5. Turn the pan to low, add in sliced garlic, spices and chickpeas. Stirring constantly, cook for 1-2 minutes until garlic and spices are toasted but not burnt.

  6. Deglaze the pan with the vinegar, make sure to scrape up the browned bits from the pans bottom.

  7. Add cooked tofu and vegetable stock and simmer for one more minute before taking off the heat. If the pan is looking dry, add in another 1/4 cup of stock to bring back some moisture. Season with s&p, to taste.

  8. Serve with my cassava tortillas, or in lettuce cups. You can also use this for taco salads, or topped over riced cauliflower.

This recipe will be perfect for any Super Bowl party, and won't scare away your carnivorous friends. I am a spice fiend, so prepare for some HEAT! If you aren't one with the spice, make sure to decrease certain ingredients to match your palate.

As per normal, please tag me if you use this recipe! I love seeing the photos, and hearing feedback! You can find me on Instagram and Facebook, @cheekygingerchef.

Thank you and keep it cheeky!


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