Saturday 4 August 2007

Friday Night Tacos

One of my work colleagues goes to the Vic Market regularly at lunchtime and on Friday she suggested I come along. I love going with Judy because she knows the prices and loves the produce so it is always a pleasure. And it meant I could get the veggies I needed rather than stopping off at the supermarket on the way home.

I already knew what I was making for dinner. E has been asking for Mexican this week so I had decided to make tacos. I have been looking for tinned black beans because I am too lazy to cook my own, but I was a bit disappointed to read on the label that the the tin I finally found was from the USA and the beans weren’t as coal black as the label promised, so I doubt I will buy them again. (I am reading Barbara Kingsolver's book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and am interested in trying to see if I can eat more local food – which in the first instance means trying to be aware where my food comes from.)

I have written below how I made my chilli non carne as it was a nice little esoteric effort that was a combination of whim and recycling (with my apologies to the purists)! I have had a yen to make soup with apricots and lentils – and I hope you will see it here in the not too distant future. Since I had decided on tacos I thought I could put apricots in the chilli non carne. I am a lover of Australian dried apricots - they are tarter, darker and chewier than the Turkish dried apricots. The Australian ones are also halved and look like little orange ears the way they dry. I have a feeling I found them hard to find in the UK so I am not sure how readily available they are outside Australia. (I have included a photo of them so you know what I am talking about). I also bought a falafel in pitta bread for lunch instead of my soup, so I was pleased when I realised I could avoid waste by adding it to the chilli non carne.

I love having tacos and doing a spread of interesting fillings. On Friday we had tomato, red capsicum, avocado, lettuce, grated cheese, yoghurt and chilli non carne. Tacos are such a great sociable and messy meal. So let me tell you my tacos story.

When I was a naïve 18 year old, I lived in a residential college at my university. It was one of those archaic institutions where we would attend dinner wearing academic gowns and the staff sat at high table. But at lunchtime, staff sat among us. We ate very well for lunches and I have never forgotten having tacos one day. I happened to sit next to the thin graceful nun who was our principal. I was curious to see if she could eat tacos and retain her poise. But rather than stuff a taco and find half of it running down her hands and spilling in her lap (as I do) she put the fillings on the plate and had her unstuffed taco shells at the side. So if you ever need to eat tacos elegantly, I guess that is the way to do it. But where is the fun in that!

Black bean and apricot chilli non carne
(serves 4-6)

1 onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped finely
1 medium carrot, diced
2 zucchini, diced
1 x 440g tin black beans, drained and rinsed
1 x 400g tin corn kernels, drained and rinsed
1 x 400g tin diced tomatoes
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 tsp chilli paste
1 tsp cumin powder
½ tsp dried oregano
9 Australian dried apricots, chopped
400ml orange soup

I cooked the onion, garlic and carrot in about 1 cm of water in a big stockpot for 5-10 minutes on a medium heat, til the onion was starting to soften. Then I added the rest of the ingredients, brought it to the boil and cooked another 5 minutes. I then turned off the heat, waited for E to get home from work and heated it up for another 5-10 minutes when he got home. If you aren’t waiting for others to get home you can probably do it a little quicker!

On the Stereo:
Reprise 1990-1999: Vangelis


  1. So that's how to eat them elegantly! Love those Australian apricots too - especially the unsulphered brown-ish ones.

  2. Lucy - I confess to loving the bright orange of the sulphured dried apricots - but I do like the taste of unsulphured ones.


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