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Pennsyltucky Tacos

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In my region of central Pennsylvania, starches like beans, potatoes and pastas rule. Spicy foods are toned down to the point that “south of the border” could just as well mean just south of the Mason-Dixon line.

This twist on stuffed shells allow that southern staple of black-eyed peas to embrace some Mexican seasoning with all of the comforts of snuggling up to some potatoes and pasta. Presented on a hearty blanket of Quicky Mole and enhanced by some zippy Blackberry Salsa and a smooth Avocado Mint Cream, where you are from won’t keep you from loving this flavorful entree.

This recipe is original and designed to enter the Chopped Vegan contest hosted by Post Punk Kitchen on June 24, 2012. The recipe below may sound daunting because it quickly brings together multiple components for an entree that is required to include: black eye peas, fresh mint, fresh blackberries and bittersweet chocolate. Please use the above links to see the individual recipes that come together and help to make…

Pennsyltucky Tacos
serves 4-6
Time : 40 exciting minutes
(turn on the Salsa Fever station on Pandora to keep moving)

4 Tablespoons olive oil (divided)
1 large onion, chopped (divided)
4 garlic cloves, chopped (divided)
1 medium potato, scrubbed and cut into 1/2″ cubes
1/4 Cup sesame seeds
1 tomato, chopped
1 small chipotle in adobo sauce (seeded)
1 small red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 poblano pepper, seeded & chopped (green bell can be substituted)
1 cucumber, chopped
1/2 Cup raisins
1 lime, zested and juiced (juice divided)
12 oz. blackberries
1 jalapeno, halved, seeded and thinly sliced
1 Tablespoon cilantro, chopped
1/4 Cup tahini
1/2 Cup almond butter
2 teaspoons salt (divided)
3 teaspoons cumin (divided)
3 teaspoons basil (divided)
1 teaspoon coriander
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/8 teaspoon powdered cloves
1 Cup water
1 oz. bittersweet chocolate
1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
6 oz. jumbo pasta shells (~24 shells)
1 15.5 oz. can black eye peas (unseasoned)
1 shot agave tequila (or water and a little agave nectar)
2 avocados
1/4 Cup spearmint leaves
baby greens, chopped scallions & lime zest for garnish

Start a 4 quart pot of water to boil as you chop the potato, onion, garlic, tomato, peppers and cucumber.

Start the Quicky Mole in a 1 quart sauce pan. Saute half of the chopped onion in 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add 2 cloves of the chopped garlic and sesame seeds when onions are translucent. Stir for a minute then add the tomato, chipotle and raisins. Lower heat just a bit to allow the chopped tomato to release some of its juices for a couple of minutes.

While the mole is cooking, zest and juice the lime. Add all the zest and 1/2 the juice to the blackberries and gently mash a bit in a bowl. Fold in the chopped cucumber, sliced jalapeno and chopped cilantro. Chill until serving.

The water is probably boiling by now so take advantage of it to boil the chopped potato until just tender, about 5 minutes. While it boils…

Back to the simmering mole and add the tahini, almond butter, 1 teaspoon salt, 2 teaspoons cumin, 2 teaspoons basil, coriander, cinnamon, allspice and cloves. Stir to combine and add 1 cup water and bring back to a simmer. Add the chocolate and stir until it’s melted. Use an immersion blender and pulse until the mole is thick and smooth. Cover and turn the heat all the way down. You can ignore the mole until serving other than a quick stir now and then.

When the potato cubes are tender don’t pour out that water! Keep the water at a low boil until you are ready to add the pasta shells. Use a slotted spoon to take the potatoes out and transfer into a large bowl and mash them a bit with the balsamic vinegar. Set this aside as the start of the filling for the shells.

This would be a grand time to start boiling the pasta shells as per the instructions on their package. They will be finished just about the time you finish the next step of the filling.

Speaking of filling, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a frying pan and add the remaining chopped onion. Sauté over medium heat until the edges just start to brown then add the red and green peppers, remaining chopped garlic, basil and cumin. Cook until peppers are just tender then de-glaze the pan with the shot of tequila (or water/agave blend). Add the drained can of black-eyed peas and stir just until alcohol cooks off. Add the mixture to the bowl with the potatoes and gently fold it all together to mix evenly. Adjust seasoning to taste before filling the cooked shells.

When the pasta shells are cooked, strain them (the water can now be discarded). Each cooked shell will hold about 2 tablespoons of filling to make our little Pennsyltucky Tacos.

Finally, blender the flesh of the 2 avocados with the mint leaves, a pinch of salt and remaining lime juice. You can add some water (up to 1/4 cup) if you need to bring it to a super smooth cream.

To Serve:
Spoon some of the warm Quicky Mole on the bottom of a plate and place 4 – 6 filled Pennsyltucky Tacos on top of the thick sauce. Add a dollop of the Avocado Mint Cream on or beside each and garnish with the greens, chopped scallions and lime zest. Serve immediately with the chilled Blackberry Salsa.


About trueindigo

vegan, runner, blogger, mom, model, artist, tarot reader.

4 responses »

  1. I’ve never thought to use pasta shells as taco shells… great work!

  2. Nice Princess House cookware too!


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