Charred Chili & Cashew Cream Tacos

This is without a doubt one of my favorite recipes which I have written. Like another recent recipe, it was also inspired by the new Iron Chef season. There was an episode which was focused entirely on chilies. Chilies are already one of my favorite ingredients to cook with, so I was super intrigued to see how the chefs would incorporate them into all their dishes. They spoke about how matching chilies with cream are a match made in heaven. My imagination was immediately sparked and I knew what I had to do – a creamy cashew chili sauce. 

Naturally, the perfect vessel for a delicious chili sauce is a taco. In order to make sure the focus of the taco is on the sauce, the base is kept relatively simple. Roasted cauliflower, cherry tomatoes and chickpeas provide the perfect amount of texture, acidity and flavor to compliment the sauce beautifully. The last important element is obviously the tortilla, which should not be forgotten. I have recently struggled to find quality corn tortillas, until recently I went to a local Latin American grocery store and found excellent tortillas. Up until then I was so disappointed in the ones I bought at my typical grocery store I contemplated learning how to make my own. So, try and find high quality corn tortillas – they will make all the difference. 

Now, before we get into, let me have one final word on this cashew chili sauce. It is actually a charred chili sauce. Before being blended with cashews the chilies are pan seared. I recommend doing this with the vent on high as well as windows open if possible. Charring the chilies makes them release their capsaicin, so it could irritate your nose a bit, be careful and know the flavor is worth it! 

Active Time: 30 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

Taco filling

  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • 2 15oz cans of chickpeas, drained
  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into small florets
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp cayenne 

Chili-cashew cream sauce

  • 3 poblano peppers
  • 3 jalapeño peppers
  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • Juice of 1 lime (~2 tbsp)

The rest

  • Finely diced white onion, to top
  • Finely chopped cilantro, to top
  • Corn Tortillas

Directions: 

  1. Set the oven to 425F. In a large bowl toss the cherry tomatoes, chickpeas and cauliflower with the olive oil, salt, chili powder, cumin, cayenne and lots of freshly cracked black pepper. Line two large baking sheets and split the filling equally among the two. Bake for about 25 minutes tossing at the 15 minute point. By the end the tomatoes should be very well roasted and popped, and the cauliflower is easily pierced with a fork, set aside. 
  2. Heat up the vegetable broth until near boiling. Add the cashews to a blender and pour the hot vegetable broth over them. This will soften the cashews while we prepare the rest of the sauce so it can be blended silky smooth. 
  3. Prepare the chilies by cutting them in half and removing the white veins and seeds. Cut them into thick strips. Heat a cast iron skillet on high heat. Add a generous splash of oil and then add in the peppers with a large pinch of salt. Make sure your vent is on high and if possible a window is open. Char the peppers for 5-7 minutes until the outside is fairly blackened but not burned. 
  4. Add the peppers, nutritional yeast, salt, sugar and lime juice to the blender and blend on high for 2-3 minutes until smooth. Taste and adjust for salt. 
  5. Grill your corn tortillas. If you have a gas stove, throw them directly on the burner and carefully grill them on the open flame using tongs. If you have an electric stove, heat them in the cast iron skillet used for the peppers. 
  6. Assemble your tacos: start with a grilled tortilla, layer on the cauliflower & chickpea roast and top with a very generous helping of sauce, white onion & cilantro – enjoy!

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