When it comes to the commercialization of holidays, people tend to point most of their angst towards Christmas. And who can blame them, when it’s not just a day, but a whole season of consumption? I have a similar knee-jerk reaction when it comes to Cinco de Mayo.
A day that’s supposed to celebrate Mexican patriotism, instead conjures up images of frat boys in factory-made sombreros, red, white, and green beads, drinking out of plastic margarita cups. All of this festive decor will find itself in the dumpster tomorrow. (And we had just finished getting rid of all the plastic Easter eggs and St. Patrick’s Day streamers.)
This year instead of wallowing in holiday cynicism, I decided to let it inspire me to create a great meal. Luckily, my neighborhood has dozens of small Mexican shops and produce stands, where the veggies are a steal. (I bought my supplies for this entire meal for under $10!)
I decided, rather than serving up some seitan, or veggie crumbles, which are taco staples in my vegan household, to go with something a bit more authentic and light: black bean tacos with mango salsa. Here’s my recipe:
For the salsa, chop up the following:
1 mango, peeled and pitted
1/2 cucumber, peeled and seeded
1/3 Cup red onion
1/2 Cup jicama
1/2 Cup red pepper
8 mint leaves (most people would use fresh cilantro, but I have an allergy to large quantities of it, and the mint works well.)
Also add: juice of one small lime, a few shakes of cayenne pepper, and salt. Combine all in a large bowl.
You’ll want to prepare the salsa ahead of time and let it chill in the fridge for an hour or so. I also pre-prepared some of my tomatillo sauce. You can find my sauce recipe here. (Full Gringo disclosure: this time around, I added 1/4 block of tofu, medium firmness, to make it a bit creamier.)
To prepare the beans, I just heated them up in a sauce pan and seasoned with a Mexican blend I have on hand. (Cumin, chili pepper, black pepper, onion or garlic powder would all be good in a blend if you want to make your own.)
I used two fresh corn tortillas per taco, for… structural support. I layered on some chopped lettuce and tomato, and then topped with a scoop of black beans, a spoonful of mango salsa, and then I squeezed on some tomatillo sauce. My husband and I gobbled up two tacos each, and were stuffed. We’ll have plenty leftover, so this recipe could easily serve 4.