Corn tortillas, both yellow and white, are heaven sent for the gluten-free diet. Quesadillas, a simple matter of placing a filling between two tortillas and either microwaving or cooking in a dry skillet, are great for appetizers, brunch or lunch. But soft tacos, a softened tortilla with a filling, that can be eaten out of hand by simply folding the filled tortilla, are even more versatile for brunch, lunch, or dinner.
The kinds of filling for soft tacos can be varied endlessly, but there are two techniques I use that are essential for creating a taco that one really can pick up and eat, and one in which the fillings won’t immediately slide out the front and back or off the sides.
The first technique is to soften the tortilla so it bends rather than breaks. I do this in a hot, dry skillet, toasting the tortilla on both sides until it “puffs” in the middle. Then I transfer each tortilla as it is done to a plate or bowl and wrap the growing stack in plastic wrap to keep it soft and warm. This skillet toasting also increases the eye appeal of the tortilla and adds to its flavor.
The second technique is to spread the softened tortilla with a flavorful puree so that the filling sticks when the taco is folded over. Two obvious choices are warmed refried beans and prepared guacamole.
- 6 yellow or white corn tortillas
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 1 cup chopped green onion, white and green parts
- 1 cup diced red pepper OR
- 1 cup diced mixed red, orange, yellow peppers
- 1 pound frozen medium shrimp, peeled, deveined, defrosted, patted dry
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- Prepared guacamole, as needed
- Shredded lettuce, as needed
- Tomato salsa, as needed
- Lime, cut into quarters, as needed
- Soften tortillas one by one on both sides in a hot dry skillet until the tortilla puffs. Then wrap and stack on a plate covered tightly with plastic wrap to keep them soft and warm.
- In a nonstick skillet over medium heat, heat canola oil. Add onion, pepper and sauté, stirring, until cooked through and beginning to brown. Add shrimp, oregano, salt, and cumin and sauté, stirring until the shrimp are just cooked through. Remove from heat.
- Spread one softened tortilla with 3 tablespoons of guacamole. Divide the shrimp filling into six portions (1/4 to a scant 1/3 cup each) and place one portion in the center of the tortilla. Top with shredded lettuce, salsa and a squeeze of lime.
- Repeat with remaining tortillas and filling.
- Fold over and eat out of hand.
Beef Taco with Refried Beans
Yield: 8 to 10 tacos
10 white or yellow corn tortillas
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 pound lean ground beef
1 (1.25-ounce) package gluten-free taco seasoning, preferably Bearitos brand
1 (15-ounce) can refried beans, warmed in a small pan, as needed
Shredded Mexican cheese mix, or cheese alternative, as needed
Shredded lettuce, as needed
Tomato salsa, as needed
Soften tortillas one by one on both sides in a hot dry skillet until the tortilla puffs. Then wrap and stack on a plate covered tightly with plastic wrap to keep them soft and warm.
In a nonstick skillet over medium heat, heat canola oil. Add onion and sauté, stirring until soft. Add garlic and sauté one additional minute.
Add beef and taco seasoning and sauté, stirring, until beef is completely cooked through and any juices have evaporated. Remove from heat.
Spread one softened tortilla with 2 to 3 tablespoons of refried beans. Divide the beef filling into 8 to 10 portions and place one portion in the center of a softened tortilla. Top with cheese, lettuce and salsa. Repeat with remaining tortillas.
Fold over and eat out of hand.
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