I’m always looking for a good stand-in for beef picadillo, the spicy ground beef mixture that makes crispy tacos taste so great. Tempeh has just the right texture, and it easily takes on the flavor of the spices—it doesn’t really mimic ground beef, but for my tastes, it makes an excellent taco filling.

Yield: Tacos for 3-4

Cook time: 1 hour

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 small onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 jalapeño, chopped* (with seeds for spicy, without for mild)

8 ounces organic tempeh, chopped

1/2 tsp sea salt

1/4 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp chili powder

1/4 tsp dried oregano

1/2 cup salsa of choice

1 dozen corn tortillas

Oil for frying

*Use latex gloves or a plastic grocery bag to protect your hands while handling fresh chiles, as the oils can cause discomfort and burning. Wash your hands immediately afterward and avoid touching your eyes, face or other sensitive areas.

Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Cook onion, garlic, and jalapeño until softened, about 8 minutes. Add tempeh and cook until slightly softened and beginning to brown, about another 10 minutes. Season with salt, cumin, chili powder, and oregano. Stir in salsa, reduce heat to low and cook another 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

Meanwhile, fry the taco shells. Heat about an inch of oil over medium high heat until it just begins to quiver. Use tongs to dip a tortilla halfway into the oil, propping the dipped side up with a fork to create the curved taco shell shape. After about 2 minutes, repeat with the other side. Drain taco shells on paper towels.

To assemble the tacos, spoon tempeh into shells and top with chopped lettuce and tomato, shredded cheese and sour cream.

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