Avocado, Beans, Dinner, Legumes, Lunch, Mushrooms, Quick, Vegan, Vegetarian

Black bean, mushroom, and avocado tacos

Tacos were actually our first successful home-cooked low-sodium meal two years ago. We licked our fingers clean and rubbed our bellies and patted ourselves on the back and have been making some version of them every one to two weeks since. This version is vegetarian and has our favorite source of vegetarian protein, black beans. It can easily be made vegan if you use vegan cheese or skip the cheese altogether.

We always use corn tortillas; they have much less sodium than flour tortillas. I prefer hard shell tacos and I fry mine in a pan with a little bit of oil. I have yet to perfect my method — I never seem to get the temperature and time ratio right — but they’re still always better and less likely to fall apart than store-bought hard shell tacos, even when I accidentally dry them out. The only constant I’ve noticed is that the fresher they are, the less likely I am to screw them up. My husband toasts his tortillas in the toaster oven for a couple of minutes. Check the tips section for more explicit instructions on how I heat them up.

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Avocado, Beans, Dinner, Lunch, Quick, Soup

Aztec Soup (Spicy Tortilla Soup)

Aztec Soup (Spicy Tortilla Soup) on alickofsalt.com

Here is a recent addition to our repertoire of favorite dishes that are quick to make. But first, a quick digression on my relationship with soup.

Soups are a huge part of my heritage. It’s the first part of every main meal. I didn’t particularly appreciate this custom growing up because, as picky as I am about food in general, I’m even pickier about soup. I was happy to eat it if it was made by my mom or grandma and even then, it couldn’t be just any soup. It basically had to be either strained chicken noodle soup with thin, homemade noodles or fresh bean soup with a tomato base.

And then I had a version of this soup in Nicaragua. It’s a tomato base soup with avocado and cheddar and, the best part, crispy tortilla strips. No, wait, the best part might be how quick it is to make.

It’s slightly tangy, likely from the tomatoes we use, and I’ve made it spicy enough to require some nose-blowing mid-meal. We add fried black beans for some extra protein because we have it as a single dish meal. Make it vegetarian by using vegetable broth instead of chicken broth and make it vegan by skipping the cheese.

Part of what makes eating this soup so fun to eat is that you continually replenish the toppings and can have crispy tortilla strips with every bite. I like letting some of the tortilla strips soak slightly, so parts are crispy and parts are soft. My partner like to eat them before they have a chance to soften.

We generally snack a lot during the day so eat relatively small meals. But serial snackers as we are, this soup that’s supposed to serve at least 5 people is only enough for two meals for the two of us.

A website update: I added a favorite tools section to the website which features some of our favorite kitchen things. The products link to the site where we bought them (or had bought from us from our registries). You’ll notice that currently everything that’s on there is from Amazon. That’s in part because I’m only an affiliate there, but in larger part because I actually do buy almost everything from them. They got me hooked, the tricksters, with a free prime account when I was a student living in a city that had no home goods stores within waking distance and I had no car. If you are a human (i.e. not a spam bot), feel free to suggest your must-haves on that page, and not just from Amazon. I look forward to any recommendations!

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Dinner, Figs, Fruit, Grains, Lunch, Pomegranate, Quick, Quinoa, Salad, Vegan, Vegetarian

Baby kale autumn salad with figs and pomegranate

Baby kale autumn salad with figs and pomegranate

Here is a seasonal recipe combining the last of the summer fruit season with the beginning of the winter one. I really like the sweetness the ripe figs add to this salad but if you’re unlucky enough to live in a place where figs are no longer available, you can add some fig jam to the dressing or just skip the figs altogether.

The main sources of protein in this salad are the quinoa and pecans. I try to time it so that both the quinoa and the pecans are still warm by the time they go in the salad. We prep the fruit and vegetables while the quinoa is on the stove, the pecans go in to the oven just before the quinoa is ready to rest and we toss and dress the salad as the pecans cool.

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Chickpeas, Dinner, Legumes, Lunch, Quick, Salad, Vegan, Vegetarian

Crisped chickpeas and arugula salad

Crisped chickpeas and arugula salad

One of our quick, go-to meals when we’re feeling lazy is some version of this salad. This particular version is vegan. Its large amount of protein from the chickpeas and sunflower seed kernels should satisfy omnivores as well. We add just a simple dressing and we don’t add a lot of it. The cherry tomatoes, ripe avocado, and grated carrot and beet add a lot of flavor on their own.

We add a whole can of chickpeas because we never remember to use the rest of the chickpeas when we use only half. But it’s really quite a lot of chickpeas. If you soak your own or if you’re better at remembering to use the things that end up in your fridge, you could easily halve the amount in the recipe and still have a satisfying meal.

We prepare everything that goes in the salad while the oven is preheating and while the chickpeas are in the oven so the salad is pretty much ready to eat by the time the chickpeas are ready to come out of the oven.

This recipe, too, has in part been adapted from my cooking bible, The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook. The crisped chickpeas are adapted from the book and their recipe is also available on the Smitten Kitchen blog.

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