I like tacos because each guest can pretty much decide how much meat or veggies they want wrapped in their tortilla. A tortilla with just the pork would be great, better with a little slaw, but still good. For the non-meat eater the black beans and slaw will make a tasty and hearty meal. Normally, I will cook beans with ham or salt pork to kick up the flavor but this time around I decided to just try seasonings and stock. In this particular case I used chicken stock but substituting vegetable stock would work also if you've got vegetarians at the table. Depending on the black beans you're using you may have to pump up the spices. If you can find and afford heirloom black beans get those, they are much more flavorful and require less seasoning to make the taste pop. The Avocado Slaw was, simply, one of the best things I've come up with. This slaw uses green and red cabbage, red onion, avocado, red bell pepper, radishes, carrots, jalapeno and cilantro. I really enjoy this combination of tastes and color. The red bell pepper adds a nice sweetness that works well with the acid in the slaw vinaigrette. Don't be afraid to adjust the veggies in the slaw to suit your needs or produce availability. You can easily use green bell pepper, green onions. Drop the radishes if you want. Maybe use a Serrano chili instead of a jalapeno for more heat. Toss in some Jicama for extra crunch. It's really up to you. Recipes should only be a guide, take them a make them your own.
We ate the slaw wrapped up inside the tortillas but it’s good enough to stand up as a side dish. One of the keys to keeping this on the healthier side is to keep the dressing to minimum. The vinaigrette is packed with flavor so you don’t need much. If you want more flavor just add more seasonings to the vinaigrette, don’t add more vinaigrette to the slaw. You just want to wet the vegetables not drown them. This will also help to keep you tortilla from getting soggy.
What made this slaw especially tasty was the vinegar I used. A couple of weeks ago I made a trip to Napa to have lunch with some friends. When I’m in Napa I always stop at Rancho Gordo for some heirloom beans. This time I left with my favorite Yellow Eye beans and some banana vinegar. I was thrilled to find, real banana vinegar. A couple of years ago I went searching for banana vinegar because I wanted to cook an Elvis Presley inspire pork belly. So, it was pretty much a given that I would be leaving the store with this stuff. The flavor is sweet and with a very mild vinegar tang. It’s perfect for a vinaigrette and was perfect for this dish. And since it’s made in Mexico it was an ideal addition to this Mexican inspired dish. This vinegar isn’t cheap, actually it’s expensive in my book, but it’s good and if used for special dishes will last a long time.
The beans from Rancho Gordo are so good and thanks to the employees the store is fun to visit. For that reasons I don’t mind giving them a little plug for the banana vinegar. Here’s the description from their website:
You don’t come across something as wonderful as this everyday. Our mild, fruity vinegar comes from the Casa Stivalet plantation in the beautiful state of Verazcruz. Unlike some flavored vinegars, this isn’t plain vinegar with banana flavor added; it’s made from fermented plantano machos, a breed of bananas somewhere between a regular banana and a plantain.
Most people flip when they taste the vinegar. Of course it works as a key player in a salad dressing but I’ve been having fun with ceviches, in particular. A local Napa pastry chef mixed two parts banana vinegar with one part piloncillo (kind of like brown sugar) and drizzled it over vanilla ice cream. it may sound odd but if you’re like me, you’ll hit High C.
The flavor is fruity, and while it’s clearly banana, it’s not too sweet or cloying. The acidity is 6%. Mixed in salads, there’s a vague but wonderful tropical quality that trancends cuisines.
This vinegar isn’t cheap, actually it’s expensive in my book, but it’s good and if used for special dishes will last a long time. (And just for the record, I bought this bottle myself)
As wonderful as the banana vinegar is it’s not going to be available for everyone. In the recipe below feel free to substitute apple cider vinegar, rice vinegar or any other vinegar you might normally have around the house. Or for that matter just use all lime juice. I really like the combination of vinegar and lime juice so I’d recommend staying with that, but if all you got is limes then just use those.
- Red Cabbage, sliced into thin strips
- Green Cabbage, sliced into this strips
- Red Bell Pepper, sliced into thin strips
- Carrot, finely grated
- Radishes, sliced thin
- Jalapeno, finely minced
- Avocado, large dice
- ⅓ cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons vinegar (I used banana vinegar)
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- ¼ cup cilantro, finely chopped
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Place all your sliced vegetables, in the amounts you like, in a large bowl and set aside.
- For the vinaigrette combine the oil, vinegar, lime juice, cumin, mustard and cilantro in a bottle and shake to combine. Let the vinaigrette set in the refrigerator for at least an hour. Taste and add salt and pepper to taste.
- Depending on your taste preferences you might want to add some additional cumin.