A lightly charred corn tortilla wrapped around fresh vegetables, methodically seasoned protein, and a bright salsa is the gastronomical embodiment of the phrase “less is more.”
But in the United States, the concept of the taco has been warped by large “Mexican-style” chains, and while these fast-food restaurants try to mimic authentic flavors (we’re giving them the benefit of the doubt here), customers are usually drawn in by the overly salted meat, globs of sour cream, and fistfuls of shredded cheese. But a true taco is not designed to be overly indulgent or heavy, but rather a combination of clean, well-orchestrated flavors.
These five taco recipes are light and balanced, utilizing fresh seafood, smoky and spicy legumes, and bright pops of citrus. But best of all: each of these taco recipes can be part of your weekly dinner menu.
Don’t feel guilty about taco night again. Here are five better-for-you taco recipes.
Grilled Salmon Tacos With Avocado Cabbage Carrot Slaw
A sprinkle of cumin and a kiss of smoke from the grill give these salmon tacos a distinct and memorable taste. Unlike meat-based tacos that are loaded with cheese and sour cream, these are topped with a cool avocado slaw making them light and nutritionally balanced.
The absence of any meat allows the subtle spices and savory lentils to truly shine. Unlike the soupy ground beef mixture served at many Mexican-themed fast-food chains, these lentil tacos get their taste and texture from a combination of toasted whole spices, San Marzano tomatoes, and freshly grated vegetables. Lentils are a powerful superfood and an important vegetarian source of iron, protein, and vitamin B6.
Spicy Black Bean Tacos
Most contemporary interpretations of tacos are centered on meat, but simple black beans are the star of this recipe. Using a base of dried black beans adds extra cooking time, but you will be amply rewarded for your trouble. Making the beans from scratch (rather than from a can) with cumin, coriander, and chili powder gives them a deeper flavor as well as a creamier texture.
Tuna Tacos With Horseradish Cream
Raw fish can be served sashimi-style or as the star of a poke bowl, but fresh tuna in particular can stand up to a variety of bold flavors. Raw tuna is tossed with lemon zest, diced jalapeño, cilantro, ginger oil, and horseradish; making for a taco that’s bright and citrusy, but also spicy and complex. To make the tacos, simply combine all the ingredients together, and garnish with your favorite toppings. No cooking required.
Vegetarian Mushroom Tacos
Because of their firm yet chewy texture, mushrooms are an ideal substitute for meat. These spicy and citrusy tacos are only 150 calories each. Pair them with a side of wild rice and some freshly made guacamole, and you will forget all about Chipotle Mexican Grill and Taco Bell.