Nourishing recipes excerpted from California: Living + Eating by Eleanor Maidment, published by Hardie Grant Books, May 2019. I really enjoy pulling up at a traditional roadside taco stand where the meaty fillings are as unpretentious as they are delicious, but I’ve also eaten at plenty of taco places in California where the fillings are thoroughly modern and thrillingly creative. I know nowadays we’re all a bit obsessed with roasting cauliflower, but this method of steaming it, then sautéing it in a large pan, gives the nutritious cauliflower a really good texture, not too soft but nicely charred in places. I think frying in butter really adds to the flavor, but you can use oil to make this recipe vegan. The creamy cashew sauce here is great too and can be spooned over just about any vegetables.
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
1 cauliflower, broken into small florets and core removed (about 600 g/1 lb 5 oz prepared weight)
4 tablespoons water
30 g (1 oz) unsalted butter (or sunflower oil)
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 medjool date, pitted and finely chopped (it may be easiest to snip it with clean scissors)
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
pinch of ground turmeric
8 corn tortillas
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
100 g (3 1/2 oz) brussels sprouts, trimmed
juice of 1/2 lime
pinch of sea salt
Herbed Cashew Dressing:
50 g (2 oz/1/3 cup) unsalted cashews
handful of coriander (cilantro)
10 mint leaves
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger root
1 green chili, roughly chopped
75 ml (2 1/2 fl oz/5 tablespoons) water
pinch of sea salt
Soak the cashews in a bowl of cold water.
Put the cauliflower florets in a large sauté pan or shallow casserole dish (Dutch oven) with a lid and add the water. Season with salt and pepper, cover and set over a medium heat. Cook for 5 minutes, shaking from time to time to turn the florets. Remove the lid and add the butter (or oil), garlic and chopped date and toss together with a pinch of salt. Turn the heat up a little and fry for 2–3 minutes, stirring regularly. Pour in the spices and fry, stirring, for another 5–7 minutes until the cauliflower is tender and golden in places. Set aside.
Meanwhile, to make the slaw, finely shred the sprouts and toss them in a bowl with the lime juice and salt.
Make the Dressing
To make the dressing, drain the cashews then put them in a blender (ideally a high-speed one) with the herbs, ginger, chili, water, salt and a squeeze of lime juice. Blitz until smooth, check the seasoning (adding more lime and a splash more water to loosen, if necessary) then transfer to a bowl.
Finish the Tacos
Toast the tortillas (see Note below), and pile in the cauliflower and sprouts, drizzling with the cashew dressing to serve.
Notes on Corn Tortillas
It’s not always easy to buy pure corn tortillas outside of California, whereas they’re ten-a-penny in California supermarkets. Their flavor is distinctively corny and their texture more chewy and substantial. Plus, they’re smaller than flour tortillas, and each taco here is only meant to be 2–3 bites.
There are Mexican (and non-Mexican) supermarkets online you can order them from and I would advise it. I usually buy a variety of 15 cm (6 in) blue and yellow corn tortillas. I prefer to heat them by lowering them straight onto a naked flame on a low hob and letting them char for about 30 seconds on each side. You can also toast them in a similar way in a dry frying pan (skillet), wrapping the heated tortillas in kitchen foil to keep them warm as you heat the rest.