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Mushroom ‘chorizo’ tacos bring a vegetarian flare to a family favorite

By Gretchen McKay Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Mushrooms often get a bad rap for being slimy and too “earthy.” Yet if you’re a fan, varieties such as portobello, cremini and oyster mushrooms can help you work more vegetarian dishes into your rotating meal plan. All make excellent substitutions for beef or pork in any number of dishes because of their “meaty” flavor.

Here, sliced baby bellas offer a plant-based take on Mexican chorizo for tacos. Paprika adds a smoky note, and there’s also a bit of a kick from cumin and a pinch (or two) of cayenne pepper. They’re super easy to make and also super good for you – always in season, they are naturally low-cal and a good source of antioxidants and B vitamins.

Cooking note: Mushrooms soak up water like little sponges, so you don’t want to douse them to wash as you would other vegetables. All they need is a swift rub with a damp paper towel. Also, be sure to slice the mushrooms instead of cutting them into chunks – it creates more surface area, which allows for a better crisp.

I stuffed the cooked mushrooms inside street-sized flour taco tortillas, and topped them with shredded cabbage tossed in a little olive oil and fresh lime juice. The filling would also be great inside an enchilada or quesadilla. For a gluten-free dish, substitute soft or crunchy corn tortillas.

Mushroom ‘Chorizo’ Tacos

Adapted from bluezones.com

1/4 cup olive oil

1 pound cremini (baby bella) mushrooms, wiped clean with a damp paper towel and sliced

1/2 yellow or red onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1-2 tablespoons smoked paprika

1 tablespoon cumin

Dash or two cayenne pepper, or to taste

1/4 cup minced cilantro, plus more for garnish

2 tablespoons cider vinegar

Salt and pepper, to taste

10 corn or flour street taco tortillas, warmed

Salsa, pickled carrots, sliced radishes and/or shredded cabbage tossed in oil and lime juice, for garnish

Lime wedges, for serving

Warm olive oil in a medium pan over medium heat. Add mushrooms and saute, tossing only occasionally, until they are soft and slightly crispy. Do not overcrowd your pan!

Add onions and cook until they are soft and translucent, about 2-3 minutes. Add garlic and toss to combine.

When garlic is fragrant (about 1 minute), add spices and cilantro, tossing to make sure mixture is well blended. (You might want to add more spices depending on flavor preference.) Stir in vinegar.

Build tacos with tortillas, mushrooms, salsa and other toppings. Serve with lime wedges for squeezing over.

Yield: 3-4 servings