28 Jan. 2022: Spiced Chickpea Tacos with Cilantro Pesto

One of the improvements I’ve been trying to implement in 2022 is an increase in plant-based cooking. That’s lead to the discovery of Nisha Vora’s recipes on Rainbow Plant Life. This one was a definite winner because not only is it tasty and plant-based, as promised it was a 20-minute vegan meal. Twenty-minutes? Yes!

Spiced Chickpea Tacos with Cilantro Pesto

Recipe created by Nisha Vora on Rainbow Plant Life

Ingredients:

Spiced Chickpeas

  • 1 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 2 tsp Simply Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 3/4 tsp kosher salt
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • Squeeze of lime juice

Cilantro Pesto

  • 3 cups loosely packed cilantro (leaves and tender stems, omit tough stems)
  • 1/3 c Roasted Cashews
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder or 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1 small jalapeño pepper or ½ of a jalapeño pepper, cut in half
  • 2 to 3 TSBP freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt plus more to taste
  • Freshly cracked black pepper to taste
  • 4 to 5 TBSP of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1-3 TBSP water (only as needed-I needed about an extra TBSP)

Taco ingredients

  • 6 corn tortillas (I used Nisha’s recommendation of La Tortilla Factory Tortillas, handmade style)
  • 1 large avocado diced
  • Salsa of choice 

Method:

  1. Transfer the chickpeas to a clean dish towel or a layer of paper towels and gently pat dry as much as you can without smushing them.
  2. Heat a large nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat with the 2 teaspoons of oil and spread the oil out with a paper towel to evenly distribute it. Once hot, add the chickpeas and spread out in a single layer. Cook undisturbed for 2 to 3 minutes to allow some browning. Toss and cook for another 3 minutes, or until chickpeas are golden brown and blistered in spots. (It was lots of fun to hear the chickpeas pop as they heated – may be best to stay close as they “may” pop out of the pan)
  3. Add salt and spices, and toss well to coat the chickpeas. Cook for 2 to 4 minutes to allow flavors to blend, then take off the heat and hit with a squeeze of lime juice.
  4. Make the cilantro pesto (I did this ahead as part of the food prep). Add the roasted cashews to a food processor and blitz until in small pieces. Add the cilantro, garlic, pepper, 2 tablespoons of lime juice, and salt. Blend until a paste forms, scraping down the sides as you go along.
  5. With the motor running, stream in the olive oil to start to form a sauce. Scrape down the sides again, and stream in more oil as needed until you have a smooth yet thick texture. If the pesto is still not smooth enough but you don’t want to add more oil, add a spoon of water at a time until the sauce comes together. Taste the pesto, adding more lime juice as needed. Store the pesto in an airtight glass jar in the fridge for up to 5 days, or freeze up to 6 months.
  6. Lightly char the tortillas (optional). Turn on an oven burner (or multiple burners) on medium-low. Place a tortilla on the burner. Allow the tortillas to char for about 30 seconds. Use tongs to check if they are somewhat charred underneath, then flip the tortillas until charred on the second side, 15 to 30 seconds. Adjust the heat as needed. (I’m more of a wimp here – wiped out my nonstick skillet and charred the tortillas in the skillet)
  7. To assemble the tacos, spoon some cilantro pesto into the center of each tortilla. Add a handful of the spiced chickpeas. Top with diced avocado and salsa.

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