Tacos are a traditional Mexican dish with a mixture of various fillings on a flat bread tortilla.
Having recently visited the Yucatan Peninsula and consumed tacos on a daily basis, it became evident to me that even in Mexico, different regions make their tacos with local available produce, meats, beans and rice. The American version can consist of anything from local produce, like zucchini, squash and corn, to the traditional tomatoes, cheese and lettuce.
Since Cinco de Mayo is celebrated on May 5, try this taco recipe for a slant on local flavor and taste.
My goal is to build a taco that is tasty, local and provides creativity in the ingredients. We will use some of the traditional elements, but stick with me as we explore various toppings to make your taco healthy and fresh.
Select your tortilla
Tortillas vary in size, color and grain. For a healthy option, select the smaller size ones made from whole grains. My favorite is a six-inch corn blended tortilla.
Start with a protein
The filling can be made from ground turkey, chicken, pork, fish or hamburger. For a vegetarian option, try tofu crumbles, black beans or refried vegetarian beans.
Brown the meat using your favorite Mexican spice, like chili powder, garlic, cumin, white pepper and onion powder.
Pick your filling
Local vegetables this time of year that will add flavor and color can be used a filling. Try spiral cut squash like yellow squash or zucchini. Cook in a small amount of olive oil to tenderize.
You will not want to overcook — keep them crunchy. Also, shave off fresh corn and add it to your filling or mix it in with your protein.
Pick your toppings
Diced tomatoes make a great topping with color and flavor. A squeeze of fresh lime juice is also a favorite.
Other toppings could include diced avocado, sliced hot peppers like jalapeño, bell or other peppers that grow well in our area. Traditional toppings include various types of shredded cheese and sour cream.
Don’t forget the fresh herbs
Cilantro grows very well in this area, as well as chives, onions and parsley. Fresh herbs add a splash of color and flavor.
Try the homemade salsa recipe for a side dish with chips or for a topping to pep up the flavor.
2-3 medium-sized fresh tomatoes, diced into small pieces
1/2 red onion, diced
Peppers of your choice – jalapeño (hot) or bell pepper (milder)
Juice of one lime
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
Salt and pepper to taste
Add some spices like chili powder or cumin for flavor
Prepare all the ingredients and mix in a bowl. Store in refrigerator for up to 2 days.
Pamela H. Allen is the interim county director and an agent at the University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension office in Crestview.