Need a quick fix dinner? These vegan tacos are a store cupboard winner

Tinned jackfruit, black beans and chipotle are as pantry-friendly as it gets, writes Aaron Hutcherson

Monday 26 July 2021 12:13
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<p>After just a few minutes on the stove, these tacos are ready to go</p>

After just a few minutes on the stove, these tacos are ready to go

A well-stocked cupboard is a lifesaver when you’re trying to put dinner on the table in a hurry. Sometimes that means throwing together a quick pasta or fried rice, and other times it might mean grabbing a ready meal from the freezer.

Here’s another option to keep in your back pocket: chipotle jackfruit and black bean tacos. While tinned jackfruit or chipotle sauce might not be staple ingredients in your kitchen, this recipe is a good introduction to their utility and versatility, and demonstrates how hitting up the international aisles of the supermarket (if you’re not already a frequent visitor) can lead you to wonderful ingredients.

What is jackfruit? A tropical fruit native to India, jackfruit is the largest tree fruit in the world and can reach up to 50kg. When ripe, it can be eaten raw, similar to other sweet fruit, or incorporated into desserts. But when young and green, it has a fairly neutral flavour that reminds some of an artichoke and has the ability to take on the flavours of whatever it is cooked with.

While you can find the large, whole fruit in some markets, young jackfruit is more widely sold tinned, packed in brine, in much more manageable amounts in many well-stocked shops and Asian supermarkets (I found it in my local grocery store nestled among bottles of teriyaki and dumpling dipping sauces). Before cooking, it’s a good idea to rinse the fruit to remove some of the salty brine.

Young jackfruit is popular among vegans and vegetarians because when shredded it has a texture that resembles pulled meat (when shredding the jackfruit, you can discard the seeds if you want, but it’s not necessary). But as Joe Yonan pointed out, “jackfruit isn’t the meat substitute it’s cracked up to be," because it isn’t a protein powerhouse like other meat alternatives. “That’s why we revere tofu, build recipes around tempeh, investigate seitan.” However, this can be easily and cheaply solved by adding a tin of beans to the jackfruit.

Canned chipotle sauce does the heavy lifting for flavouring these tacos (the jackfruit-and-bean mixture is also seasoned with cumin, oregano, paprika and garlic powder). A simple blend of peppers, tomatoes, vinegar, onion and seasonings, chipotle sauce lends a ton of flavour and a moderate dose of spice with a nice, slow burn. While I don’t find it overly spicy, I’d recommend those sensitive to spice start by adding only half the amount called for and then give the taco filling a taste before adding the full amount.

After just a few minutes on the stove, your filling is ready to go. When assembling your tacos, always start by warming the tortillas – be they corn or flour, shop-bought or homemade – and then top them with your favourite fixings. Jarred salsa and pickled jalapeños keep this recipe cupboard-friendly, but feel free to use whatever toppings you have at your disposal.

Chipotle jackfruit and black bean tacos

Shredded jackfruit is a popular meat alternative as it resembles chicken

Jackfruit is popular among vegans and vegetarians because, when shredded, it has a texture that resembles chicken. Its neutral taste means it can be used in a variety of dishes, such as these tacos. Canned chipotle sauce does the heavy lifting when it comes to flavor, lending a touch of spice and a nice, slow burn, and black beans add bulk and protein. Serve the tacos with your favorite salsa and pickled jalapeños to keep this recipe pantry-friendly, or feel free to use whatever other toppings you enjoy.

Makes: 4 to 6 servings

Total time: 20 minutes

Where to buy: Tinned jackfruit can be found at Asian markets and well-stocked supermarkets. Be sure to select green fruit in brine, as other types are not suitable for this recipe. Chipotle sauce can also be found at well-stocked supermarkets.

Storage notes: Leftovers can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.

Ingredients:

One 400g tin green jackfruit in brine (not syrup)

1 tbsp vegetable oil or another neutral oil

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp dried oregano, preferably Mexican

½ tsp sweet paprika

¼ tsp garlic powder

Fine sea salt or table salt

Freshly ground black pepper

One 400g tin black beans, drained and rinsed

One 200g jar chipotle sauce

12 15cm corn or flour tortillas

Shop-bought salsa, for serving (optional)

Pickled jalapeños, for serving (optional)

Method:

Drain and rinse the jackfruit. Shred it using two forks or your hands. When shredding the jackfruit, you can discard the seeds if you want, but it’s not necessary.

In a large non-stick frying pan over medium heat, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the jackfruit, cumin, oregano, paprika, garlic powder and a pinch each of salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the black beans and chipotle sauce and cook, stirring occasionally, until the beans are warmed through and the jackfruit is nicely coated, 3 to 5 minutes.

Warm the tortillas in the microwave or a dry frying pan over medium-high heat for a few seconds on each side, then wrap them in foil. To assemble the tacos, lay out the tortillas and top each with some of the jackfruit-and-bean mixture. Top each with a spoonful of salsa and a few slices of pickled jalapeños. Serve hot.

Nutrition per serving (2 tacos), based on 6 | Calories: 231; total fat: 5g; saturated fat: 1g; cholesterol: 0mg; sodium: 738mg; carbohydrates: 36g; dietary fibre: 9g; sugar: 5g; protein: 7g.

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