When I lived in Los Angeles, I had a standing solo date at SunCafé in Studio City. It’s a phenomenal raw restaurant where they serve up jicama nachos, raw supreme pizzas, cashew kale shakes, and raw tacos. (You’ve got to love the wizardry of raw food that takes salad ingredients and turns them into comfort food.) I’d tuck in for a meal, and then trot over to Griffith Park for a hike to my favorite overlook in Southern California.
Often people complain that after a vegetable-based lunch they are hungry in no time. But when raw food doesn’t shy away from fat, it’s satiating, filling, and energizing. After a meal at SunCafé, I was ready to race up the dirt mountain paths while the Black Eyed Peas blasted through my iPod. (Remember, this was back in 2009…)
It probably won’t surprise you that raw options in Iowa, where I live now, are on the slim side… But luckily it’s fast and easy to make raw tacos at home. No dehydrator or expensive blender required. (And of course, no stove either.) Just some chopping, a whirr in a food processor, and lunch is ready.
The taco meat is made with walnuts, but the flavor is deceptive. It really tastes like the cooked taco filling you already know and love with the flavors of cumin, coriander, paprika, and chili powder. The filling gets a sticky, tomato-y flavor from sun-dried tomatoes. (Feel free to use oil-packed, bagged, or the kind that you rehydrate first. Any of them will work.) And then the taste is balanced out with a salty dash of tamari. If you haven’t made walnut taco meat in the past, prepare to be amazed. (By the way, this taco meat is also excellent on nachos. Keep that in mind for your next nacho emergency.)
Instead of wheat or corn tortillas, I used collard leaves as the shells. Collards vary in size. You may have mini raw tacos or be able to make a burrito instead. Just remember to cut out the tough collard rib first. That can be difficult to chew. With the rib missing, just pull one flap of the collard leaf over the other to keep your fillings from falling.
If raw collard leaves are too bitter for you, opt for romaine, cabbage, or even iceberg instead. Any of them will work for holding your taco-y goodness.
After that, fill it up with all of your taco filling favorites. I chose diced red bell pepper, green onion, tomatoes, cilantro, and pickled jalapeño slices. But you could also add avocado or guacamole, sliced olives, or a drizzling of cashew queso. The options are endless.
One bite and you’re going to love it. How do I know? Well, like the Black Eyed Peas said, “I Gotta Feeling.” Also do you know which Black Eyed Peas song is a favorite amongst camels and whales? My Humps.
Yeah, sorry about that. I’ll show myself out…