Transitioning to a vegan diet comes with certain sacrifices. Whether the choice is made for moral or health reasons, it's not always easy to say goodbye to some of your mealtime favorites (I'm looking at you, chicken quesadilla). And it can be made even more difficult when it comes between you and the traditions you've long shared with friends and family. That was the case for the author of the new cookbook Provecho, Edgar Castrejón, who worried his decision to go vegan in college would infringe upon his relationship with his family. As a proud first-generation Mexican American, he spent countless hours over the years in the kitchen with his mom, aunts, and grandmothers bonding over family recipes featuring meat-centric dishes that were a cornerstone of his culture.
Edgar's cookbook, Provecho, is the product of his desire to create healthier meatless variations of the dishes he grew up cooking and eating. The recipe below is just a snapshot of the 100 plant-based recipes featured in the book that honor the traditional, often meat-heavy classics of Mexican and Latin American cuisine. To experience even more of the flare and variety that Edgar brings to vegan eating, you can purchase your copy of Provecho here.
Shredded Jackfruit Tacos
Canned jackfruit (the green kind, not the sweet one packed in syrup) has become popular with plant-based eaters because, when pulled apart, it mimics the texture of shredded meat. For the filling here, the key is to cook the jackfruit with oil so it becomes crispy but falls apart. Then simmer it in the sauce to saturate it with amazing flavors. (Just cooking in the sauce without crisping makes it gummy.) The sauce is semi-traditional Yucatán style, inspired by adobo and al pastor. It's smoky, and tart from the fresh orange juice.
Ingredients (Makes 8 Tacos)
- 5 tablespoons avocado oil
- ½ white onion, finely chopped
- 5 garlic cloves, minced
- 6 guajillo chiles
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- ⅓ cup fresh orange juice
- ¾ cup low-sodium vegetable broth
- 1 large tomato, roughly chopped
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon paprika or smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- Two 20-ounce cans young (green) jackfruit in water, rinsed and drained
- 8 corn tortillas or flour tortillas, warmed
- Pico de Gallo for topping
- Vegan crema or preferred vegan sauce for topping
- Sliced avocado for topping (optional)
- Finely chopped cilantro leaves and tender stems for topping
- Lime wedges for squeezing
- In a large skillet over medium heat, warm 2 tablespoons of the avocado oil. Add the onion, garlic, guajillos, and cumin seeds, and cook, stirring, until the oil takes on a bit of color from the guajillos and cumin, about 4 minutes (lower the heat if anything browns too quickly). Turn the heat to low and cook, stirring, until the guajillos are reddish-brown, not burnt or dark brown, about 2 minutes. Remove the guajillos and set aside. Transfer the onion mixture to a high-powered blender.
- Stem and seed the guajillos, then add to the blender. Add the orange juice, vegetable broth, tomato, oregano, paprika, and salt, and blend until smooth. Set this sauce aside.
- Shred the jackfruit with your hands until it looks like shredded chicken. Pat dry with paper towels and set aside.
- Warm a large stainless-steel or nonstick skillet over medium heat for 4 to 5 minutes, then add the remaining 3 tablespoons avocado oil and let it get hot. Add the jackfruit and cook, stirring occasionally, until it is golden brown and crispy, about 8 minutes. Lower the heat and cook until the jackfruit is browned, about 5 minutes more, stirring in 1 tablespoon water if the jackfruit starts to stick to the skillet. Turn the heat to medium-high, strain the sauce into the skillet, and bring to a boil. Turn the heat to medium, cover partially, and let simmer until the sauce has thickened and most of the liquid has evaporated, 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and keep warm.
- Fill the tortillas with the jackfruit and top with pico de gallo, vegan crema, avocado (if desired), and cilantro. Serve the tacos with lime wedges for squeezing.