Oaxaca Tacos with Seasoned Black Beans and Lime Cilantro Slaw

We just finished having Oaxaca Tacos for dinner and we're both sitting here asking ourselves if there is possibly room for a few more bites in our already full stomachs. We've decided to split one more because they just tasted so good. You know that feeling, don't you?

The first time we actually had Oaxaca Tacos was not in Oaxaca. As a matter of fact, we were in Oaxaca in August and I never saw them on the menu. We were introduced to them at the Hotel San Ignacio in Belize. When we told the waiter we wanted something vegetarian he scrambled back to tell the chef and emerged with these wonderful corn tortillas filled with a mashed pototoe mixture. Honestly, I would never have put that combination together but I assure you, dear readers, it tastes great.

I can't remember what was served with this dish at the hotel, but we serve ours with black beans and have modified the filling a bit. Feel free to invent your own filling by adding various veggies to the potatoes.

I'm going to break this recipe down into 3 parts: the black beans, the tacos and the side lime cilantro slaw. But please don't be intimidated, once the black beans are made the rest is easy. If you do the beans in advance and freeze them you can just pull it out in the morning and use it in the evening for dinner.

1. The Seasoned Black Beans
adapted from the oh-so-good cookbook: Hot & Spicy & Meatless

If you have never made your own black beans, try this recipe and you will never go back to canned. The aroma that fills the kitchen while the beans are cooking is worth it in and of itself.

2 cups dried black beans
1 bay leaf
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
2-3 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon curry powder
salt and pepper to taste

First soak the beans overnight in a pot with cold water. The next day you can rinse away the old water and add fresh water to cover by 3 inches or so. Bring to a boil then add the bay leaf, oil, cumin, oregano, garlic and curry. Reduce heat and simmer for 1 1/2 - 2 hours until the beans are soft. Add a little more water along the way if it boils away. Salt and pepper to taste.

2. The Oaxaca Tacos

Gather the following ingredients:
3 large russet potatoes, peeled, quartered
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 - 1 1/2 cups grated jalepeno jack cheese
3/4 cup roasted corn
8 corn tortillas, thin variety
canola oil for frying

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Put potatoes into a pot and cover generously with water. Bring to boil then lower heat to simmer and cook until potatoes are soft (aproximately 15 minutes). Drain well and while they are still warm go ahead and mash them with the butter and salt. Set aside.

Heat canola oil in a frying pan over medium-low flame. There should be enough oil to just cover the tortilla when frying - you may need to add more along the way as the oil is absorbed. Dip each tortilla into the oil for about 20 seconds on one side, turn and another 20 seconds on the other side. The idea here is to warm the tortillas to a pliable state. You do not want them to get crispy. Lay them into a pie pan and cover with foil until you have all 8 tortillas prepared. Or if there are two of you one can cook the tortillas and one can fill and roll them!

Now you're ready to assemble the tacos. Spoon about 4 tablespoons of the mashed potatoes onto a tortilla. Spinkle on some corn and some of the jalepeno jack. Roll and place into a 9x13 pan seam side down. Repeat with the remaining tortillas.

Put tacos in oven for 15 minutes until they are just starting to crisp up. While they are in the oven you can throw together the slaw.

3. Lime cilantro slaw

Grab a small and medium sized bowl and the following ingredients:
1/2 head green cabbage, shredded
1/2 cup cilantro leaves, chopped coursely, large stems removed
1 lime
olive oil
Salt and Pepper

Squeeze the juice of 1 lime into a small bowl (or even a little jar). Whisk in an equal amount of olive oil, then salt and pepper to taste (about 1/2 teaspoon of each).

Toss together the cabbage and chopped cilantro in your medium bowl. Add about one half of the dressing and toss again. You may add more if you feel it is too dry.

Take the tacos out of the oven and plate up a couple of tacos, a large scoop of black beans and the slaw on the side. Garnish the tacos with whatever you have on hand: a few sprigs of cilantro, some extra cheese, black olives... And enjoy!

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