If there is one thing I know for certain in this life it’s that if my mom wants my sister to come for dinner all mom must do is say, “I’m making tacos” and my sister will be there. What is it about tacos that make them so beloved? And, what about salsa? It would seem almost criminal to have one and not the other. I can’t answer for my sister but speaking for myself, tacos represent the best of all possible meal options. Part DIY, with both fresh and cooked elements, tacos and salsa always taste delicious. To be honest, I can’t ever remember having a bad one. Seriously! Tacos are a very equal opportunity meal — suitable for almost any dietary need. Tacos offer a real way for anyone to have a favourite type and to enjoy them how’d they’d like.
So, is it any wonder that I was excited to receive the Salsas and Tacos by Susan D. Curtis from The Santa Fe School of Cooking? This compact 7″x 7″ cookbook offers over 50 different recipes to suit most taco cravings. The recipes are organized into 3 main sections: Spicy Salsas for Toppings and Dips, Taco Fillings Bold on Taste, and, Extras. At the beginning of the cookbook a brief explanation with a description of important ingredients is given and at the end of the book a short list of resources is offered to help aid in finding ingredients which may be more challenging to source.
Cooking through Salsas and Tacos I’ve found that the relative heat or spiciness of a recipe is easily tailored to your personal taste. My family, for example, prefers a very mild take on anything spicy, so I was able to make each recipe with this in mind. What I appreciate the most about this book is how much flavour is in the recipes. Take the Tropical Fruit Salsa, for example, it’s full of bright, ripe papaya, pineapple, and mangos which is complimented by zest and juice from three different types of citrus along with mint, cilantro and ginger. This salsa tastes like summer! I found that this recipe really suited my 5-year-old well because it was almost like a fruit salad but with some umami and savory elements. We enjoyed it with some of the Guacamole (also made from a recipe in the book) and corn tortilla chips.
I found that the salsa section was more plant-based friendly than the chapter on taco fillings. Since I cook for my family of vegetarians, I’m always looking to see how many or which recipes are vegetarian. Out of the 20 filling recipes within this chapter 6 are vegetarian or vegan (with one of these being a recipe for a dessert taco filling). And, of the 5 savoury fillings, none of them included any type of pulse in the ingredient list. No beans of any sort, which, to be honest, surprised me. However, the vegetarian fillings rely on ingredients such as: squash, corn, potatoes, mushrooms, eggplant, spinach, and bell peppers. I made the recipe for Roasted Wild Mushroom Tacos w/ Queso Fresco and they were delicious! In this taco, the mushrooms are the star as there isn’t any other big ingredients. The mushrooms offer a meaty and satisfying texture.
Ingredients are easy to source, and I think that these recipes are flexible enough that you can omit or substitute ingredients where you see fit. As I mentioned before my husband and daughter prefer very mild dishes and I was able to accommodate them. With spring starting and summer not too far off, I think that this cookbook will be an asset when the CSA boxes start up or more produce starts to fill out farmer’s market stalls. With the salsa ingredients — the fresher and more vibrant the better!
My daughter and I also tried making Flour Tortillas to use in the Apple Pie Tacos recipe. While I own a small tortilla press, I found that rolling them was just as easy and my daughter loved the practice. Although I haven’t tried it yet, there is a recipe for Corn Tortillas that would be great for anyone that follows a gluten-free diet. The Apple Pie Tacos — warm apple filling nestled into a butter-crisped tortilla sprinkled with powdered sugar and cinnamon and topped with a dollop of whipped cream — were an enormous hit and such an easy dessert to put together.
Whether you’re looking to add to your Taco Tuesday (or even Meatless Monday) repertoire or just interested in using fresh and vibrant fruits and vegetables in different ways then this would be a good cookbook for you. I know that I’ll be using this as a primary resource for salsa recipes.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Raincoast Books and Gibbs Smith for providing me with a free, review copy of this book. I did not receive monetary compensation for my post, and all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.