They called me quirky growing up. Repeatedly. I just assumed they meant to say funny. Miss Sharp, my first grade teacher, reserved the last 10 minutes of class for me to do stand up. Everyday. I thought I was funny, but now I know she was probably just tired of standing up. I’ve never been good at delivering punch lines, and I can’t imagine I was any better at age 6. They meant what they said.
It took designing a house and having a couple solicited consults with friends for the stars to align. I am quirky. But mostly I’m a minimalist. It’s in the marrow of my bones. I like modern lines and cozy accents. But only a couple accents. I keep 24 spices in my cabinet at a time. I like my dry goods in glass jars so I can easily find and restock them. I make just enough food for dinner. I’m working on fixing that. I wear a uniform. Four shirts that look nearly identical, two pair of the same yoga pants, and two different pairs of jeans (only because I couldn’t find two of the same). I’m at my worst the day after Christmas leading up to New Years. I want to throw it all away. Too much stuff suffocates me. (If we ever meet then, can I get a do-over?) I prefer to live with just enough and no more. I’m a natural born minimalist. Some days it’s a curse.
I got to hang out with some of the best over Christmas, Alex and Sonja from A Couple Cooks. They fluffed my quirky ego and let me talk about minimalism in great detail in their latest podcast: Getting Minimalist in the Kitchen. I’ve fallen in love with their podcast during my workouts. Alex and Sonja know their stuff yet somehow they manage to make food so approachable. That’s one of the many reasons I love them. Here’s an excerpt from the podcast, “I’ve been one who over complicates things. It seems like the right thing to do. But I find that my best dishes, my happiest moments, are minimalist moments.” We go macro and micro and laugh a little too. Give it a listen?
Alongside the podcast, they shared 10 simple weeknight recipes. I’m adding #11 to that list: Vegetarian Tacos. We’ve been making these on repeat the last couple of weeks. We’re not vegetarians (though Hallie would tell you otherwise), but most days we eat a vegetarian diet. Usually once during this meal I say in shock, and very deliberately, “These are so good.” They are. The taco “meat” is a mixture of quinoa and black beans cooked the same way I cook traditional taco meat, with a little ketchup. It’s a trick I learned from my mother-in-law. Use organic if you can swing it. It sounds so weird, but it’s as charming as a taco can be and clocks in under 30 minutes. Sweet, salty, spicy. Make these.
Vegetarian taco “meat” made from quinoa and black beans. It’s a tiny bit on the sweet side, but when combined with everything, it’s so excellent. This is just a recipe for the filling. Add seasonal toppings to your hearts desire!
3/4 c. quinoa
1 1/2 c. water
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
15 oz. can BPA-free black beans, drained and rinsed
scant 1/4 c. organic ketchup
3 tbsp. water
1 clove garlic, minced
3/4 tsp. cumin
3/4 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/4 tsp. lemon pepper
Sriracha, to taste
In a saucepan, combine quinoa, water, and salt. Bring to a boil. Cover and cook on low for 15 minutes or until water is absorbed.
Remove from heat. Stir in remaining ingredients. If you have taco seasoning on hand, forgo the individual spices and add 2 1/4 tsp. taco seasoning. Heat for about 5 minutes on medium-low heat. Taste and adjust seasonings. More than likely, you’ll need a bit more salt and heat. Serve in hard or soft taco shells and top as you wish.