What’s a taco party without some killer sides? I am of the opinion that salsas, sauces and greens are just as important as the proteins filling your tortilla. Fortunately, taco toppings are about as easy to prepare as can be, so long as you’ve stocked up on your herbs and citrus!
For our recent dinner party, Jay labored over perfecting a wickedly tasty habanero salsa and guacamole. On my end, I decided to pickle that and recreate those mouthwateringly acidic carrots and jalapenos served at taquerias.
I’ve only recently started using vinegar in my cooking and it’s been a revelation — but, all the same, I was intimidated by the thought of preserving things in a vinegar solution. I was legitimately ecstatic, however, to find that this whole picklin’ situation was nearly foolproof, yielding snappy, bright, tangy, spicy bites of flavor. Better yet, I reused the leftover components in a cabbage slaw, rounding out our taco bar perfectly. It brings me so much OCD-derived pleasure when dishes come together this seamlessly!
Pickled Mexican carrots
Recipe at Aida Mollenkamp
After the pickles soaked overnight (about 6 hours), I added about 1 1/2 cups of water to the mixture. I would recommend doing the same, as it tames the intensely fiery, vinegary bite of the pickle juice.
- 1 head of cabbage, quartered and sliced into thin 1/4″ strips
- 1/2 cup pickled red onion (see above)
- 1/2 cup pickle juice (see above)
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- In a very large mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients thoroughly. Serve chilled.
Jay let his tastebuds, rather than a printed recipe, guide his process, but I recommend using Alton Brown’s trusty recipe, found here.
Yellow tomato and cucumber salsa
This hardly needs a recipe — it’s so simple! I did, however, try to keep it as simple as possible, since the other taco bar options were so flavor-packed. This was a nice, refreshing counterpoint to have at the table.
- 3 yellow tomatoes, chopped into 1/4″ cubes
- 1 1/2 large Persian cucumber, chopped into 1/4″ cubes
- 1/4 bunch of cilantro, coarsely chopped
- Juice from 3 lemons
- Salt and pepper to taste
- In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients thoroughly. Adjust seasoning as necessary. Serve chilled.