Talking About Tacos

tacos1While there is always reason to eat a delicious taco, today you should make an extra effort because it is taco day!  Beginning in the 18th century, tacos were an important part of the Mexican diet.  While the origins are unclear, it is believed that tacos came from the silver mines in Mexico.  The word “taco” refers to small charges (little pieces of paper) that the miners would use to evacuate the ore.  They would wrap these papers around gunpowder and put them into the holes that they carved into the surface of the rock.

With this in mind, the tacos that you eat today are very different than the actual tacos from the 18th century mining days (essentially explosions waiting to happen), but anyone who has eaten a great taco will tell you that a taco can be an explosion of flavor! Typically, tacos are a combination of protein and vegetables in a hard or soft shell tortilla, but there are so many spin offs of the traditional taco for you to try!  Here are just a couple:

One Pot Taco Rice Skillet

Ingredients

½ onion, diced

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 ½ cups instant brown rice (uncooked)

½ packet low sodium taco seasoning

2 cups low sodium chicken broth

14 oz salsa

1 cup frozen corn

1 cup low sodium canned black beans, drained and rinsed

1 tomato, diced

¾ cup shredded Mexican blend cheese

1 green onion, chopped

Directions: Add one tablespoon of olive oil to a large, deep skillet on medium- high heat.  Add the diced onion and cook until it is soft and translucent.   Move the onion aside and drizzle in the rest of the olive oil in the empty part.  Add the uncooked rice and stir to toast it.   Add the taco seasoning, chicken broth, salsa, corn and black beans.  Gently stir and let the liquids come to a simmer before reducing the heat to low.  Cover and cook for about 18 minutes, or until the rice is fully cooked and the liquid has absorbed.  Add the tomato and cheese over the rice and cover for another 2 minutes, until the cheese melts.  Sprinkle the green onion on top, serve, and enjoy!  Serves 4-5 people.

Sautéed Tilapia Tacos 

Ingredients:

½ teaspoon paprika

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper

¼ teaspoon garlic powder

¼ teaspoon cumin

3 5oz tilapia filets, thawed, washed and dried

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 Roma tomato, chopped

1 small yellow onion, chopped

1 bell pepper, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

2 green onions, chopped

1 lime

4 wheat tortillas

1 avocado, diced

2 tablespoons shredded cheese

Directions:  Mix together the paprika, salt, crushed red pepper, garlic powder, and cumin into a small bowl.  Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil a medium sized frying pan on medium heat.  Dust one side of the tilapia filets with the spice mixture and place the seasoned side down in the hot oil.  Dust the top side of the tilapia with some more seasoning.  Let tilapia cook for 4 minutes, then use tongs to flip once.  Let cook for another 4 minutes and place cooked filets on a serving platter.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large frying pan.  Add onions and garlic and cook for 3 minutes. Add peppers and cook for 5 more minutes.  Lastly add tomato and cook for 5 more minutes.  Place mixture on serving platter around fish.  Top entire platter with green onions.  Squeeze the juice of half of the lime over the entire dish.  Slice the other half into 6 pieces and scatter around the platter.

In a tortilla, add some avocado, fish and vegetables.  Top with a sprinkle of cheese, squeeze of lime juice, fold up the tortilla, and enjoy!  Serves 2-4.

These recipes are good to try if you’re looking for something different than your classic ground beef taco!  Enjoy them with your roommates on “Taco Tuesday” and share some photos with @foodieoncampus on Instagram and Twitter.  Tacos are a quick, easy, delicious, and satisfying meal to eat anytime, anywhere.  Go celebrate National Taco Day tonight!

Photo Credit: Jennifer Collins and Melissa Heller

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