Butternut squash, kale, and crunchy pepitas taco
I’ll never forget the day I met Sara Deseran. I was in the full time professional program at San Francisco Cooking School and Sara came in as part of a panel on food media. Sara was the editor-at-large at San Francisco Magazine, which explains the food media connection, but she’s also the co-owner of Tacolicious with her husband Joe Hargrave, which is why I turned into a borderline stalker upon meeting her. As the panel was wrapping up Sara put it out there that she was beginning work on the Tacolicious cookbook. She mentioned that seeing how she was at a culinary school she should probably try to find a recipe tester. Looking back I should probably be a bit embarrassed at how I flung myself at Sara, but I am a serious Tacolicious fan and I was ready to do just about anything to be their recipe tester. She was so kind, we exchanged info and that’s how my time with the T-lish family and some beautiful friendships began.
The Tacolicious cookbook holds a special place in my heart as it’s where my interest in recipe testing really blossomed. In order to properly recipe test you have to totally put your ideas and ego aside and follow the recipe you’ve been given with total precision. The point as a tester isn’t to make something taste good, the point is to give the recipe writer feedback and let them know if what they gave you works, makes sense for home cooks, is correct in terms of quantity and then you can give them your subjective feedback as to whether or not it was successful. Sara is an incredible recipe writer and has several other cook books under her belt, so the recipes came to me in great shape, but she was really open minded to the critiques I offered up. It was a lovely collaboration and seeking out some of the more unusual ingredients at the various bodegas in the Mission made it a total adventure. I was even invited into the Tacolicious kitchen for a lesson in tamale making from the master, Virginia Hinojosa, so that I was able to properly test the recipe and give feedback on how to describe the process of making them for the home cook.
The more I got to know the process and the people behind Tacolicious, the more my love for the food grew, which is why I was so honored when Sara asked me to contribute a recipe to the book. She was interested in adding a vegan taco to the mix that would appeal to carnivores and veggie lovers alike. Um, yes! I decided to make a flavorful and slightly spicy filling of butternut squash and kale with crunchy pepitas and a rich and tangy vegan cashew lime crema. Sara and Ten Speed press have been kind enough to allow me to share it with you here, but do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of the book. If you’re in San Francisco, Omnivore Books is the place.
Thanks so much to my friends at Tacolicious – Sara, Joe, Telmo, Mike… the list goes on. I adore you guys and am so thrilled to have been a part of this! Also a big shout out to the talented Emma Campion and her crew at Ten Speed Press for making such an amazing book. Then there’s the amazingly gifted Alex Farnum who shot the book as well as the stylist, Christine Wolheim who made everything look so delicious.