Week 17: Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Tacos

Happy first week of fall, everyone! I love that we can witness and experience the change of seasons in our food shares each week – the arrival of spinach and napa cabbage, and the graceful exit of cilantro is a sure-fire sign of autumn. I LOVE cilantro (I see those sneers, cilantro-haters), and so I decided to make a fun meal that celebrated our last harvest of this delightful herb. But if you happen to be one of those cilantro-antagonists or simply don’t have cilantro on hand – don’t worry! This meal can be done without cilantro and still be as delightful as ever. It also celebrates the spinach and napa cabbage, so you can focus on that instead.

As the blog title suggests, this is a choose-your-own-adventure kind of taco meal. I have provided two recipes that can serve as the main filling – Roasted Veg and Black Beans as the vegan/vegetarian option, and Beef and Veg for meat-lovers. I also provide two recipes that will add the necessary acidity and brightness to your tacos – Napa Cabbage and Spinach Slaw (my favoured recipe this week) and Cilantro Yogurt. All of these recipes are optional – choose which ones sound good to you, or best suit your needs. If you’re looking to make this meal in under 30 minutes, make the beef and veg and the napa and spinach slaw, and garnish with fresh tomatoes and cilantro. If you have a bit more time, make the roasted veg, the cilantro yogurt, and the slaw. And, if you have time and want lots of food for the next couple of days, make them all! You then have for yourself some delicious lunches.

I made all four recipes and piled everything onto corn tortillas and topped with fresh tomatoes. For my lunches, I’m simply forgoing the tortillas and having a “taco bowl” type meal, with shredded spinach, fresh tomatoes, and extra cilantro ( 😉 ).

More Magnificent Meal Musings:

  • Persian Spinach Yogurt (I was VERY close to making this recipe for the blog – Samin Nosrat has a version that looks great)
  • Baked Eggs with Potatoes, Tomatoes, Onion, and Spinach/Kale
  • Tofu Akuri Scramble with Potatoes, Onions, Tomatoes, and Cilantro
  • Spinach and Lemon Baguette (from Take One Veg, found at https://www.deliciousmagazine.co.uk/recipes/spinach-and-lemon-baguette/)
  • Roasted Squash and Carrot Soup with a Basil Pesto Drizzle
  • Veg Stew with Potato, Carrot, Onion, and Spinach
  • Ribollita with Napa Cabbage and Carrot

Roasted Veg and Black Beans

This dish is simple in principle and hearty in flavour. If you don't have squash you can sub in sweet potato and even regular potato. I used a yellow onion but it would be delightful with a red onion. The point is that you have a whole heap of veg and black beans with a wonderful medley of textures and flavours.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes


  • 1 squash (I used butternut), peeled, seeded, and cubed
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1-2 sweet peppers, cut into 1/2 inch wide strips, about 1-2 inches long
  • 1 can black beans pinto beans could also be used
  • 2 Tbsp neutral cooking oil
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin powder
  • salt, to taste
  • 1 cup shredded spinach optional


  1. Preheat oven to 400. Toss the squash, pepper, onion, oil, and spices into a 9×13 inch pan. Place in oven and set timer for 30 minutes. Stir occasionally.

  2. At the 30 minute mark, add the can of drained and rinsed black beans and stir. Set the timer for another 10-15 minutes.

  3. Remove from oven – everything should be cooked, and the squash should have a creamy texture when stirred, while still mostly holding it's shape. At this point you can add the optional spinach – this is a great option if you don't plan on making the slaw, as it adds nice colour and nutrition to round out the meal.

  4. Serve immediately with napa and spinach slaw, cilantro yogurt, and fresh tomatoes on a corn tortilla.

Beef and Veg

This is a great non-vegan option for the main filling of the taco – and in fact, the taco is delicious with BOTH the roasted veg and this meat dish. The prep for this is very simple, and it cooks quite quickly, so if you eat meat and your pinched for time – this is the recipe to go for!

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes


  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cup tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 package Doublejay ground beef (or other package of ground beef, but trust me, their's is the best!)
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, crushed and finely chopped
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp coriander powder
  • salt, to taste


  1. Heat a pan over medium-high heat. Once warmed, add enough oil to lightly coat the bottom. Add the onion, and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the onion starts to become translucent and show some brown edges.

  2. Add the ground beef and spices and stir. Turn the heat down to medium/ low-medium. Allow to cook, stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes and garlic, and continue cooking for about another 5 minutes, or until the beef is fully cooked and the tomatoes have broken down.

  3. Serve immediately with the napa and spinach slaw, cilantro yogurt, and fresh tomatoes on a corn tortilla.

Napa Cabbage and Spinach Slaw

This slaw is a pop of beautiful colour and a zip of flavour. It adds a wonderful crunch to the tacos and a hit of acidity to balance out the richness of the roasted veg and/or beef and veg. I loved this slaw so much that I plan on eating it with dishes other than tacos, simply as a side or paired with grain/veg bowls,

Prep Time 5 minutes


  • 6 napa cabbage leaves, finely sliced I cut the leaves in half lengthwise and then sliced as finely as possible
  • 1 1/2 cups spinach, finely chopped in thin strips
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 2 Tbsp cilantro, finely chopped
  • salt, to taste
  • 1 pinch chili flakes, or finely chopped fresh hot pepper


  1. Toss all ingredients together in a bowl. Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve with tacos, or simply eat straight from the bowl.

Cilantro Yogurt

This is an all-in-one sauce, adding creaminess and that delicious cilantro flvaour to your whole taco. If you don't want to do this extra step, simply use chopped cilantro and plain yogurt as a garnish. But I like this version because of the beautiful colour of the sauce, and the simplicity of then tossing it in a jar in the fridge, and putting it on top of everything (think salads, grain bowls, pitas).

Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes


  • 1 cup thick yogurt (greek or skyr)
  • 1 cup cilantro, leaves and stems
  • 1 tsp lime zest
  • 1 Tbsp lime juice
  • salt, to taste
  • small pinch cayenne powder optional


  1. Add al of the ingredients to a blender or food processor. Pulse until the cilantro is chopped and fully incorporated in to the yogurt, and the sauce takes on a lovely bright green colour. Taste and adjust seasoning. Store in the fridge up to 3 days.