Looking for vegetable recipes to go with tacos
November 7, 2013 9:28 AM   Subscribe

Foodies of MeFi: I need new side dishes to make for taco night! Difficulty: vegetables, but not corn, beans, green salad, or squash.

So....what do you make to go with your tacos besides rice and beans? Corn's great, but I feel like I fall back on that too often. My google-fu ia failing; all my internet searching turns up variations on corn, black beans, and calabacitas (which no one here particularly likes). I've made rajas con crema/con queso a time or two, but feel like it's a bit too heavy as a side. What would a Mexican mama cook for her family? It's not always the Three Sisters, is it?
posted by Janta to Food & Drink (29 answers total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
Mashed sweet potatoes are great with Mexican food.
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:30 AM on November 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

Coleslaw - something like this.
posted by something something at 9:34 AM on November 7, 2013 [8 favorites]

grilled onions
sliced radishes with salt and lime
posted by phunniemee at 9:38 AM on November 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

The small fancy Mexican place near me currently has 2 salads on the menu:
Mango-Jicama salad with Cucumber, Pumpkin Seeds, and Citrus Vin
Blood Orange Kumquat Salad with lettuce, cucumber, and citrus vin

They also have slaws on many of the tacos similar to what something something suggested.

I personally do pretty basic tomato & avocado salads, but I suppose it depends what's already on the taco.
posted by brainmouse at 9:39 AM on November 7, 2013

Maybe not quite a side dish, buy what about pickled red onions and salted radishes?
posted by bcwinters at 9:40 AM on November 7, 2013 [2 favorites]

Gazpacho goes along great with tacos.
posted by chrisalbon at 9:41 AM on November 7, 2013

Seconding slaw. You could also try pickled vegetables.
posted by amarynth at 9:42 AM on November 7, 2013

[please read OPs list of "no" items, thanks.]
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:48 AM on November 7, 2013

A tossed salad.

Roasted Asperagus


Stewed Tomatoes (tart them up with mexican oregano, a dash of chipotle or whatever you like.)

Avocado and tomato salad with vinaigrette

I also really like the Slaw idea.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:49 AM on November 7, 2013

Oven-roasted okra would be a yummy addition. In winter when okra is out of season I use bagged frozen okra. It's still delicious.
posted by workerant at 9:58 AM on November 7, 2013

My local place takes jalapenos, cuts off the tops and removes the seeds and stuffs them with a mix of cream cheese, sour cream, onion, and minced mushrooms. Then they grill them. Way better than your typical 'popper'.

Some interesting looking tomatillo recipes here.
posted by plinth at 10:00 AM on November 7, 2013

This would also be good, especially with fish tacos or if your salsa is fruity.

Orange-Scented Broccoli
(Appetite for Reduction, Isa Chandra Moskowitz)


1 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp minced fresh ginger
3 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 bunch broccoli (about 1¼ pounds), stems thinly sliced, tops cut into florets
1 tbsp mirin
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp orange zest
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice


Preheat a large skillet over medium heat. Saute the ginger in the oil for about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and saute for a minute more. Use nonstick cooking spray or a splash of water if things are sticking.

Add the broccoli, mirin, and soy sauce. Saute for around 7 more minutes, tossing frequently, until the stalks are tender. Add the zest and orange juice, and saute for a minute more.
Serve immediately.
posted by something something at 10:05 AM on November 7, 2013 [3 favorites]

Do jicama julienned in some sort of citrus juice (I like a combination of orange and lime) plus a little salt, sugar, and whichever herb you're using in your tacos (cilantro, probably.) You can toss in a dice of whatever green veggie is good at the moment. Peppers, okra, green beans, whatever. For some of them you might want to blanch them, or grill them if you've got one and the time to let them cool before tossing with the jicama. Awesome and crunchy, sweet and refreshing.

I also really like greens (kale, collards, whatever leafy cooking greens are freshest) quickly wilted in a pan with a vinegar dressing and garlic. A good textural counterpoint if you do crispy taco shells. The actually-Mexican place around the corner does these greens with almost everything and it somehow works.

I've seen half bell peppers (you could do another big hot pepper like an anaheim?) with scoops of things like mushroom, onion and zucchini fillings, done under the broiler, with queso fresco on top.
posted by Mizu at 10:05 AM on November 7, 2013

Is chayote too squash-like for you? I think it's got a firmer texture and it's great pan sautéed a little.
posted by jquinby at 10:16 AM on November 7, 2013 [2 favorites]

What about tortilla soup? Main ingredients are veggies (tomatoes, chillies, avocado) and you can add whatever fun toppings like cheese and tortillas that you like. It's not a "vegetable side dish" in the traditional sense but meets your criteria...
posted by Pomo at 10:20 AM on November 7, 2013

I would probably do a slaw but it also depends on what kind of tacos?
posted by hrj at 10:26 AM on November 7, 2013

Awesome, easy side dish: core and de-seed a few green and red bell peppers, cut into strips. Toss with some oil and a few packets of Sazon Goya (it's Mexico in tiny-foil-pouch form!). Put on a foil-lined baking sheet and broil in the oven until they're starting to get black and blister-y. Scrape into a bowl and stir in some full-fat sour cream (as much or as little as you like). It's SO much more than the sum of its parts... rich, smoky, creamy, slippery, hearty, juicy, wonderful.
posted by julthumbscrew at 10:32 AM on November 7, 2013 [6 favorites]

Roast cauliflower is really easy and goes great with Mexican food. Cut up a cauliflower into florets, toss it liberally with olive oil, salt and pepper, put it in a single layer on a baking sheet and cook in a 425 degree oven for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. You can even toss it with some cayenne when you're done to spice it up a bit more.
posted by carrolldamian at 10:34 AM on November 7, 2013

hrj: they're shredded chicken tacos (more tex-mex than authentic: puree a can of rotel with some cumin, smoked paprika, and a bit of water; pour over boneless skinless chicken thighs; cook over medium-low heat until falling apart).

These are all great suggestions, keep 'em coming!
posted by Janta at 10:42 AM on November 7, 2013

I'm a big fan of this Salpicon de Hongos (Marinated Mushrooms) recipe.

I skip the soft cheese and serve it sort of warmish.

2 tbsp cooking oil
1 x clove garlic
250g mushrooms, sliced thickly (8oz)
1 medium onion, sliced
1 x carrot, sliced finely
2 sticks celery, sliced crossways
1 x green pepper, de-seeded and sliced
1 x chilli, chopped finely
1/2 x lime or lemon, juice of
1 x chicken stock cube or a pinch of salt, (optional)
A pinch of sugar
A pinch of ground black pepper
6 sprigs fresh coriander, chopped finely
1 x 125g full fat soft cheese, (optional) (4oz)

Heat the oil in a heavy skillet and saute the garlic clove until dark golden. Discard the garlic clove, then saute the mushrooms, onion, carrot, celery, pepper and chilli for 5 minutes. Add the lime or lemon juice, crumbled stock cube, sugar, black pepper and coriander. Cover and simmer for a further 5 minutes. Serve cold.

To serve hot, add the soft cheese and use as filling for tortillas.
posted by ZipRibbons at 10:58 AM on November 7, 2013

kale chips but with spicy seasoning?
posted by St. Peepsburg at 11:04 AM on November 7, 2013

I made this side dish of chayotes yesterday from Simply Recipes. It was fast and easy and great with mushroom quesadillas.

Chayote with Tomato and Green Chile Recipe
1 pound chayotes (I used two)
6 ounces of roasted tomatoes (can use canned fire roasted tomatoes, or roast whole tomatoes on stovetop or under broiler until skin begins to blacken, do not remove skin but process whole (I tried to do this but it didn't work, just ended up as warm tomatoes)
1 clove garlic, chopped (obviously not enough, I used two)
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp chopped onion
1 large green Anaheim chile (stem and seeds removed and discarded), chopped (I used jalapenos because that's what I had)
Pinch red chile pepper flakes
1/4 cup water
Salt to taste
1/4 cup roughly chopped cilantro (forgot to add)
1/4 cup finely grated Monterey Jack cheese

1. The peel is tough and inedible when cooked, so peel the chayotes completely. (This may take a little doing, as the folds in the chayotes can make it difficult.) Cut the chayotes into 1/4-inch wide, 2 inch long julienned strips, including the core.

2. Purée the roasted tomatoes and the garlic in a blender, set aside.

3. Heat oil in a large skillet on medium heat. Add the chopped onion and green chiles. Cook on medium heat until just soft, about 3-4 minutes. Add the tomato mixture, red chile flakes, and continue to cook 3 minutes more. Add the chayote, water, and salt to taste. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally for 15 minutes. Add the chopped cilantro and cook for 5 minutes more. The chayote should be just tender, moist but not watery. (it seems to need a lot more time than this - another 10 minutes?)

4. Sprinkle with grated cheese and serve.
posted by hydrobatidae at 11:58 AM on November 7, 2013

I make hot carrots to go with tacos. Heat up some vinegar, oil, sugar, and hot pepper flakes on the stove to a simmer. Throw in some carrot coins. Simmer for about a minute, just enough to take the edge off of the rawness. Take off the stove and throw in some cilantro. Put in the fridge. The cold, vinegary crunch is a nice counterpoint to the tacos and you make them ahead of time, so, it's pretty easy.
posted by Foam Pants at 11:59 AM on November 7, 2013

Splitting the difference between the numerous slaw reccos and the hella-trad pickled vegetables: I often get raves when I serve a Salvadorean curtido next to Mexican foods.
posted by BrunoLatourFanclub at 12:04 PM on November 7, 2013

I'm not sure if you're avoiding beans because somebody can't eat beans, or you are tired of serving Beans: The Dish. If the latter, I'd recommend succotash-- it has corn kernels, and it tolerates beans (all kinds of beans, some of which don't do great by themselves).

You can midwest it up with green beans, or fire it deep into the southwest with some cactus. It tolerates tinkering, in my experience. (Eventually you get to the point where someone from Santa Fe would slap you, but they'd still eat.)
posted by Sunburnt at 1:47 PM on November 7, 2013

Roast up some plantains!
posted by thirdletter at 3:58 PM on November 7, 2013

OK, we wound up having the bell peppers with Sazon and crema -- fabulous! My husband couldn't get enough of it. I also did a really simple slaw of red cabbage, cilantro, and lime juice. Next time around I'm going to try the kale, the carrots, and, well, pretty much everything else.
posted by Janta at 4:43 PM on November 7, 2013

For a bit of international fusion, Greek tzatziki would go great with tacos. Here's a recipe, and here's another, but it's totally customizable. At our house we use all strained yogurt (no sour cream), with olive oil, garlic paste (we do it with mortar and pestle), and chopped cucumbers (no dill, vinegar, or lemon). If we don't have cucumbers but still crave tzatziki, we've used chopped fresh green pepper or chopped cabbage.

And as long as I'm thinking about it, melitzana salata (eggplant salad) would be really great, too. Again, a recipe you can adjust to fit your tastes, but if you char the eggplant on the grill or in the oven, then cover and let sit a bit and peel most of the skin (there will be little charred bits that linger, and this is a very good thing) before chopping it up for the salad, it is AMAZING. The smoky taste this adds is so fantastic that I just think of the melitzana salata as a delivery system for this flavor. (I pretty much make mine the way the recipe I linked specifies, but I use more garlic – paste again – and more olive oil, not a lot of tomato, and no onion; I usually use wine vinegar instead of lemon, and often I add pine nuts or crushed walnuts.)

These are two dishes that seem to vanish before your eyes as they are gobbled up. Much as I try, I don't think I've ever been able to make enough to actually have leftovers for next day noms.
posted by taz at 12:27 AM on November 8, 2013

Sadie's in Albuquerque serves cubed fried potatoes instead of rice with their dishes.
posted by brujita at 10:27 AM on November 8, 2013

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