The west coast gets me. Gluten free beer ON TAP. Separate gluten free menus. Explicit knowledge of what is actually in the food I am eating. I have never found wait staff so willing to help find food that I can eat.
It’s nice to feel like someone cares. Like you’re not in this alone. It’s funny how simple gestures can be the most profound.
Our first day in san francisco was exhausting. We walked for miles. I got grumpy (unavoidable when I have inadequate sleep and/or food. In this case both). I was in search of Cafe Gratitude. What we found was Gracias Madre, a sister restaurant, and I didn’t hide the fact that I was pissed. Until we got inside.
We caught the last moments of happy hour, and I was brought a $3 glass of organic sangria, with fruit from a local farm. The farm where they grow ALL of their produce. All organic, all vegan, all sustainable, mostly gluten free goodness. When that sangria hit the table I felt my shoulders relax and my temper settle. I was suddenly home. Because I love mexican food, but generally end up ordering off the a la carte menu, still wondering if I am doing some harm to my body. Not here. Here I was safe in a delicious blanket of nourishment.
This is a long story to say that we returned to Gracias Madre on our last day in San Francisco. It was that good. And I came home on a mission to recreate their seasonal vegetable tacos.
My first attempt, in all humility, was pretty damn good. Jump below the photo for the recipe.
(at Gracias Madre for the second time)
Farmer’s Market Tacos with Cashew Cheese Sauce (dinner for two)
Because I don’t currently have a productive garden I call these Farmer’s Market tacos, as this was the source for my vegetables. Note that this is not a quick meal to prepare, especially if you make the tortillas yourself, which I highly recommend. Each element takes time and attention, but it is well worth it.
The beauty of these tacos, like the rest of the menu at Gracias Madre, is that the vegetables can change with the seasons. Use summer or winter squash, broccoli, different peppers, or even try roasting fruit (peaches, yum!) depending on what season you are in. Keep it simple, and nourishing, and local. Love the food you eat.
6-8 handmade corn tortillas (in lieu of a tortilla press I used two flexible cutting boards and my dutch oven)
6 medium collard leaves sliced into 3-4″ strips
1/4 yellow onion, diced
1 small serrano pepper, halved
1 small eggplant, cut into 1/2″ rounds
salt & pepper
1/2 cup cashew cheese sauce (see recipe below)
1 small handful raw pepita (pumpkin) seeds
salsa verde for serving
- Preheat oven to 500F
- If you haven’t ahead of time, prepare your cashew cheese sauce
- Place eggplant on an oiled pan, brush with a coat of olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste
- Roast eggplant in oven, approximately 5-7 minutes per side
- Once eggplant is in, heat 1 tbsp. olive oil in a large pan over medium high heat
- Saute the onion with a bit of salt and pepper in the heated oil
- Add the serrano pepper and greens, bring heat down to low and cover, stirring frequently until greens are wilted and tender, approximately 7-10 minutes. Don’t forget about the eggplant!
- Remove the greens from heat, and discard the serrano pepper. Keep covered until ready to plate
- When the eggplant is finished, remove from oven and dice into 1/2″ cubes
- In a smaller oiled pan individually heat the corn tortillas
To assemble the tacos, place the heated tortillas flat on large serving plates. Place a small amount of one of the fillings on each tortilla, and drizzle on desired amount of cashew cheese sauce. Sprinkle pepita seeds over the tacos with sauteed greens. Serve with a side of organic refried black beans. Rice could also be served, but we find the tacos and beans to be more than filling. Keep salsa verde and extra cashew cheese sauce on the table with the meal.
Cashew Cheese Sauce (thanks to Cafe Gratitude for the base recipe)
1 cup raw cashews, soaked
1/3 tsp salt
1 1/2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup filtered water
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (or to taste)
Place ingredients in a high speed blender and blend for 1 minute. Taste for flavor and texture, and adjust accordingly. I had to blend mine several times before I got away from the grainy texture of the cashews, but I also don’t have the best blender.
I hope you enjoy as much as we did!