Cooking with Johannes: Taco Tuesday

In celebration of Cinco de Mayo, a Mexican-inspired feast that's also easy to make.

Thank you all for your fabulous feedback on Johannes's pesto recipe! Inspired by your comments and support, I asked Johannes share recipes for what's become a weekly tradition at home. Lately, we've taken to having themed evenings to add some spice to the dinner table, and one of my favorites has been "Taco Tuesdays."

While some may think that tacos can be heavy (especially when filled with lots of sauce), it's all about balancing the right flavors. This spin is a delicious meal that balances proteins, carbs, and veggies, which all get a jolt of brightness from fresh lemon and Bibb lettuce. Johannes keeps things light with grilled chicken, and while I could eat that all on its own, he's mastered a yummy and healthy vegetable salad, salsa fresca, and guacamole, too. These three recipes make for the perfect toppings to snack on even after we've cleared the dishes.

Guacamole Ingredients
- 3 tbsp of chopped onions
- 1/2 tsp minced Serrano chili
- 1 1/2 tsp of finely chopped cilantro leaves
- 1/2 tsp of salt
- 1 small vine-ripened tomato
- 1 ripe avocado

Guacamole Recipe:
(adapted from here)
- In a medium-size bowl (or mortar) mash 1 tbsp of the onion with the chili, 1/2 tsp of cilantro, and the salt to make a paste.
- Cut the tomato in half horizontally and squeeze out the juice and seeds and throw away. Chop the pulp and add it to the bowl.
- Cut the avocado in half lengthwise, cutting around the pit. Twist the top half of the avocado off to separate the halves and carefully tap the pit with the edge of a sharp knife and twist it out. 
- Using a paring knife slice the avocado flesh of both halves lengthwise, then crosswise, cutting down to the skin, to form a grid. 
- Scoop the avocado into the bowl with a spoon.
- Add the remaining onion and cilantro to the bowl, and gently fold all the ingredients together.
- Season with extra chili or salt, to taste if desired.

Lightly Pan-Seared Vegetables Ingredients:
1 lb of vegetables of your choice (Johannes used broccoli, carrots, chickpeas, corn, garbanzo beans, peppers, onion, tomatoes for a tasty veggie mix)
- 1 to 2 tbsp grapeseed oil, olive oil, or your favorite cooking oil
- A pinch of kosher salt, to taste
- 1 lemon, halved (for brightness and acidity)

Lightly Pan-Seared Vegetables Recipe:
(adapted from here)
- Rinse the vegetables under cool water, dry them thoroughly, and chop them into bite-sized pieces.
- Add just enough oil to line the bottom of the pan with a thin coating. Since this method requires cooking at high heat, use an oil that has a higher smoke point like grapeseed oil (olive oil will also work).
- When the oil begins to shimmer, add the vegetables to the pan. 
- Dust salt over the vegetables and lay half a lemon cut-side down on the bottom of the pan.
- Cover the pan with a lid and let the vegetables cook without stirring for two minutes.
- Transfer the vegetables to a serving platter and squeeze the other lemon half over the vegetables.

Salsa Fresca Ingredients:
- 1/4 small white or red onion, minced
- 1 tsp of red wine vinegar
- 1 lb fresh, ripe tomatoes, finely chopped
- 1 to 3 jalapeño or serrano chiles, minced, to taste (remove seeds, if you would like a milder salsa)
- 4 tbsp of chopped fresh cilantro (add more to taste if preferred)
- 1 to 3 tsp of fresh lime juice (optional)
- A dash of salt, to taste.

Salsa Fresca Recipe:
(adapted from here)
- Place minced onion in a bowl and cover with cold water. 
- Add vinegar and rest for 5 minutes or longer. 
- Drain and rinse with cold water.
- In a medium-sized bowl, combine the remaining ingredients and stir in onions. Leave at room temperature for 15 to 30 minutes before serving so that the flavors will be bold and rich.

Photo: @johanneshuebl
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