Tacos are one of our go-to meals, especially when cooking for friends and family. It’s easy to cook up a big batch of fixings and let everyone help themselves at the table. After countless variations, we most often find ourselves coming back to this one. The smokiness of the seasoned mushrooms, the zing from the pickled red onions (+ jalapeños), the creaminess of the guacamole, and the freshness from the kale...it’s a tough combo to beat. Best of all, it comes together in under 30 minutes, which also makes it a near-perfect weeknight meal too. Leftovers keep well and make for a delicious (and jealousy inducing) work lunch the next day.
Now let’s taco ‘bout these smoky mushrooms, because every good taco starts with an epic filling. Sure, you can distract everyone with an array of pretty toppings, but the heart of the taco needs to be a good one. Mushrooms are one of our favorite taco fillings because they’re cheap, accessible, and provide a satisfying “meaty” flavor and texture to the dish (without trying too hard). Even our meat-eating friends comment on how they don’t feel like anything is “missing”. And that’s exactly how we like it.
When it comes to the type of mushroom to use in this taco, portobello mushrooms reign supreme. Mushrooms lose a lot of moisture and shrink down as they cook; so portobello mushrooms are one of the few varieties that are substantial enough to hold their own against punchy toppings. They’re still juicy after cooking, and have plenty of surface area for absorbing the delicious sauce. Smaller mushrooms on the other hand, while still yummy, are more likely to blend in with the toppings, rather than stand out as the star of the show.
The secret to infusing the mushrooms with both smoky and spicy flavors are chipotle peppers and adobo sauce. They’re packaged together in a small can, so you will cover a lot of ground with just one ingredient. If you’re worried about tracking it down, trust me when I say this it’s an easy one to find. Almost every grocery store sells at least one brand, and they’re usually found next to other Mexican ingredients. While you’re there, grab yourself a bag of tortillas too.
The rest of the components come together in a cinch. After a few taco dinners where I went a bit too wild with the toppings, I’ve since paired it down to just the essentials. It makes prep so much easier, and with all the poppin’ flavors, you really just need a few epic toppings (rather than 10 mediocre ones). If you’re making your own pickled onions, make those first. These Quick Pickled Onions can be eaten after sitting for only 30-45 minutes, but for best results, make them the night before. Thinly sliced kale is a great addition to the mushrooms. To soften the leaves, you’ll mix them with a bit of lime juice, and let them soften while you prepare the mushrooms. And since tacos - and life - just aren’t the same without avocados, guacamole is a no brainer. Homemade is the way we like it, so we’ve included the recipe for an easy 5 ingredient guac that uses all the same seasonings as the mushrooms. Alternatively you could substitute for your store-bought.
Smoky Mushroom Tacos
Smoky Mushroom Tacos
- 1 cup thinly sliced kale (lacinato or curly)
- 4 teaspoons grapeseed oil (or other neutral oil)
- 3 tablespoons lime juice, divided
- 1¼ lb Portobello mushrooms, sliced
- 1½ teaspoons cumin
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 tablespoon minced chipotle pepper + 2 tablespoons adobo sauce (from a can)
- 12 small corn tortillas (warmed)
- Quick Pickled Red Onions (and jalapenos, for garnish)
- Lime wedges (for squeezing)
- 2 avocados (pitted and peeled)
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- ¼ teaspoon cumin
- ¼ teaspoon onion powder
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 to 2 tablespoons cilantro (more for garnish, optional)
- Mix and refrigerate: Scoop avocado into a small bowl. Use a fork to mash until your desired consistency. Mix in lime juice, cumin, onion powder, salt, and cilantro (if using). Taste and adjust seasoning if needed. Cover and refrigerate (see note 1).
Smoky Mushroom Tacos
- Massage kale: In a small bowl, combine kale, 1 teaspoon of the oil, and 1 tablespoon of the lime juice. Rub the kale with your hands to coat. Set aside to soften.
- Cook mushrooms: Heat the remaining 3 teaspoons of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Scatter mushrooms into the hot oil, and cook until they're reduced by half and slightly browned, 6 to 8 minutes.
- Season mushrooms: Add cumin, onion powder, garlic powder and salt. Stir to coat. Add chipotle pepper and adobo sauce. Cook, stirring frequently, for 2 to 3 minutes to let the flavors meld. Stir in remaining 2 tablespoons of lime juice, and cook for 1 minute. Remove from heat.
- Serve: Serve mushrooms with the kale, warm tortillas, and guacamole. Garnish with quick pickled onions (and jalapenos), more cilantro, and lime wedges on the side.
- Storing guacamole: We like to press a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the guacamole, prior to refrigerating. The fresh lime juice helps delay oxidization (browning) too. If storing guacamole overnight, transfer guacamole to an airtight container, press a piece of plastic wrap on top, and seal with the lid. That said, guacamole is best enjoyed fresh.