Anna Jones’ Mexican party recipes | The Modern Cook | Food

My mind often drifts back to some tacos I ate from a roadside stall just over the Mexican border a couple of years back . We’d made a stop on our sweltering drive south, where a faded rainbow parasol sheltered two women turning out some of the best tacos I’ve eaten (and that’s a lot).

The key to their supreme tacos was a cauliflower ceviche (I suppose you could almost call it a pickle) that was scooped from a huge yellow lidded plastic jar with a thin metal slotted spoon on to every taco they served. It added crunch, acidity and heat all at once.

After dreaming of their tacos for years, I finally got round to trying to make it myself, and thankfully I got pretty close. They made quesadillas too, on their tiny plancha, dense with cheese; the ones I make at home tend to contain less cheese and more grated roots and mashed beans for more texture and interest.

In fact, this week’s quesadillas are vegan, using the first of the autumn squashes, with mole-inspired spices. I’ll be trying to pinpoint where that taco stand was for the rest of my days, but until then, I’ll eat these under a rainbow umbrella in my garden.

Cauliflower ceviche tacos

I like to serve this ceviche on tacos, but it works well as a salad or starter, too – add slices of avocado and grapefruit or orange instead of the guacamole and tacos. I topped my tacos with some marigolds from my neighbour’s garden (thanks Pat and Julie), but you don’t need to. For a heartier dinner, you could add some warmed pinto beans, too, but I like these just as they are.

Anna Jones’ cauliflower ceviche tacos.



Anna Jones’ cauliflower ceviche tacos.

Prep 20 min
Cook 40 min
Serves 4-6

For the ceviche
1 red onion, peeled and very finely chopped
1 cauliflower, sliced
1-2 jalapeños or green chilli, finely sliced
Juice of 3 unwaxed limes
2 tbsp tequila
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cumin seeds

For the rest
12 cherry tomatoes or 3 big ones
Juice of 1 lime
1 small bunch coriander
12 small corn tortillas
2 avocados
A few dashes of hot sauce
Edible flowers (optional – I used marigolds)

Put the onion in a small bowl, cover with cold water, then leave to sit for a couple of minutes to mellow.

Use a knife or mandoline to finely slice or chop the cauliflower: you want it to be thin enough that it’s all going to be kissed with the lime juice. Put it into a bowl, add the jalapeno, the lime juice, the tequila, the salt and cumin, and three-quarters of the drained red onion, then toss with your hands. Set aside for at least 30 minutes at room temperature.

Chop the tomatoes, and mix with the rest of the red onion, the juice of half the lime and a quarter of the coriander.

Put the avocados into a food processor with the juice of the other half of the lime and a good pinch of salt, and blitz smooth.

Serve the ceviche on dry-fried tacos with the avocado cream, the tomatoes, more coriander, a dash of hot sauce and some flowers, if you have them, for a little Mexican colour and spirit.

Squash and caramelised onion quesadillas

Prep 15 min
Cook 25 min
Serves 2 as a meal, 4 as a snack

Great for parties – double or triple the recipe for a crowd. I have kept these vegan, because that’s how I like them, but if you like, add a little crumbled feta, manchego or even a sharp cheddar to the mix.

Anna Jones’ squash and caramelised onion quesadillas.



Anna Jones’ squash and caramelised onion quesadillas.

Olive oil
2 white onions, peeled and finely sliced
Salt
A quarter of a butternut squash (450g), peeled and grated
1 red chilli, finely chopped
2 tsp chipotle paste
¼ a tsp cinnamon
½ a tsp cumin seed
50g cashews, finely chopped
4 large tortillas (preferably corn)

For the guacamole
2 avocados
1 vine or 4 cherry tomatoes, roughly chopped
Juice of 1 lime, zest of ½
A few sprigs of coriander
Salt

Heat a splash of olive oil in a pan, add the onions and a good pinch of salt, and cook for 10 minutes, until soft and sweet. Add the butternut squash, the chilli, chipotle paste, spices and cashews, and cook for a few more minutes, until the squash has softened and lost its rawness.

Transfer to a bowl and leave to cool slightly. If you are using cheese, now is the time to add it: gently mix it in.

Make the guacamole: mash the avocados roughly with a fork, add the tomatoes, the lime juice and zest, coriander and a really good pinch of salt. Mix and taste, adding more salt or lime if needed.

Warm a frying pan big enough for the tortillas over a medium heat. Lay a tortilla flat on a chopping board, spoon half the squash mixture on top and even it out. Put another tortilla on top and transfer to the pan to dry-fry, until blistered and golden brown, then flip over with a spatula and do the same on the other side. Keep the quesadilla warm while you do the next one.

Take out of the pan, cut into slices, and serve with the guacamole and a little salad, if you are making a meal of it.

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