The Zen of Taco

Black-eyed pea and collard taco
While we were in Seattle, I bought Isa Does It, a book of vegan recipes. Alone in the house without my wife to cook me tacos, I extracted a recipe from the book and attempted it.

There were a few gaps. It’s hard to find collards or anything approaching them in Singapore. I wandered around the supermarket, eyeing Chinese spinach suspiciously, and eventually decided to buy a couple of boxes of rocket instead. There were no tins of black-eyed peas, so I substituted pinto beans, and instead of buying scallions, I just chopped up another regular onion.

We also don’t have any Louisiana-style hot sauce in the house.  We do have some cherry chipotle sauce that we bought from a cherry shop in Leavenworth, so I figured that would do.

Of course, being disorganised and forgetful, I got all the way through the recipe without remembering either to add the hot sauce in at the appropriate moment, or to get the tortillas out of the freezer.  No matter. I had a jar of Jamaican jerk powder, which had coalesced together in the damp humid Singaporean air, but I shook that over the mess that I’d made, and instead of rolling everything up into a taco, I just heaped it on a plate. I am the Zen master of the taco-without-a-taco.

Surprisingly, it wasn’t disastrous. Rocket leaves shrivel up a lot more than I expect collards would, and are a bit too crunchy and full of stalks.  Maybe next time I’ll try to find the one place in Singapore that sells kale and substitute that.

The omission of hot sauce was an error though.  Although the apple and avocado salsa is an interesting and cooling addition to the dish, there wasn’t another fire for it to interact with – as I only managed to eat half of what I made, I’ve put the rest in the fridge and will experiment with the cherry chipotle sauce later.  Perhaps for breakfast, although that might be a step too far.

However, I’m happy to say that the recipe was pretty easy to follow. The only thing that was a little distracting was the division of ingredients: I made up vegetable broth for the beans, and didn’t realise until I got to the second part of the recipe that I also needed vegetable broth for the collards/kale/rocket. Always read the whole recipe before you start, kids.

Black-eyed pea & collard tacos
Cuisine: Mexican / Vegetarian
Author: Isa Chandra Moskowitz
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4
  • Black eyed peas
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups of black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 3 tablespoons Louisiana-style hot sauce
  • Collards
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound collard greens, stems discarded, leaves coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Salsa
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and diced
  • 1 avocado, pitted, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 cup chopped scallions
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 6 10-inch flour tortillas
Black eyed peas
  1. Preheat a large pot and add the oil. Saute the onion for 3-5 minutes until translucent.
  2. Add the garlic, coriander, cumin and salt.
  3. Saute for another minute or so.
  4. Add splashes of water if it appears dry.
  5. Add the black-eyed peas and mash with a fork or masher – leave some texture.
  6. Add the broth and hot sauce and mix well.
  7. Cook for another 5 minutes until the beans are thick and velvety.
  8. Keep covered until ready for use.
  1. Preheat a large pan over medium heat and add the oil.
  2. Saute the garlic for 15 seconds or so.
  3. Add the collards, broth and salt, and toss to incorporate the garlic.
  4. Cover the pan and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Remove the lid and continue to cook until the collards are tender and most of the liquid has cooked away – this shouldn’t take more than 5 minutes.
  6. Cover to keep warm until ready to serve.
  1. Simply mix all the ingredients in a bowl, drizzling the lemon juice on at the end.
  2. Keep covered and chilled until ready to serve.
  1. Toast the tortillas in a dry pan.
  2. Layer the tortillas with the black-eyed peas, greens, and apple salsa.


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