The first time I ever saw cauliflower al pastor was on a menu in a fusion-tapas-Mexican restaurant in Bend, Oregon. I thought that it was pretty interesting and immediately ordered it! It was really good. Especially for a take on a fattening and rich pork recipe. It’s almost one of those recipes one would not want to mess with! Luckily, Barrio did a really good job with recreating a pork al pastor taco into a vegetarian cauliflower al pastor taco. Ever since then I have wanted to make my own version of it.
As a meat eater, I am particular about how I create vegetarian versions of classic meat dishes. For starters, I believe that vegetables and vegetarian dishes deserve just as much thought and respect as meat dishes do. I’m also from the thought process that to make sure one is satiated from a vegetarian dish, it must have a lot of flavor to them. They can’t hide behind the fats of meat dishes.
I treated the cauliflower for this taco as if it was pork. I marinated it with relatively traditional ingredients like pureed pineapple, dried chili pepper powders, cumin, oregano and garlic for an extended period of time. But here’s the part where I needed to move away from a traditional taco al pastor. I couldn’t rely on just the cauliflower to have enough flavor like you do with slow roasted pork. There needed to be more layers of flavor. I started with making an avocado/cilantro/lime crema. (I blended sour cream, avocado, cilantro and lime juice in my Cuisinart). I opted for grilling pineapple because cooking pineapple over high heat adds a ton of flavor to the fruit. For the final toppings I decided on loads of cilantro, serrano peppers, diced red onion and some cotija cheese.
I can’t stress enough how all of these flavors work together to create the perfect cauliflower taco.
Short Cut Tip: There are a couple things you could do if you didn’t want to make all of the components that I did. Instead of making the crema, you could mix in lime juice with the sour cream and a pinch of salt. Then dice the avocado and drench in salt and lime juice. You could also roast pineapple chunks with the cauliflower. It would save you a bit of time and would still have a similar flavor profile.
Also for the pineapple – most grocery stores have pre-sliced pineapple in the produce section. If you buy those, you’ll save time and waste because a whole pineapple is too much.
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Cauliflower Tacos al Pastor
- 1 head of cauliflower
- 1 8-ounce tin of chopped pineapple
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoons white vinegar
- 1 clove of garlic, finely minced
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1 tablespoon ancho chili powder
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 avocado
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1 cup of fresh cilantro
- 1 lime
- 1 small sliced container of pineapple from the produce section. If not, double up on the canned pineapple and roast with the cauliflower.
- 1 bunch of cilantro
- Sliced jalapeño or serrano pepper
- Cotija or feta cheese
- Corn tortillas
- Start with getting the cauliflower in the marinade. Take the florets off the cauliflower stem. Cut into uniform sized pieces and place in a bowl. Puree the pineapple and place over the cauliflower. Mix together the other ingredients into a small bowl to create a paste. Rub the paste into the cauliflower with a few pinches of salt. Set aside and if you have time, marinate over night.
- Once ready to cook, turn the oven to 375F. Place the cauliflower in a baking pan or a cast iron skillet and place in the oven for about 20-25 minutes. If you don't want to grill the pineapple slices, cut the pineapple into chunks and roast with the cauliflower.
- While the cauliflower is roasting, make the crema by pureeing the avocado, sour cream, juice of the lime; a handful of cilantro and a pinch of salt. Taste and adjust seasonings if you want. Set aside.
- If you are grilling the pineapple, turn the grill onto high and then sear the pineapple for a few minutes on each side.
- Slice the pepper.
- Once the cauliflower is cooked, remove from the oven and assemble the tacos. Place the cauliflower onto the tortilla, then some pineapple, crema, sliced pepper, cilantro and cotija or feta cheese.
For 2 Large Servings
High Fiber, Vegetarian, Pescatarian, Gluten Free, Wheat Free, Egg Free, Peanut Free, Tree Nut Free, Soy Free, Fish Free, Shellfish Free, Pork Free, Red Meat Free, Crustacean Free, Celery Free, Mustard Free, Sesame Free, Lupine Free, Mollusk Free, Alcohol Free, No Sugar Added, Kosher