Spicy but sweet, soft but crunchy - this taco can convert the vegetable haters out there. And it just happens to be vegan. If you like a bit of spice, add more - if you shy away from heat, cut back.
The pickled onions and cashew cream will keep in the fridge, which is good - you will probably have leftovers.
If you want to dress it up, make Navajo fry bread - it's easy and cheap!
This is similar to the recipe which won 2nd place in the Judge's Awards and 3rd place in the Audience Award at The Food Experiment's DC Taco Experiment on May 15, 2011.
dried chipotle chile powder
salt (smoked sea salt if available)
oil (grapeseed or olive oil)
jicama, sliced into thin strips
dried chipotle chile powder
apple cider vinegar
fruit juice - pineapple, lime, mango, orange - citrus works well
dried New Mexico chile (or arbol or guajillo or...)
The night before (or earlier), prepare your pickled onions. (1)
Slice the onions into thin rounds, then crosswise into small strips. Slice the jalapeno open - you can leave the pepper intact, with the stem and the seeds.
(2) To the sliced onions and jalapeno, add the vinegars, fruit juice, dried chiles (more or less as you like), and bay leaf. Add sugar to taste.
(3) Soak overnight - the longer, the better. You will have leftovers for your next taco experiment. Keeps for up to two weeks in the refrigerator.
Prepare the sweet potatoes:
Cut the sweet potatoes into a thick julienne - 1/2" by 1/2" sticks. Combine the spices, then toss the sweet potatoes in the oil and spice mixture. Spread the sweet potatoes onto a baking sheet and roast at 400 F for 45 minutes, tossing after 25 minutes.
While the sweet potatoes are roasting:
Prepare the cashew cream. Raw cashews work best. Wash them under water and puree them in a food processor. Add water to thin to a creamlike consistency. Add maple syrup and chipotle powder to taste. If you use roasted cashews, you may not need maple syrup, since roasted cashews are sweeter. You will probably have leftovers.
Warm the tortillas (right on the burner works best). Add cashew cream, roasted sweet potatoes, jicama, and pickled onions. Open a beer (everyone knows tacos taste better with beer), and enjoy.
Optional garnishes: if you're an advocate of the "bacon makes everything better" theory, try adding crumbled bacon on top (regular old bacon works well but candied bacon is even better, and pairs nicely with the sweet potato). Pepitas also add a nice touch (and you can keep the dish vegan). Or go crazy and add both candied bacon and pepitas!
Another great option: serve with Navajo fry bread instead of tortillas. Beer Advocate has a great recipe, which we prepared with Brooklyn Brewery Brown Ale (a nice malty ale) and whole wheat flour.