Chef Anita Lo is a master at designing recipes for one, in any home kitchen, no matter how tiny and ill-equipped—including these vegetarian tacos (that can easily be made vegan). She relies on the toaster oven to roast the vegetables for her vegetarian tacos, and even to warm the tortillas on top. She quick pickles a handful of radishes, quarters and roasts the rest, then wilts the greens in, too—none of which is fussy or takes more than 15 minutes. She takes the power of a single garlic clove and distributes it among different parts of the meal—one-third into the salsa, another two-thirds into the quick pickle brine. She roasts half the jalapeño for the salsa and the other half goes into the pickling brine. Everything is considered and nothing goes to waste. Adapted slightly from Solo: A Modern Cookbook for a Party of One (Knopf, 2018). —Genius Recipes
1 but multiplies easily
radishes with tops intact, washed (reserve the tops and the 3 smallest radishes for later; quarter the rest)
2-inch tomatillo, husk removed, cut in half
small jalapeño, stem removed, cut lengthwise (or to taste: jalapeños vary greatly on the Scoville scale, so keep that in mind when using)
Salt and black pepper to taste
large pinch cumin
small pinch cinnamon
1/3-inch slice medium onion
clove garlic (smash 2/3, set aside remaining 1/3)
white vinegar or cider vinegar (or more as needed)
To serve: 4 small corn tortillas, 1/4 cup queso fresco, crumbled, wedge of lime (optional—there should be enough acidity from the pickles and salsa)
In This Recipe
Preheat a toaster oven or oven to 400°F. Place the majority of the radishes, their tops, the olive oil, the tomatillo, and half the jalapeño in a bowl, season with salt and pepper and toss. Remove the tomatillo and jalapeño, and place to one side of the roasting pan. Add the cumin and cinnamon to the bowl with the radishes and toss again. Remove the radishes and place to the other side of the roasting pan. Bake until everything is softened, about 12– 15 minutes.
In the meantime, make the radish pickles: Cut the remaining 3 radishes into thin rounds and place in a small ramekin or bowl along with the onions, the other half of the jalapeño, and the
smashed garlic. In a small sauté pan, bring the vinegar, three tablespoons water, and a pinch of salt to a boil, then pour over the sliced radish mixture. (Note: If your radishes are on the larger side and the brine amount looks scant, you can easily double it.) Set aside to cool to room temperature.
When the roasting vegetables are soft, remove the tomatillo and jalapeño and place them in the container that came with your immersion blender (alternatively, you can use a mini food processor). Add the radish greens to the baking pan and
replace in the oven. Cook until wilted and remove. Taste and adjust salt and pepper. Place the remaining third of the garlic clove in with the tomatillo and jalapeño, add the sprig of cilantro, the teaspoon of lime juice, and the remaining water, and blend with the hand blender, to make a smooth salsa. Season to taste with salt and pepper. If the salsa is looking thin and you'd like to bulk it up, you can add some of the wilted radish tops to the blender and blend till smooth.
Reheat the tortillas in a dry hot sauté pan, or on top of the toaster oven, one by one. Make the tacos with the roasted radishes and tops, garnished with a little salsa, pickles, and queso fresco. (Serve with wedges of lime if desired.)
Genius recipes surprise us and make us rethink cooking tropes. They're handed down by luminaries of the food world and become their legacy. They get us talking and change the way we cook. And, once we've folded them into our repertoires, they make us feel pretty genius too. Watch for new Genius Recipes every Wednesday morning on our blog, dug up by Food52's Senior Editor Kristen Miglore.