A few weeks ago, I hopped on a plane to Lafayette, Lousianna. A town with a little airport about 2.5 hours west of New Orleans. A place I had never really heard of until Tabasco asked me to come visit them on their island, Avery Island, in the middle of Louisiana. Srounded by bayous, and filled with crocs and crazy lush, mossy trees, Avery Island totally took me by surprise, and one of the more magical places I have visited in the US.
Before my visit to Avery Island, I knew little about Tabasco except for the fact that it was at every single restaurant, and when you asked for hot sauce, 99% of the time they bring you Tabasco. I had no idea that Tabasco was, and still is, a family run business. I also had no idea that Tabasco was made all right there on Avery Island. If you would have asked me I would have thought that it was all done in some massive factory operation in the middle of somewhere much less lush. But to see it with my own eyes, I was really really impressed and taken back by the beauty of the land where it was grown, aged, and bottled, as well as by the people who work there from the head people in charge down to the forklift workers, some of whose families have worked there for generations. I left Avery Island with warm and fuzzy feelings, a new appreciation for this ever popular hot sauce, and such great memories.
While we were there we got to try everything. The "mash" which is basically the Tabasco peppers that are mashed and aging in barrels (super spicy!), as well as their compelete line of hot sauces, including some products that are brand new and they are testing on the market. Since I've now tried them all, a lot of friends have asked me what's my favorite, and without hesitation I can say the Reserve is my favorite. I had never heard of the reserve before this trip, and you can only buy it online, but after I tried it once, I was reaching for it to put on everything. It's aged twice as long as the regular Tabasco, and has a much more neuanced / sophiticated taste. It's good, and it's what I choose to use for this recipe today, although you can use any of the Tabasco line, the traditional or chipotle would be great choices as well.
I've been obsessed with the idea of crispy broccoli tacos ever since I tried something similar at a restaurant (that I can't remember now, because it was in the winter and I tend to block out part of the winter ... especially the really cold parts). Anyhow, I just loved the texture and I envisioned a spicy version all wrapped up with some avocado, green onion, and cilantro. Since it's summer, I lightened these up just a bit by using a lettuce wrap instead of a tortilla, but a tortilla is more than acceptable. A drizzle of this tangy cashew cream and good douse of hot sauce, and you have a tasty, spicy, veggie taco option for the beginning of summer!
**This post is sponsored by TABASCO, in conjunction with the #TABACSOtastemakers trip. All thoughts are my own. Thanks for supporting the brands who support WCGL!
spicy crispy broccoli tacos + tangy cashew cream
for the tangy cashew cream:
1/2 cup of cashews, soaked for a min of 2 hours
1/4 cup of water
1 tablespoon of white wine vinegar
3 green onions, white parts only (green parts reserve for garnish)
1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt
1 head of broccoli, chopped into florets
1/2 cup of garbanzo bean flour
1/2 cup of water
1 teaspoon of garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt
1 teaspoon + of TABASCO chipotle, original red, or reserve
about 1/3 cup of sunflower oil (or another neutral high-heat oil)
for the tacos:
4-6 tortillas OR 8-12 bibb lettuce leaves
1 avocado, sliced
some thinly sliced red chilies (optional)
a few dashes of TABASCO (of your choice, optional)
a handful of cilantro, chopped
the green part of the green onion, reserved from the cashew cream
Make the cashew cream:
- Drain the cashews from their soaking liquid, and place all of the ingredients for the cashew cream into a food processor and blend until super smooth. Remove and set aside (or in the fridge) until ready to serve.
Prepare + fry the broccoli:
- In a large bowl, add the flour, water, garlic powder, salt, and TABASCO, and stir until combined. You want the mixture to be thick, but thin enough to coat the back of a spoon. If it's too thin, add more water, a tablespoon at a time. Add the broccoli florets to the mixture and toss to evenly coat.
- In a large cast iron, add enough oil to evenly coat the bottom of the pan and heat over medium heat until the oil looks shimmery. Test by adding a small piece of the broccoli, and if it is sizzles, then it's ready. Add the broccoli, but do not crowd the pan. I did this in two batches. Cook for about 5 minutes on each side, until golden brown and the batter is crispy on all sides, and then remove and place onto a paper towel-lined plate. Do this until all of the broccoli is cooked, being sure to turn down the heat slightly if the oil starts to smoke.
Assemble the tacos:
- Lay a single tortilla, or two pieces of bibb lettuce (overlapping), onto a flat surface. Spoon some cashew cream down the middle, then add a couple of pieces of broccoli, making sure you don't overstuff. Then add two slices of avocado, a pinch of green onion and cilantro, a couple of the sliced red chilies, and finish with a couple of dashes of TABASCO (optional). Do this until all of the tacos are assembles, and enjoy immediately!