Cauliflower Tinga Tacos

Cauliflower Tinga Tacos are filled with tender smoky cauliflower and a homemade avocado sauce you make yourself in minutes. Use my easy technique for frying the corn tortillas and every bite will be crunchy, creamy, and one thousand percent delicious.

Cauliflower Tinga tacos on a blue plate.

This is an amazing plant-based Mexican recipe that is definitely worth working into your weekly rotation. It uses a couple different authentic techniques (roasting peppers, blanching tomatoes) for salsas and sauces I learned in Mexico. They’re not hard, but they do level up your culinary game.

Cauliflower shows up a lot in vegetarian/vegan recipes, but here it absolutely shines in the smoked pepper adobo sauce. I got the idea from Chicken Tinga, a spicy recipe I make for tacos and tostadas. The fresh chopped mint adds amazing taste too, to the relief of all the cilantro haters!

Recipe ingredients:

Cauliflower tinga taco ingredients in various bowls.

Ingredient notes:

  • Serrano chiles: These spicy guys are slightly thinner, straighter, and spicier than jalapeño peppers. To roast, turn the flame of a gas stove to HIGH. Using tongs, place chilies directly in or over the flame until the skin is charred and blistered but not ash white, turning occasionally, about 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let stand until the skin starts to loosen and the peppers are cool enough to handle, about 10 minutes. Rub off and discard the blackened skin.
  • Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce: Smoky chipotle peppers are the star of the show in my recipe for Chicken Tinga, too. Even though the can is small, it packs some serious heat, so you’ll almost always have extra. Good news: you can freeze the leftovers in a little baggie, so you’ll have it ready to go next time.
  • Corn tortillas. The freshest you can find, about 8″ in diameter for a good size taco.
  • Fresh mint. Grab some out of your neighbor’s garden! Mint stands in for cilantro in the tacos and you’ll love it! Use cilantro if you can’t find mint.

Step-by-step instructions:

  1. Turn the stove on HIGH, then position the pepper directly over the flames, turning with tongs until the pepper’s skin is black and blistered.
    Poblano pepper being roasted on top of a stove.
  2. Once the pepper is roasted on all sides, immediately put it in a small bowl and cover with plastic wrap to “sweat.” The steamy heat will loosen the pepper’s outer skin and make it easier to peel.
    Poblano pepper covered in a bowl.
  3. To make the avocado sauce, purée the avocados up with the whole roasted pepper, lime juice, and some salt and pepper. If the sauce looks too thick, add a tiny bit of water to the blender to thin it out. It should be smooth and silky.
    Avocado sauce in a blender.
  4. Drop the tomatoes in boiling water until the skins burst, only 1 to 2 minutes. Remove with tongs or a slotted spoon.
    Three tomatoes in boiling water in a sliver pot.
  5. To a blender, add tomatoes, chipotle chiles, onion, garlic, and a little of the water the tomatoes were blanched in. Blend this up until smooth. It’s the salsa that the cauliflower gets cooked in.
    Make Chicken Tinga for dinner tonight, and you’ll thank yourself all week long for the leftovers. They’re smoky, spicy, and just what you need on Taco Tuesday, Tostada Thursday, or any weeknight at all.
  6. Then pour the sauce into a pan and add the cauliflower florets. Over medium-high heat, cook the cauliflower until tender–10 to 15 minutes. Give the florets a little salt and pepper, and you’re ready.
    Cauliflower tinga taco filling cooking in a silver pan.
  7. You can turn corn or flour tortillas into crisp taco shells right on the stove with a skillet and a little oil. Just make sure the oil is hot enough (350 to 365 degrees) otherwise the tortillas will soak up too much oil. Also, work one at a time until you get the hang of it. Once you do, you’ll never go back to store-bought taco shells!
    A corn tortilla toasting on a black skillet.
  8. To fry the taco shells, heat the oil to 350 or 365 degrees. When the oil is hot, use tongs to place one tortilla into the oil. It should sizzle immediately. Cook the tortilla for about 10 to 15 seconds, then flip over and fold the shell in half, holding in place with the tongs until crispy, another 15 seconds or so.
    A corn tortilla being flipped on a black skillet.
  9. Sprinkle with salt while still hot. Keep the fried taco shells on the wire rack in a low oven to keep them warm and crispy until it’s time to eat.Use these for tacos right away, or they may become chewy. Leftovers may be heated in the oven for crisping. Make a little lettuce nest in the bottom of the taco shell for the cauliflower. This will keep it from softening the shell before you eat it. Spoon a few pieces of cauliflower into the taco, then top with sauce, mint, sliced radishes, and anything else your taco loving heart desires!

Cauliflower Tinga tacos on a blue plate with a side of avocado sauce.

Delicious sides for tacos:

Cauliflower Tinga tacos on a blue plate.

Cauliflower Tinga Tacos

Cauliflower Tinga Tacos are filled with tender smoky cauliflower and a homemade avocado sauce you make yourself in minutes. Use my easy technique for frying the corn tortillas and every bite will be crunchy, creamy, and one thousand percent delicious. 
5 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Cook Time: 55 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 412kcal
Author: Meggan Hill

Ingredients

For the avocado sauce:

  • 2 avocados halved, pitted, and peeled
  • 1 serrano chile roasted (see note 1)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice from 1 lime
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the tinga tacos:

  • 3 roma tomatoes
  • 1 cup water (reserved from boiling tomatoes if desired)
  • 1/4 medium onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 4 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce or more to taste (see note 2)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large large head cauliflower cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 4 cups)
  • vegetable oil to fry the tortillas
  • 8 (8-inch) corn tortillas (see note 3)
  • shredded lettuce for serving
  • 6 ounces radishes thinly sliced, for serving
  • 2 avocados pitted, peeled, and thinly sliced, for serving
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint for serving (see note 4)

Instructions

To make the avocado sauce:

  • To a blender, add avocados, roasted serrano chile, and lime juice. Blend until smooth (add water as needed to blend smoothly). Season to taste with salt and pepper.

To make the tinga tacos:

  • Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Set a wire rack over a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil.
  • In a medium saucepan bring 4 cups water to boil. Add tomatoes and boil until cooked through, about 5 minutes. Reserving 1 cup of cooking water, remove tomatoes and transfer to a blender.
  • To the blender with the tomatoes, add 1 cup water (reserved from boiling tomatoes if desired), onion, garlic, and chipotle chiles in adobo. Blend until smooth, about 2 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • In a Dutch oven or large saucepan over medium-high heat, add sauce and cauliflower florets and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer until florets are tender, about 10 to 15 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper and keep warm.
  • In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add about 1/2 inch vegetable oil and heat to 350 degrees. Add one tortilla to the skillet and cook until it is blistering but still soft, 10 to 15 seconds. Using tongs, turn tortilla over and then immediately fold to form a taco shell.
  • Once the tortilla is holding its shape, turn until crisp and golden all over, 15 to 30 seconds longer. Transfer to wire rack and keep warm in oven while repeating with remaining tortillas.
  • To assemble the tacos, line the bottom of a shell with lettuce. Top with cauliflower tinga, sliced radishes, avocado sauce, and fresh mint.

Notes

  1. Serrano chiles: These spicy guys are slightly thinner, straighter, and spicier than jalapeño peppers. To roast, turn the flame of a gas stove to HIGH. Using tongs, place chilies directly in or over the flame until the skin is charred and blistered but not ash white, turning occasionally, about 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let stand until the skin starts to loosen and the peppers are cool enough to handle, about 10 minutes. Rub off and discard the blackened skin. 
  2. Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce: Smoky chipotle peppers are the star of the show in my recipe for Chicken Tinga, too. Even though the can is small, it packs some serious heat, so you'll almost always have extra. Good news: you can freeze the leftovers in a little baggie, so you'll have it ready to go next time.
  3. Corn tortillas. The freshest you can find, about 8" in diameter for a good size taco.
  4. Fresh mint. Grab some out of your neighbor's garden! Mint stands in for cilantro in the tacos and you'll love it! Use cilantro if you can't find mint.

Nutrition

Calories: 412kcal | Carbohydrates: 36g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 30g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Sodium: 291mg | Potassium: 1838mg | Fiber: 21g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 1564IU | Vitamin C: 139mg | Calcium: 92mg | Iron: 3mg
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  1. Katie

    Made these this weekend… ahhhh mazing!!!5 stars

  2. Ann

    I love all of your recipes so much so I decided to try these out this weekend. WOW were they good! I’m trying to cut out meat, which has been difficult, but with a recipe like this it makes it much easier. Thank you!5 stars

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