Those of you who are fans of Invader Zim will understand why this pic is appropriate for a post about taquitos. And if you’re not familiar with Zim? Go to YouTube or Hulu, search for the show, and bask in the ridiculously twisted brilliance of one of the best cartoons in semi-recent history.
But anyway, on to the food.
Taquitos are one of those foods that are just fun to eat. Crunchy, creamy, and stuffed with richly-seasoned meat and cheese, they are perfectly munchable and ideal for snacking with a cold beer while watching your favorite sport on the boob-tube. They’re versatile, flavorful, and texturally balanced, and are an ideal way to use up odds and ends in your fridge and end up with something greater than the sum of its parts.
Luckily, they can also be stupidly easy to make when baked instead of fried, and make a damn tasty dinner when paired with a cool, creamy dipping sauce and a creative salad.
These taquitos are filled with ground turkey in a simple chili-verde sauce, seasoned with green chilis, cumin, garlic, and oregano, and blended with shredded cheddar cheese. The salad is a riff on a Bobby Flay recipe, with roasted cremini mushrooms and asparagus in an ancho chile vinaigrette. Its got a bit of an identity crisis, with a vaguely-French mix of greens, toasted cashews, and blue cheese, but its delicious all the same, and a welcome change from our standard greens-carrots-onions-balsamic-vinaigrette salad formula. And the cool, creamy, fat-free Greek yogurt-based dipping sauce with more green chilis and lime provides the perfect lightly-rich foil to the hot, crunchy taquitos.
All in all, this is an easy, satisfying, and highly enjoyable meal for a relaxed Friday night.
Turkey Verde Taquitos with Creamy Green Chili Sauce
1/3 lb ground turkey
1/2 cup minced red onion
3 garlic cloves, smashed and minced
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp dry oregano
3 oz canned chopped green chilis (from a 4 oz can – reserve 1 oz for the sauce)
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar
6 small corn tortillas
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Non-stick cooking spray
1/3 cup fat free Greek yogurt
1 tbsp low fat mayo
reserved 1 oz chopped green chilis
juice of half a lime
salt to taste
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil, spray with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.
Heat the olive oil in a large sautee pan on medium heat until shimmering, then add onions and garlic and a sprinkle of salt. Sautee, stirring regularly with a wooden spoon, until onions and garlic are softened and very lightly browned. Add the ground turkey to the pan and break up with your wooden spoon, stirring to combine with the onions and garlic in the pan. Add the cumin and oregano and sautee until mostly cooked through. Add the green chilis with their liquid, turn down the heat a bit, and cook gently until the excess liquid in the pan boils off. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then move the meat mixture to a bowl and set aside to cool to near room temperature.
While the meat cools, make the sauce by combining the yogurt, mayo, reserved chilis and lime juice in a bowl and stirring to combine. Season to taste with salt and set aside for later.
When meat has cooled, stir in a spoonful or two of the dipping sauce and the shredded cheese.
Working with two tortillas at a time, place between damp paper towels on a microwave safe plate and nuke for 25 seconds to soften. Lay one tortilla on a board or plate and spoon 1/6 of the meat mixture (a couple tablespoons’ worth) in a line down the center of the tortilla. Roll the tortilla tightly around the filling like a cigar, then lay seam-side down on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining tortillas. Spray the tops of the taquitos with more non-stick cooking spray and sprinkle lightly with salt.
Bake the taquitos on a rack positioned near the center of the oven for about 20 minutes or until golden brown and crispy-crunchy. Depending on your oven, you may want to rotate the pan halfway through to ensure even browning. Take note that the rolled ends of the taquitos will probably brown faster than the centers because of the moisture in the filling, so keep an eye on them in the last few minutes of cooking. Serve the taquitos while hot with the dipping sauce.
Roasted Cremini Mushroom and Asparagus Salad w/Ancho Chili Vinaigrette
Serves 2; adapted from The Mesa Grill Cook Book by Bobby Flay
8-10 cremini mushrooms, cleaned, stems removed, and cut in quarters
6 thick asparagus spears, trimmed and cut in 2″ lengths
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup chopped cashews
crumbled blue cheese
1 1/2 cups salad greens (We used a mix of butter lettuce and raddichio, but feel free to use romaine lettuce, spring mix, arugula, or whatever greens you prefer.)
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp mustard (we used our standard Guldens spicy brown, but feel free to use dijon or a grainy mustard)
1/2 tsp honey
1 tbsp ancho chili powder
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil.
Toss quartered mushrooms with 1 tbsp olive oil and spread in a single layer on the baking sheet. Place on a rack near the bottom of the oven and roast for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven, add the asparagus, second tbsp of olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste, and continue to roast for 10 minutes or until the vegetables are golden brown and tender.
While vegetables are roasting, heat a small skillet over medium heat, then add the cashews and toast, tossing often, until the nuts have browned as evenly as possible. Remove the pan from the heat immediately to keep the nuts from burning from residual heat (this is especially important if you have an electric range as we do).
Make the dressing by combining all of the ingredients in a container with a tight fitting lid and shake vigorously to combine. (Alternatively, combine the vinegar, mustard, honey, and chili powder in a bowl and whisk to combine, then gradually stream in the oil while whisking to create an emulsion, and season to taste. I think the shaking method is much easier and faster, but do what you will.)
When the vegetables are done, remove from the oven and toss with a couple tablespoons of the dressing on the baking sheet.
Divide the salad greens between two plates, top each with half the roasted, dressed vegetables, nuts, and cheese, then drizzle with extra dressing to taste.
Meal prep tip:
Timing these two dishes for a single meal is pretty simple. When you preheat the oven, position one rack near the bottom of the oven, and the second halfway between the center and the top. Start the mushrooms in the oven on the lower rack, then put the taquitos in five minutes later on the upper rack. After ten minutes, add the asparagus to the pan with the mushrooms and rotate the pan with the taquitos. That way, everything will be finished cooking at about the same time.