When I’m entertaining for a variety of dietary restrictions, besides these tarts, one of my favorite strategies is the taco buffet.
I’ve employed a surf and turf version often during the summertime to please my mixed family table of gluten-free, dairy-free partial pescatarians. But the most notable occasion that I summoned the power of mix-and-match individualism on the plate, was when I threw the First Annual Only Child Party.
The evening was conceived as both an electrifying social experiment, and an opportunity to get an incredibly random group of people together for dinner. It may or may not have also been an excuse to write a witty email and get attention and praise.
The brain child of myself and my closest only child compadre, Sarah, we came up with an elaborate array of party favors, activities and crafts. There would be an “official center of attention” marked with masking tape in Sarah’s living room, #1 candles placed in single-serve cupcakes, and name tags that said “ask me about…” with ME written on all of them.
A high point of the evening was a salon-style discussion, in which everyone answered the same two questions: 1) have you ever done musical theater? And 2) how many children do you want?
But of course the star of the show (besides every person in it) was the food. I made pulled brisket, another only sautéed shrimp, and Sarah made a mushroom filling that reminded me that veggie taco toppings are often the best toppings.
A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of sharing the stage with Pamela Salzman and Lily Diamond at a joint book celebration in LA. Lily and I bonded over being only children, while expressing our awe for Pamela, whose nightly family table rivals the usual size of my dinner parties.
With three children of her own, Pamela has spent the last decade teaching families across Los Angeles how to feed their families with simple, whole foods. She is one of the most well-respected culinary instructors on her coast, and has now finally put all her knowledge and delicious, approachable recipes into a new book: Kitchen Matters!
If you’re a fan of what I do in these parts, I know you will love Pamela’s style—her recipes are healthy comfort food at its finest! Though I polished off a whole tray of White Bean Tahini Blondies at our joint celebration, when I was deciding what to serve you virtually, her portobello mushroom tacos caught my eye.
The ingredient list is simple and streamlined, but like everything Pamela does, you learn a few stealth techniques along the way. In this case, how to broil and peel a poblano pepper! The recipe calls for frozen charred corn, but since it’s almost the season, you can easily use fresh shucked corn on the cob and char it yourself on a hot grill.
In the name of only child individualism, I highly recommend serving these tacos with a host of accompaniments: quick pickled shallots, sliced avocado, and even some hot sauce for those feeling feisty.
If you’re looking for a vegetarian, vegan or plant-based option for your next taco buffet, I highly recommend these portobello mushroom tacos with charred corn and poblanos. And if you’re looking for more California favorites to break out at your next dinner party (or weeknight dinner, for those with more than just three family members), pick up Pamela’s book!
From one healthy hedonist, to another,
Portobello Mushroom Tacos with Poblanos and Charred Corn
This recipe is adapted from Pamela Salzman's new cookbook Kitchen Matters. I served my tacos with some organic corn tortillas, quick pickled shallots and avocado on the side (see note).
- 4 Poblano peppers (often mislabeled as “Pasilla peppers”)
- 2 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 Portobello Mushrooms , thickly sliced (about 1/2-inch thick)
- 1 cup frozen fire-roasted corn or regular sweet corn kernels , preferably organic, thawed or freshly cut from the cob
- sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- Preheat the broiler to high and position rack 6 inches below heat source. This is usually the second level. Place poblanos on a baking sheet and broil until blackened on all sides, turning every couple of minutes. Set aside in a bowl and cover for at least 15 minutes, or until cool enough to handle. Rub off the skin, remove the seeds, and thickly slice (about ½-inch thick).
- In a large skillet, warm the olive oil over medium heat. Add portobellos and sauté until tender, 5-6 minutes. Add the corn, sliced poblanos, a sprinkle of salt and black pepper to taste, and the cumin. Sauté until corn is warmed through. Taste for seasoning. Serve with warm corn tortillas and your desired accompaniments.
If you don’t mind one more step, doing a quick pickle on the shallots is a delicious way to upgrade them, especially if you don’t like the flavor of raw onion. Toss them with 1 tablespoon cider vinegar, 1 teaspoon honey, and 1/2 teaspoon salt and let them sit for 10 minutes while the mushrooms are cooking. You can also make up to 2 weeks in advance.