I’m back with another clean-out-the-fridge experiment turned dinner staple, Mushroom Tacos. Made with shiitake and baby portobello mushrooms, hearty cabbage, and spicy tofu cooked in a sweet and spicy Asian sauce, these healthy tacos have been a hit at not one but TWO casual dinners I’ve hosted in the last two weeks.
If the ingredient combo in this mushroom taco filling sounds odd, that is because the first time I made them, I was in the process of trying to use up every possible odd and end in the refrigerator to clear space for a giant grocery trip I was preparing to make the next day. The refrigerator in our new house is smaller than a standard size, so it happens frequently.
Our prior home had not one but two refrigerators, and even though the second dated from the late 1980s, it worked. When the time came to transition to having only one small one, I knew we were destined to starve.
KIDDING. It was an adjustment at first, but I’m slowly learning to buy things in smaller quantities as we need them. And if I over buy? Well then the leftovers meet unexpectedly delicious ends.
Which brings us to Mushroom Tacos.
Born of necessity to use up what we had on hand, these spicy vegetarian mushroom tacos turned out to be one of our favorite healthy dinners in a good while. We loved the tacos so much, I’ve made them twice since, once for friends, then again to perfect the recipe for you all here.
About This Mushroom Taco Recipe
The ingredients I found in my refrigerator that set this recipe in motion are:
- Mushrooms. The first time I made shiitake mushroom tacos, because that was what we had on hand. I’ve since tweaked the recipe to use cremini (baby bella) mushrooms, as they are more affordable and you need quite a lot for this recipe.
You can really use any kind you like (oyster mushroom tacos or a blend of different mushrooms would be delish), with one exception: do not use plain white button mushrooms. Their flavor is bland, and your tacos won’t have the oomph the recipe needs.
- Cabbage. One of the most under-appreciated of all seasonal vegetables, cabbage is delicious, especially sautéed. It’s mild and ideal for soaking up all the yummy flavors we’ll be adding to these tacos.
- Tofu. I found a package of this spicy Italian-style tofu in our fridge and decided to try tossing it in to make the tacos higher in protein. BINGO. Its spice really elevated the filling and made it much more interesting.
I realize Italian-style tofu sounds odd, but I love this product and buy it regularly. It’s ultra high in protein, it’s the right amount of spicy, and if you cut it up and sauté it, it has an excellent texture and is not at all mushy. I put it in eggs, pasta, and, now lately, Mushroom Tacos. Not a single guest had any idea that the tacos contained tofu, so if even if you are skeptical, I highly encourage you to give it a try.
That said, if the idea of vegetarian mushroom tofu tacos just does not sit well with you or you can’t find this product, you can swap Italian turkey sausage or chicken sausage. I do not recommend regular tofu. Its flavor and texture won’t do the job here. (Check out these Tofu Tacos for a recipe using regular tofu or these Tempeh Tacos that use tempeh.)
- Hoisin, Soy Sauce, Rice Vinegar. This trio creates a sweet, sticky, well-balanced sauce that makes the mushroom taco filling irresistibly good.
All three of the above ingredients are pantry staples if you make Asian-inspired recipes like stir-fries regularly. They are not expensive, widely available in most grocery stores, and worth keeping on hand (you can use the leftovers to make many of these stir-fry recipes with them too).
- Ginger and Garlic. The background notes that keep the Mushroom Tacos tasting fresh and zippy. Do not skimp.
- Peanuts. The final crunchy, toasty element that makes the Mushroom Tacos shine.
More Ways to Serve Mushroom Tacos
- Ditch the tortilla and mix with brown rice, similar to a classic stir-fry.
- Swap the tortilla for bib lettuce leaves to create lettuce cups (similar to these Vegetarian Lettuce Wraps).
Other Tasty Vegetarian Recipes
Here’s to accidental Mushroom Tacos you’ll want to make on purpose!
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil - divided
- 12–14 ounces tofu Italian “sausage” or regular precooked Italian turkey or chicken sausage links - spicy or sweet, as you prefer (we like spicy!), halved lengthwise, then cut crosswise into thin half-moon-shaped slices; do not swap regular plain tofu, as its texture and flavor will not work out properly
- 1/2 small head green or red cabbage - cored and thinly sliced (about 8 cups)
- 24 ounces baby bella (cremini) mushrooms - thinly sliced
- 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons water
- 4 large cloves garlic - minced (about 1 1/2 tablespoons)
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
- 1 bunch scallions - thinly sliced, dark green parts divided from the light green and white parts
- 3 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
- 3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
- 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce
- 1–2 teaspoons ground fresh chili paste (sambal oelek), sriracha, or similar hot sauce or a pinch of red pepper flakes - (optional)
- 1/4 cup finely chopped dry roasted unsalted peanuts - plus additional for serving
- Warmed flour tortillas
- Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large, deep dutch oven or wok over medium high. Add the chopped tofu “sausage” or chicken/turkey sausage. Cook until brown on all sides, about 5 to 6 minutes. Remove to a plate and set aside.
- Add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Once hot, add the cabbage, mushrooms, and 1/3 cup water. It will seem like a ridiculous amount of cabbage, but it will cook down significantly. Let cook until the cabbage is tender and the mushrooms are browned, soft, and have given up their liquid, about 15 minutes, stirring often at first so that the cabbage at the bottom of the pan browns but does not burn. If at any point the mixture starts to become dry and stick to the bottom, splash in a little more water as needed.
- Add the garlic, ginger, and white and light green parts of the green onions. Cook, stirring constantly, until very fragrant, about 1 minute.
- Add the sauteed tofu or sausage, rice vinegar, hoisin, soy sauce, chili paste, and remaining 2 tablespoons water. Stir until everything is warmed through and combined. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired. Stir in the peanuts and remove from heat and sprinkle with reserved dark green onions. Pile inside warm tortillas and enjoy hot with a sprinkle of extra peanuts.
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