Fantastic Taco Night Side Dishes

Fantastic Taco Night Side Dishes

I love making guacamole from scratch because it so easy and fresh tasting. I never used a written recipe and typically don’t measure, but I’ve written this down for you and just know you can improvise since this recipe is very flexible. Serves 2 - can easily double recipe.

Best Chunky Guacamole

1 ripe avocado
2 Roma tomatoes
1 tbsp chopped garlic
1 handful fresh cilantro leaves (approx 2 tbsp)
squeeze lime juice (optional)
salt (not optional!)
  1. Slice all the way around the avocado lengthwise and twist the two halves apart. Scoop the pit out of the one half or if you’re comfortable, hold the one half with the pit in the palm of your hand and use a large chopping knife to chop once into the pit so the knife sticks. Then you can easily twist the knife and the pit comes out on the knife.
  2. Holding one half of the avocado in the palm of your hand, slice through the avocado (but not the skin) in a small (approximately ½”) grid pattern. Then use a spoon to scoop out the avocado into a serving bowl.
  3. If the guacamole is going to be sitting out for a bit before serving, then squeeze lime juice over the avocado to prevent browning and add flavor. This isn’t a necessary step and one I don’t always do if I don’t have a lime or juice on hand.
  4. Slice the top off two Roma tomatoes and remove the core with a knife and squeeze “the guts” out. Chop the tomatoes into small ½” size pieces and add to bowl.
  5. Add 1 tablespoon of finely chopped garlic to the bowl (I usually use jarred garlic but you can chop fresh if you prefer).
  6. Fresh cilantro makes a world of difference for the flavor, but use dried if fresh isn’t available. Remove the leaves from the stalks of fresh cilantro and make a pile to then roughly chop into smaller pieces or just rip leaves right into the bowl.
  7. Salt is key, so don't be stingy with it. I usually add at least one teaspoon to the serving bowl. 
  8. Mix all ingredients in serving bowl. I prefer my guacamole chunky so I don’t mash up the avocado very much, but if you prefer a smoother guacamole, you can use the back of the spoon to mash the avocado as you stir.
  9. Serve with your favorite tortilla chips or over any dish to add some zing to grilled meats or salads.

Spicy Black Beans

My family likes to add black beans to their tacos or salad and it’s a great source of protein for the vegetarian in our family. Instead of just opening a can of beans, this is an easy way to make them a little more special. Serves 2 as a side dish or can easily be doubled.
1 (16 ounce) can black beans
1 tablespoon olive oil 
1 small chopped onion
1 small chopped red pepper
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 handful fresh cilantro leaves (approx 2 tbsp)
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoon cumin
¼ teaspoon salt
  1. In small sauté pan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add one small onion chopped finely, 1 small chopped red pepper that has seeds removed and 1 tablespoon of finely chopped garlic to the pan. Sauté the vegetables until the onions are translucent approximately 5 minutes. 
  2. Drain the beans and pour into the saucepan and stir ingredients together over medium heat.
  3. As beans begin to warm up and simmer (approximately 5 minutes), stir in cayenne pepper, cumin, and salt.
  4. Remove beans from heat and pour into serving bowl.
  5. I prefer fresh cilantro, but use dried if fresh isn’t available. Remove the leaves from the stalks of fresh cilantro and make a pile to then roughly chop into smaller pieces or just rip leaves right into the bowl. Stir in cilantro and serve.
Jennifer Smelker

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