If there’s one meal that is sure to cause a unanimous chorus of approval around here, it’s taco night. And we all know how much that sound is music to the ears for the meal planner in the family. The fact that I put taco holders ahead of Tiffany’s on my Christmas list tells you just how much I love to hear it.
In honour of National Taco Day (yes, it’s really a thing), here are my top 5 tips for a successful family taco night.
Find your wrap
We have different preferences for the taco base at our house. Some of us prefer a tortilla, while others of us prefer a nice crunchy taco shell. Either way, we always warm them for a few minutes before serving. For tortillas, I cheat and use the microwave, but there are other methods for warming, which also work well for slightly stale tortillas. I warm the crunchy shells on a baking sheet at 350 degrees for 5-7 minutes.
Fill it up
This is your chance to think outside the taco. Although taco night is a weekly occurrence, we switch up the filling to keep things interesting. We will use a ground turkey or extra lean beef, shrimp (grilled on the BBQ with olive oil and seasoning), or if it’s Meatless Monday on taco night, we will use the lentil and brown rice mix from Eden Organic (as recommended to me by a wise vegan friend).
Sauces and Sides
If your family has varying spice preferences, make two batches of filling. Go crazy with the hot sauce and taco seasoning in one batch and keep it mild in the other. I use a tablespoon of low-sodium taco seasoning and a few tablespoons of sweet chili sauce when making the kids’ version (when I don’t have sweet chili, I will substitute with ketchup). You can also amp up the flavour with different types of salsa!
Don’t forget a good taco night needs its side dishes. We will add a flavourful rice dish or some refried beans. I’ll also put a bowl of tortilla chips on the table with some fresh guacamole.. In the summer, I make my avocado and black bean dip to go with chips.
Textured and tasty
One of the best things about a taco is the mixture of flavours, textures and temperatures that land in your mouth with each bite. Get creative with your toppings. Mix up the cheeses and types of lettuce. Put out bowls of beans or corn. Pump up the veggies with avocado slices, shredded carrots, and julienned bell peppers. And, don’t forget the sour cream, Tabasco sauce and fresh cilantro!
A taco is just as delicious in a lunch box the next day. I often make extra of everything and put it together as a make-your-own-taco in the lunch boxes. Keep the salsas and sour cream separate to avoid the dreaded soggies. And put down a layer of lettuce to protect the wrap from the meat while it’s waiting to be eaten. I find the tortilla wraps are better for school lunches. I poke a skewer through them to keep them together and avoid big messes.
Go ahead and celebrate National Taco Day at your house.
The cheering will be music to your ears.