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Put the rinsed beans in a pan with a tablespoon of oil and the bay leaves and cover with water. Bring to the boil and simmer for ten minutes. Warm the remaining oil in a shallow pan, add the onions and cook till soft and golden. Add the garlic, paprika and cayenne and cook till the garlic is soft, about 4 minutes. Add the tomatoes and their juice and chilli and simmer for 10 minutes. Drain the beans and add to the sauce. Taste and season with salt, pepper and wine vinegar. Simmer rapidly till thick, about 10 minutes.
To make the chilli salsa
Chop the tomatoes roughly, include their skins and seed but take out the cores. Dump them in the blender with the garlic and chillies. Whizz briefly to produce a rough sauce and then stir in the coriander leaves. Warm the taco shells according to the packet instructions, then bring it all to the table for everyone to serve themselves. Don’t forget the serviettes.
I’m not going to lie to you and pretend that taco shells are healthy. This meal is not as healthy as a salad, but there are days for salad and there are days for tacos. This recipe is perfect for those days. Three of us like this every bit as much as beef tacos, and the nameless one who complains that proper tacos are made with beef has been outvoted.
The fun of tacos comes from the delicious crunchiness, the shameless messiness, and the fact that you get to compile them yourself. So many yummy components. Will the cheese taste better if it’s touching the beans? Can I squeeze in more sour cream if I put it in first? Every diner is experimenting, with messy faces and dripping fingers, passing each other the bowls of ingredients in a happy confusion.
You may know about the health benefits of garlic (anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal) but did you know that raw garlic is better for you than cooked? The chilli salsa contains raw garlic but it doesn’t taste too strong, I think it’s because the tomatoes. Just as soaking in vinegar takes the edge off onions, the acidity in the tomatoes takes away the strong burning taste of the garlic. (I use the same technique in salad dressings too, it’s a great way to get more raw garlic into your diet. Just crush the garlic and leave it to sit with whatever vinegar you’re using, adding the oil a little later.)
Before I discovered this veggie version, I always made this Hairy Bikers beef chilli if I was making tacos. Sometimes I’ll make a double batch of beef chilli, serve half with rice and freeze the other half to have with tacos later. If you are a fan of beef chilli but usually rely on premade flavour sachets, give this recipe a try. It’s so easy and tastes much better than the sachets.