Grilled Cauliflower and Queso Blanco Tacos

Happy Summer Solstice!  After a cold and damp spring, it is nice to finally have some warm temps.  Maybe even a little too warm for the start of summer, but I don’t want to complain.  In the blink of an eye, it will be winter again, and I’ll be wishing for beach days long gone.

Luckily these warmer temps bring an opportunity to turn off the oven and get out the grill.  Or in my case, the grill pan since my apartment doesn’t permit grilling *sigh*.  At least my Le Creuset Bistro Grill gives the flavor of an outdoor grill.  It’s also really easy to clean.  I’ve had other grill pans that weren’t worth using due to the cleanup involved after.

I was inspired to make these tacos after seeing a recipe that Half Baked Harvest shared.  First, I should start off by stating that I was very skeptical of cauliflower and it’s new found fame.  It seems to be following in the footsteps of kale (which I was also a skeptic of at first).  Up until this point, my only experience with cauliflower was cauliflower rice.  I was surprised by how good it was, but it was not enough to convince me that cauliflower could be the star of the show.  As in, cauliflower “steak”(what???!!!) or cauliflower “wings”.  How could cauliflower replace beef or the chicken in wings?!  Vegan cheese is one thing, but this is a whole other level of food trickery!

I finally tried buffalo style cauliflower a few months ago at the New York Botanical Garden Hudson Garden Grill, which is a delicious farm to table style restaurant.  I’m so glad I did.  The cauliflower was crispy and spicy and barely needed it’s blue cheese accompaniment. Now I don’t think I could go so far as to say that this would become a replacement for regular wings, but clearly I now understood all of the hype around this unassuming veggie, which brings me back to the tacos.

The original recipe has you roast the cauliflower and serve with fried halloumi cheese.  I decided to grill it, and since my local grocery stores don’t carry halloumi, I used queso blanco as a substitute.  It also has a high melting point so I was able to grill it before serving with the tacos.  I love halloumi and when I need another cheese fix, I think I’ll order some from Amazon Fresh.

It seems that cauliflower tends to take on whatever flavor you’re imparting on it.  So the cumin, smoked paprika and chili powder definitely gave it the right Mexican kick.  It also stays tender on the inside when you cook it.  Be sure to serve the tacos with lots of guacamole, a good salsa (I like Joe’s or Shoprite Kitchen’s) and fresh cilantro.  I will definitely make these again and plan to make buffalo style cauliflower in the upcoming weeks! Are you a cauliflower convert yet?

Ingredients 
1 large head of cauliflower, cut into florets
1 tablespoons sesame
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon kosher salt and pepper
8 ounces queso blanco (or halloumi cheese), sliced
8 tortillas (I like La Tortilla Factory’s Handmade Style Corn Tortillas or Chi-Chi’s Flour and Corn Tortillas)
Guacamole
Salsa
Fresh cilantro

In a large bowl, toss together the cauliflower, oils, paprika, chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper. Grill cauliflower over medium high heat until each side has a nice sear.  Transfer to a baking tray and keep warm.  Grill or pan fry the queso blanco (use foil if using a grill) and cook 1-2 minutes per side until the cheese begins to melt.  Heat a small skillet over medium heat and add a drizzle of olive oil. Transfer slices to tray with cauliflower.  Heat the tortillas using your desired method.  I like to heat them on the grill pan. To assemble the tacos, layer the cauliflower and queso blanco in the tortillas and top with guacamole, salsa and fresh cilantro.

 

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