Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you should be familiar with at least one meat substitute by now. Tofu has been around since BC times, but today we’ve surpassed coagulated and pressed soy milk. Tofu, tempeh, and TVP (textured vegetable protein), all derived from soy, are now found in most grocery chains as protein sources for vegans and meat-eaters alike. Seitan, made from washing away starch in wheat dough, is a gluten based alternative currently in vogue.
In today’s society, we are touted daily with diet and/or lifestyle adjustments. Health, environmental, and animal cruelty concerns are commonplace when cooking up the next meal. With a disposition of moderation or abstinence surrounding soy and gluten, the following are now put into action at vegetarian tables: legumes, reserved liquid from cooked legumes, mushrooms, lentils, nuts, fruits, vegetables, flax seeds, chia seeds, and nutritional yeast (inactive yeast). Alternatives, once considered bleak substitutes, have morphed into an experimental feast. Topping a pie with whipped chickpea liquid (aquafaba), devouring a mushroom and lentil burger, and filling a taco shell with jackfruit carnitas are now preparations in their own right.
Jackfruit, native to Asia, came into the picture and made the seemingly impossible, possible. Tender and stringy, the largest tree-born fruit also offers up undeniable flavor absorbing capabilities. With an uncanny ability to mimic seasoned chicken and pork, it’s a no-brainer for BBQ and tacos. While one can certainly work up whole jackfruit, it’s easier and quicker to purchase young jackfruit in water or brine (not syrup). We buy ours at our local asian grocery, but it’s also available at some chains, or on Amazon here .
In an effort to pare down processed food, gluten, and soy in our own home, we turned to whole foods as a means for sustenance. Our homemade chickpea scrambles, southwestern walnut and lentil stuffed peppers, and buffalo style mushroom burgers now take precedence over their processed grocery store counterparts. While it does take a bit longer to prepare, we know what we’re eating. With a few extra minutes in the kitchen during the week, and some planning on Sunday, we have the ability to check arbitrary ingredients at the door.
Jackfruit is an ingredient we bank on time and time again. Taking full advantage of its properties, we use it in everything from kale pesto pasta to BBQ burritos. This tostada is one of our all time favorites. Tender carnitas style jackfruit, cool watermelon pico, and crunchy radish and cabbage are piled on top of a crispy corn tortilla. The opposing flavors and textures will leave you feeling happy and satisfied. We hope you enjoy this pleasing dish as much as we do!