An interviewer recently asked me about my favorite things to do with canned beans, and when I mentioned tacos, he was so surprised (“I’ve never thought about that!”) that it surprised me, too. Beans and tortillas are such natural partners in my world — I’ve been eating them together since my West Texas childhood — that I hadn’t really thought this might not be true for everyone.

As convenient as canned beans are, if you’ve cooked a pot from dried, as I instructed a couple of weeks ago, you’ve got an even more flavorful taco filling, not to mention options for several other recipes to use from that pot.

I designed these tacos to use red kidney beans, because they’re so meaty and rich, but feel free to use pinto beans (especially if you’ve got some in the freezer from that pot you made), black beans, chickpeas — or any favorite legume, really. When you combine them with earthy poblano peppers, pickled onions, pumpkin seeds and feta (traditional or concocted from tofu), they make for a surprisingly memorable meal.

Scale and get a printer-friendly recipe here.

Ingredients

  • For the pickled onions:
  • 1/4 cup fresh grapefruit juice
  • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 cup white distilled vinegar
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • For the filling:
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 poblano peppers, stemmed, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch slices
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika (pimenton)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt, or more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or more to taste
  • 1 3/4 cups cooked or canned red kidney beans (may substitute pinto, black beans or chickpeas), drained but not rinsed
  • Six (6-inch) corn tortillas
  • 1/2 cup store-bought salsa
  • 1/2 cup Herb-Marinated Tofu Feta (see related recipe) or store-bought vegan or dairy feta, crumbled
  • Toasted pumpkin seeds (pepitas), for serving

Step 1

Make the pickled onions: In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the grapefruit juice, orange juice, lime juice and vinegar. Bring to a boil, turn off the heat and add the red onion. Let cool in the pan. (To store what you don’t use for this recipe, transfer the onions and marinade to a quart-size Mason jar and refrigerate for up to 3 weeks.)

Step 2

Make the filling: In a large skillet over medium heat, heat the oil until it shimmers. Add the poblanos, onion and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables start to soften, about 4 minutes. Sprinkle in the cumin, cinnamon, paprika, salt and pepper and cook until the spices are very fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the beans, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook just until warmed through.

Taste, and add more salt and pepper if needed. Turn off the heat and cover to keep warm.

Step 3

Warm the tortillas in a dry skillet over medium-high heat for a few seconds on each side, then wrap them in foil.

Step 4

To assemble the tacos, lay out the tortillas and top each with some of the bean-poblano mixture. Top the beans and peppers with a spoonful of the salsa, feta, pumpkin seeds and a few slices of pickled onions. Serve hot.

Adapted from “Cool Beans” by Joe Yonan (Ten Speed Press, 2020).

Tested by Joe Yonan; email questions to voraciously@washpost.com.

Scale and get a printer-friendly version of the recipe here. Get the recipe for the Herb-Marinated Tofu Feta here. Get the recipe for the pot of beans here.

Did you make this recipe? Take a photo and tag us on Instagram with #eatvoraciously.

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Nutrition

Calories: 366; Total Fat: 14 g; Saturated Fat: 2 g; Cholesterol: 0 mg; Sodium: 751 mg; Carbohydrates: 49 g; Dietary Fiber: 12 g; Sugars: 3 g; Protein: 12 g.