Savoury Mains

Mushroom & Collard Tacos w/ Roasted Eggplant Sauce

Its been a while. A long while, actually. I’ve missed this space and all of you lovely friends and readers, but it was a necessary pause. I needed time to re-settle, figure out a direction, and contemplate what I am really doing with this space over here.

I’ve felt conflicted for a long time about what to share and how to share it. When I started this blog food was my ultimate hobby, the thing I turned to in stress and shared with pride. Some of my fondest memories – and I know so many of you can relate to this – centre around baking cookies late at night, the kitchen dim but warm, the air scented with fat and sweet. And it’s not that I’ve fallen out of love with food, not at all (never). It’s just that doing this blog started to feel like a chore. I never want to share work that I’m making out of obligation. I want to share work that I am passionate about and itching to pass along to eager hands. A large part of this is that working full time (+) and taking an online class is consuming. Not in a bad way, but in a very real I-crash-on-my-couch-at-the-end-of-the-day kind of way. Squeezing these blog posts into weekends started to feel onerous. And that made me sad.

Another side of this story is that I have so much more I want to share besides food, and I don’t know how, or even if this is the place for it. I know that I am a bigger dreamer than I am a doer – I have thousands of sparkling ideas circling around my mind at every moment and most of those never come to fruition. I am looking for that balance, the ability to dream and work in tandem. And it’s hard to do.

After my near month away I have a new rekindled spark for this blog and the recipes I want to make. I’ve also started drawing more consistently, photographing things other than food, reading with intention, practicing yoga, and trying to reclaim a now 5 year abandoned violin practice. I am bursting with creative energy and trying to fit everything into those small gaps and glimmers of free time. There are times when I can literally feel my fingers radiating outwards itching to create, and then there are the days that I need to watch 5 consecutive episodes of Survivor and drown myself in chocolate and tea. But most of all it feels good to be back here.

A huge part of why I come back again and again to share what I cook, bake, and think is because of the immensely supportive and loving community that exists in this online world. I have met true friends, people I wish I could meet in person (some of whom I have), and been constantly inspired by the wide range of work everyone does. It’s really the most beautiful thing to have come about from this little project and that’s why I want to keep it up. I don’t want to lose those connections, and I want this to be a place everyone can come to find that same feeling.

Would you believe that I made it to the end of the post, was about to hit publish, and then realized I wrote nothing about the actual food?

We’ve been eating tacos a lot around here lately. They’re so simple and always completely satisfying, especially with a really good sauce. I went to the farmers market last weekend and couldn’t resist buying a bag of these beautiful collards. Another favourite lately: sautéing mushrooms with red wine vinegar. Mushrooms are one of those magical foods that absorb the flavours you’re cooking with so well. I’ve been loving the acidity of the vinegar with the meatiness of the mushroom, and that flavour combo really comes through in this dish.

What you’re all here for (or at least should be) is this sauce. It’s almost a take on baba ganoush, but also close to a classic tahini-miso dressing. Like those two had a baby. That’s what this would be. It really hits the spot. Smokey eggplant with umami miso and the brightness of fresh lemon. Believe me I was scraping the blender for every last bit.

I hope you make this! Let me know and as always tag @spiceandsprout to show me what you create.

Mushroom & Collard Tacos w/ Roasted Eggplant Sauce

Serves 2

Ingredients

Mushroom & Collard Tacos

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 large cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 5 collard leaves, washed
  • 1/2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • black pepper
  • 4 – 5 taco shells
  • Toppings: sliced red cabbage, toasted sesame seeds

Roasted Eggplant Sauce 

  • 1 large eggplant
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tbsp miso
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/3 – 1/2 cup water

Notes

Preheat oven to 400 and line a baking tray with aluminum foil. Prick the eggplant all around with a fork and place on the baking tray. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 – 35 minutes, until soft and tender.

While the eggplant is baking you can start making the filling. Rinse the collard leaves and then remove the leave from the stems (you can discard the stems). Roughly chop the leaves and set aside. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a pan over medium-low heat. When the oil is hot add in the sliced onion and sauté for a few minutes, until soft. Add in the sliced mushrooms and continue to sauté. Next, add in the garlic, smoked paprika, and collard greens. Add the red wine vinegar and soy sauce and continue to cook until the collards are soft and tender. Season with black pepper and keep warm over low heat while you prepare the sauce.

To make the sauce slice open the cooked eggplant and scoop out the insides. They should be mushy and easy to remove. Add the scooped out eggplant to a blender along with tahini, lemon juice, miso, smoked paprika, and 1/3 cup water. Blend on high, scraping down the sides and adding more water as needed until you have a smooth sauce. It should be relatively thick but still pourable.

To assemble, heat the taco shells in a well oiled pan on each side until soft. Add desired amount of filling and top with sliced red cabbage, toasted sesame seeds, and eggplant sauce. Enjoy!

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  • Ruby
    January 29, 2018 at 6:03 am

    I am just in love with everything about this post. First of all, that sauce is my absolute food dream come true. I went through a phase where I ate roasted eggplant drizzled with tahini sauce weekly, so to put all of that in ONE sauce? Perfection.
    And I can soooo relate to everything you’re feeling + saying about the ups and downs of creativity and how to channel it all. Being someone who is always following multiple passions myself, I would of course love to read and see more of the other things you are pursuing, but I also know that a lot of that happens offline and sometimes needs to stay that way. It’s always a bit of a balancing act, isn’t it? I am so excited to see what comes from all of this reflection for you! I feel like we are creative kindred spirits in a lot of ways <3

    • Maya
      January 30, 2018 at 7:53 pm

      Ruby! Thank you for all of your kind and beautiful words. First off, yes to the roasted eggplant drizzled with tahini! I pretty much drizzle tahini on everything so of course I would love that. I totally agree that sharing creative pursuits is a balancing act. I never want to share something I don’t feel ready to put out into the world, but I also get so excited that I want to be able to talk about what I am doing/making. And yes! We are totally creative kindred spirits. I always feel that way when I read your writing and posts <3

  • Liz Ingraham
    January 19, 2018 at 4:34 pm

    I’ve missed you Maya! Your blog is truly one of my favorite blogs to read – I love how thoughtful and passionate you are. I absolutely understand the need to take a break though. I’ve totally been there before! Follow your gut and whatever you decide to share, I’ll definitely be following along 🙂

    • Maya
      January 21, 2018 at 10:31 pm

      Aw, Liz! Thank you. That means so much to me! I am so glad that we’ve been able to meet and create this friendship through our online spaces <3

  • Sarah | Well and Full
    January 18, 2018 at 1:46 pm

    I’ve always loved the beautiful recipes you’ve shared here, Maya, and I’d love to follow along with any other creative pursuits that you’re passionate about. I don’t know if you’ve felt this way, but I certainly have – so, even if you have pageviews and readers on your blog, you don’t always know what’s in their minds, and how they are appreciating what you do. And as much as I love to reach people, the underlying reason I create recipes and posts is because I love food, I love photography, and I love writing. At the times it’s felt like a chore, I’ve disconnected with social media, spent a few days eating for fun and reading my favorite cookbooks, and really re-centered on why I do what I do. I guess the point I’m trying to make is that you should absolutely do what you’re passionate about – food related or not – in any of your venues. And I’ll definitely be following along while you do 🙂

    • Maya
      January 21, 2018 at 10:29 pm

      Sarah, thank you so much for this! You’re so sweet. And yes, I totally feel what you’re saying. It’s hard to do something that feels very communal in some aspects yet also quite lonely. I often find that when I disconnect and make food not for the blog, I get excited all over again and want to share it. So that is really good advice, and a good reminder. Sending hugs and thank you for the endless support! <3