Spring Veggie Tacos / by Chelsea Zwieg

Happy Cinco de Mayo! (Almost) May is my favorite month of the year. Most of my family has birthdays in the month of May, including me. And while I don't have many feelings either way about turning 23 (is there a more boring age to turn?) I'm not one to be put off by a good slice of birthday cake. Add to all those birthdays some anniversaries, Mother's Day, Memorial Day and May is pretty much just a mandate to put your party shoes on. And I love it. 

The other good thing about May? There is spring produce coming out of every grocery store and farmers market like it's going out of style. Leave it to me to get so over-the-top excited about things like asparagus and radishes, but isn't anyone else a little done with winter's endless stream of root vegetables? I love me some sweet potatoes but enough is enough. 

A little tangent: yesterday I was reading in a park by my house and group of kids on a field trip/nature hike (man, I do not miss school) came along the path where I was sitting. They were identifying plants and their nature cruise captain/tour guide pulled some green leaves out of the ground and says "These are ramps. There kind of like onions but they only grow in the spring." Are these the same ramps that sell for $20/pound? That I've never actually tried because they are so elusive and expensive and beyond my culinary reach? Also, why on earth are they so expensive when the hill by my favorite reading picnic table is covered with them? Not wanting to be arrested by the park ranger police or pick what I think she was pointing to and accidentally end up with some poison oak tacos, I let the mysterious ramps be. But what do you guys think? Will a lighting rod strike me if I pick my own ramps? What are your favorite things to cook with ramps? 

Even without ramps, these spring veggie tacos are exactly what I want to be eating at this time of year. They start with a spicy, shredded enchilada chicken but then are packed with everything good and fresh you can find at the grocery store, tossed with lime juice and bursting with flavor. The recipe calls for asparagus, corn and radishes but adding in other veggies like sugar snap peas or spring onions would only make them better. Add some chips and guacamole and a margarita and you are ready for Cinco de Mayo, or one of the other 9,000 May celebrations if you're in my family. 

Spring Veggie Tacos

Serves 4

Ingredients 

  • 1 lb. boneless skinless chicken tenders
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 2 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 cup enchilada sauce
  • 1 bunch asparagus, ends trimmed
  • 2 ears sweet corn
  • 1/4 cup radishes, very small diced (about 3-4 radishes) 
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1 lime
  • 8 corn tortillas

Instructions 

  • Char corn cobs over a hot grill, in a grill pan or, my favorite method, over an open gas stove flame. Slice kernels off corn cobs and combine with radishes in cilantro in a small bowl. Add juice of half a lime and toss to coat. 
  • Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat with a small drizzle of olive oil. Add chicken in a single layer. Mix chili powder, paprika, 1 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper together and sprinkle half of the mixture of the the chicken. Once the chicken has cooked halfway through, about 2 minutes, flip chicken pieces and sprinkle with remaining spice mixture. Continue cooking until chicken is cooked through, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and shred chicken using two forks. Return pan to medium heat, add enchilada sauce and simmer, stirring until chicken is coated, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat, transfer chicken to a bowl and wipe out pan. 
  • Heat pan over medium heat with another drizzle of oil. Add asparagus, in two batches if necessary depending on the size of your pan, and sprinkle with 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp pepper. Continue cooking, flipping occasionally, until asparagus is tender. Remove from pan squeeze juice from the other half of the lime over the spears. Toss to coat.  
  • Fill each tortilla with equal amounts of chicken, asparagus and corn salsa. Top with any remaining cilantro, thinly sliced radishes or queso fresco.