This Sunday we had taco salad, so that was good. But it was also a really good Waco day, and that’s even better.
If you know me in real life, or if you’ve been following me online for a while, you probably already know this: my relationship with Waco is complicated.And I’m not special in that respect.
At the farmers’ market this weekend I ran into a friend I used to work with (way back in college when I served beers and Tuaca to law students till 2 in the morning and smoking in bars was still legal), and she told me she had to move back to Waco from Austin because she just couldn’t be away. They call it the Waco vortex, always sucking you back in.
But that doesn’t mean we won’t complain about Waco—the way the city shuts down around 10pm, or the fact that we just got Uber, or that a hooved animal has gotten loose downtown enough times that we get them mixed up. Was that the time with the antelope, or the bull??
This is all to say that some days, I look around at the sprawling oak trees, the tight knit community, and I love living here. Other days, I couldn’t feel more cut off from “the actual world” and I exaggerate all the negative things about living here till I can’t see the good.
My husband will never let me forget the time I complained, “Why can’t we have just a nice park here like they have in Austin, where everyone lays around on the grass and reads and there’s a hike and bike?? You know, a real community place.” An hour later we were sitting on a blanket on the grass by the Brazos River in Cameron Park, which has miles and miles of hike and bike trails…while families picnicked all around us.
Somehow in that moment, Cameron Park just didn’t seem as nice as Austin’s Zilker Park, or those greens in Brooklyn you see on Instagram all the time. But part of that is just the fact that you get used to where you live, and everywhere else has a misty, sun-splashed, Instagrammy allure.
So we’ve been making a point to mix things up, cycle on the backroads, take new routes to get to familiar places, etc. It kinda feels like discovering a whole new town.
Today we were out on the bikes in Cameron Park, and since my husband is crazy and wants to do a sprint triathlon, we got home and jumped off the bikes to jog around our neighborhood. By the time we made it home I was so overheated I leapt straight into the pool (and then I got to take our outdoor shower for a testdrive!). It was a good “Waco day” today—in other words, I loved it here.
We refueled with about a bucket of hummus from Happy Harvest here in town, and then had these super refreshing taco salads.
Now, if you like the kinds of taco salads that are like nachos in disguise, this isn’t the salad for you. This one is perfect for lunch, when you want something satisfying but not heavy.
It’s best made with fresh tomato salsa (hello, first tomato crop!!), but you can use jarred salsa. And while you’ll see chickpeas here, black beans would make it more Mexican-style.
Note: This salad has a lot of components, so I recommend doubling the recipe and keeping all the ingredients separate in your fridge. That way you can assemble this salad quickly on a weekday or throw it all into your lunchbox throughout the week. Just make sure to keep the dressing and the salsa separate till you eat it!
- ----------------For the Dressing----------------
- ½ cup cashews, soaked for ~3 hours and drained
- 3 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon onion powder
- ¼ teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- Pinch salt
- ½ cup water
- ----------------For the Pico de Gallo----------------
- 2 medium tomatoes, roughly diced
- 2 Tablespoons red onion, roughly minced
- 1 handful cilantro, stems removed, chopped (about 2–3 Tablespoons when chopped)
- ¼ teaspoon cumin
- ¼ teaspoon paprika
- Pinch of salt
- Ground black pepper
- ----------------Spiced Chickpeas----------------
- 1 14 oz. can chickpeas (or bean of your choice)
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- ----------------Everything Else----------------
- ½ cup frozen corn
- 2 carrots, grated or shredded in a food processor
- 1 small cucumber, seeds removed, diced
- 2 handfuls corn chips
- To make the dressing, combine all ingredients and purée till smooth. Set aside until needed.
- To make the salsa, combine all ingredients and stir. Set aside until needed.
- To make the corn, microwave it or sauté it on low in a few Tablespoons of water until thawed and warm. Set aside until needed.
- To make the chickpeas (or beans), add drained and rinsed peas/beans to a skillet, along with the spices and a few Tablespoons of water. Sauté until the liquid is evaporated and the spiced coat the peas. Set aside until needed.
- In two bowls, divide the lettuce, carrots, cucumber, and crushed up chips. Top with the chickpeas/beans and corn, drizzle with dressing (you’ll have lots extra—use it for rice bowls or burritos!), and top with pico de gallo.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Serve immediately with extra chips on the side.
- Optional add ins: Guacamole, sliced avocado, vegan Mexican-style cheese
- If you are batch cooking this, store the lettuce, carrots, and cucumber together, and keep the pico de gallo, dressing, and chips separate until ready to serve.
The Waco Vegan is no longer updated. You can find me over at RandleBrowning.com instead.