Fun in the Kitchen with Kids: Cauliflower Tacos
How to get kids to eat their vegetables? Here’s what doesn’t work: making mealtime a war of wills. You may win the cauliflower war today, but your child is likely to avoid cauliflower forever as an adult (1).
What are some strategies that do work? Along with modeling your own enjoyment of vegetables, involving children in age-appropriate preparation tasks, and letting children even play with their food are all effective.
Here’s a recipe closely based on one from Smitten Kitchen, a site for great recipes and great writing, that combines these strategies – you’ll love it, and kids are likely to love being involved as well with the various prep steps (see note #1)
Simple Cauliflower Tacos
- 2 tablespoons red wine or balsamic vinegar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons cold water
- 1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar
- Kosher or other coarse salt
- 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large cauliflower, trimmed, chopped small, including core
- Red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 lime, halved (see note #2)
- 1 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 12 small (4 to 5-inch) or 8 medium (7-inch) corn or flour tortillas
- 1/2 to 1 avocado, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup crumbled cotija or feta cheese (optional)
- Chopped fresh cilantro
- Hot sauce and/or pickled jalapeños
- Other possible toppings: lettuce, tomato, sliced red bell pepper, cooked chicken, sliced radish, roasted pumpkin seeds
- Heat oven to 450 degrees F.
- Pickle onion: Combine vinegar, water, sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a small bowl. Add onion and toss to coat. Set aside until needed.
- Coat large baking sheet with 3 tablespoons olive oil. Add cauliflower to pan, sprinkle with 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, red pepper flakes (to taste), and cumin and toss to coat. Roast for 25 to 30 minutes, tossing pieces at the 15- minute mark so they take on a deep brown crisp on as many sides as possible. Remove from oven and immediately squeeze the juice from half a lime over the tray. Push the cauliflower to one side of the pan, and add the black beans to the other side, so they warm a bit before serving.
- Meanwhile, heat your tortillas. Wrap them tightly in foil and place the packet in the oven for 5 minutes. Keep them warm in a covered dish until ready to assemble.
- Place the different foods (tortillas, onions, cauliflower, beans, avocado, and cilantro) in separate bowls, and allow each person at the table to assemble (or choose ingredients for) their tacos. To encourage kids to try everything, you might want to have a competition of who chooses the most ingredients for their taco or who makes the most colorful taco. You get the idea.
- The original recipe recommends that to assemble tacos, spoon cauliflower and beans onto a warmed tortilla. Add avocado, pickled red onion, cotija, cilantro, and hot sauce to taste. Serve with remaining lime half in wedges.
Note #1: Kid-friendly steps (depending on age):
- Help choose toppings
- Measure, pour, &/or stir the ingredients for the pickled onions
- Measure &/or add the oil and seasonings to the baking pan. Pour in the cauliflower, and shmush around the mixture.
- Wrap the tortillas in the foil.
- Add (or help add) the cauliflower, beans, avocado, onions, cilantro, cheese, and other optional toppings each in their own bowl.
Note #2: Before you cut the lime, if you microwave it for 10 seconds or so, you’ll be able to extract more juice.
(1)Harris HA, Fildes A, Mallan KM, Llewellyn CH. Maternal feeding practices and fussy eating in toddlerhood: a discordant twin analysis. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2016 Jul 13;13:81. doi: 10.1186/s12966-016-0408-4. PMID: 27412445; PMCID: PMC4944306.