Pork Tacos with Spicy Pepitas

It’s Taco Time!! I’m going to write this one quickly folks. My sweet, fantastic, wonderful husband is currently doing the dishes up from dinner while I get this new post together. Then we plan on spending the evening together, as it’s his last weekend in town before he leaves on a 2-3 week trip to Nunavut. So I’m going to speed this one along so I can attempt to be finished writing before the last dish is done.

I think you’ve heard this before: I love tacos. They really are one of the most brilliant dishes in existence. You can stuff so much into those soft and crispy shells. I used to be an unwavering hard-shell eater. I couldn’t even imagine that a taco’s tasty – and usually soft – contents, could be good in something that sounded remotely healthy. A flour tortilla shell (not deepfried) seemed texturally uninteresting to me. I like a little crunch with my Mexican-inspired meals. However, I started to come over to the soft-side when I realized that salty, crunchy toppings could be added to the filling to satisfy my desire for crunch. I deeply enjoy crisp cabbage in a soft taco, but what I’ve discovered to be really tasty are roasted & salted pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds).

A few years ago I came across a recipe for pork tacos in a Cooking Light magazine. To my delight cabbage and pepitas were fillings – meant to complement the pork, but I think they end up being the stars of the taco show. The slaw includes few quick additions: green onions, red peppers, lime juice, and jalepeno. Something about the lime seems to draw out a saltiness in the cabbage, even without the addition of any salt. And then the pepitas – quickly cooked in a pan with a few spices – pop in your mouth as you chew through the tacos. I know it’s supposed to be a Cooking Light recipe, and therefore I should watch my portions…they state a serving size is two tacos. But I can never help myself, and I always reach for just one last taco when these are what’s for dinner.

Pork Tacos with Slaw & Spicy Pepitas

Adapted from Cooking Light, October 2008

Spicy Pepitas*
1 cup unsalted pumpkin seed kernels
1 tsp canola oil
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp chipotle chili powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp salt & pepper

1 lb boneless, centre-cut pork chops
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp chipotle chili powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 Tbsp olive oil, divided
3 Tbsp fresh lime juice (approximately 1-2 limes), divided
1/2 of a red pepper
3-4 green onion
1/2 – 1 jalepeno pepper
8 oz packaged coleslaw (approximately 3 cups)
12 flour tortillas
sour cream, salsa, spicy pepitas to serve

Cut the pork into thin strips (approximately 1/4 – 1/8″ thick) against the grain. Stir the spices (ground cumin through pepper) together in a small bowl. Toss pork and spices together in a medium bowl until the pork is thoroughly covered with the spices. Set aside.

Meanwhile, combine ingredients for spicy pepitas in a small bowl. Pour contents into a non-stick pan and cook over medium heat until golden brown, approximately 8-10 minutes. Stir frequently. Remove pepitas from pan and cool completely.

Slice red pepper into thin strips. Slice green onions and mince jalepeno pepper. Lightly toss together peppers, green onions, coleslaw and 2 Tbsp lime juice in a medium bowl. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 – wrap flour tortillas in foil and place in oven. Heat for 10 minutes.

Heat 1/2 tsp olive oil non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Working in 3-4 batches, quickly fry the strips of pork in a single layer the pan for 2-3 minutes. Add another 1/2 tsp of olive oil after each batch. (this method is used to achieved a crispy, browned exterior on the pork – adding it all at once will steam the pork, and you won’t end up with as much of a desirable texture) Once all the pork is cooked, add it back to the pan and pour over 1 Tbsp of lime juice.

Serve tortillas topped with pork, slaw, spicy pepitas. Top with sour cream and salsa if desired.

Serves 4-6.

* Even though they are mouth-wateringly delicious, you’re bound to have leftover pepitas. They taste divine on a salad with spinach or romaine topped with avocados, tomatoes, peppers, feta, and a lemon & olive oil dressing.


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  1. #1 by Gorging George on July 29, 2011 - 7:02 pm

    Try these with the salsa my cousin made to accompany them!

  2. #2 by Gorging George on August 7, 2011 - 12:02 pm

    A friend recently tried these with broccoli slaw – great idea!

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