Here is a little-known fact about us: we LOVE tacos. I mean, we really love tacos. On our whirlwind month-long trip from Arizona to Florida to get to David’s RV tech program (with a short detour through Georgia to avoid Hurricane Dorian), we had tacos almost every day.
Unfortunately, tacos with celiac and food allergies can get a little complicated for such a simple yet perfect little food. I am a super-sensitive celiac, which means that it’s a little more difficult than simply looking for gluten-free labels on foods. I have been glutened several times by corn tortillas, because it’s nearly impossible to find certified gluten-free corn tortillas, or non-certified tortillas from companies that test their batches for the presence of gluten.
Legally in the U.S., naturally gluten-free foods processed on equipment shared with wheat may be labeled “gluten-free,” even if the final products are not tested for the presence of gluten. Mission Foods, the largest supplier of corn tortillas in the U.S., only tests a single batch of their tortillas four times per year! (I found this out after much back and forth with Mission Foods quality control department, trying to identify how I got glutened when I was being so careful.) Because corn is often processed on the same equipment used to process wheat, contamination is sometimes inevitable.
Consequently, getting truly gluten-free tacos can be a bit of a process.
Prior to RV life, we usually made tacos with Romaine lettuce leaves. We still love our lettuce leaf tacos, but a Costco-sized bag of heads of Romaine doesn’t fit as easily into an RV fridge.
Plus, we recently discovered Siete Foods and their line of delicious, grain-free products. They’re up to four different kinds of tortillas so far: cassava, almond, chickpea, and cashew. Plus they’ve got crunchy taco shells (with pumpkin seeds!), amazing tortilla chips, and a new line of bean and queso dips. All vegan and gluten-free, and most are autoimmune-friendly! (If you’re a nightshade-avoider, you should know that their queso and some of their chips do contain tomatoes.) Before we left Arizona, our local Sprouts had a buy-one-get-one sale, so we hit the road with a freezer full of tortillas.
We could eat these every day, but our wallet disagrees. Like most delicious foods that are truly safe for people with celiac, the cost is a bit high at about $1 per wrap.
On a whim, we picked up a bag of Otto’s Naturals Cassava Flour, and decided to experiment with DIY tortillas. I finally got to use my tortilla press, which has been sitting for over a year, but I made room for it in the RV when we moved in. I’m so glad I did! This worked out so well, and we’ve made tacos a dozen times now. I feel good about sharing this recipe with you.
- A tortilla press isn’t necessary because you can use your hands or a rolling pin to shape your tortillas, but it certainly makes the job a lot easier. I like cast iron because it takes less energy to flatten the tortilla, but if weight is a concern in your kitchen, you might want a plastic or aluminum press.
- Parchment paper or small silicone baking mats will make the tortilla-creation process a lot easier. You can even buy pre-cut parchment!
- A nonstick pan makes cooking a lot simpler, but well-seasoned cast iron could work, too.
- 1 cup cassava flour (we used Otto’s Naturals Cassava Flour)
- a pinch of salt
- 1 tbsp warm coconut oil
- 1/2 cup warm water
- Mix dry ingredients together. Add coconut oil and half of the water, mixing until combined, adding more water as necessary.
- Knead the dough with your hands (or a stand mixer, if you’re fancy), until it’s soft and smooth, and easily shaped into a ball without sticking to your hands. Let the dough rest, while you get your pan and tortilla press ready.
- Preheat the tortilla-cooking apparatus to medium or medium-high. (We’re in Florida right now– I prefer to cook at the lowest possible temperatures, just because it gets too hot!)
- Line tortilla press with a folded half-sheet of parchment, or whatever you’re using to line your press.
- Divide dough into 8 equal pieces, or just break off pieces about the size of a ping pong ball, and roll into balls.
- Press a ball of dough in the tortilla press, or use your hands to shape the dough, and cook over medium/medium-high heat for 1-2 minutes per side. The tortillas won’t darken much (unless they burn!), but they’ll become easier to handle, and they’ll puff up nicely in the pan as they cook.
- Stack cooked tortillas in a tortilla warmer or wrapped in a clean tea towel before serving.
- Cassava flour is NOT the same as tapioca starch. Tapioca starch comes from the same root vegetable as cassava flour (yucca), but it is starch which has been physically extracted from the yucca root, whereas cassava is the entire root ground into a flour. This means cassava has more fiber than tapioca, and it may be easier on blood sugar than tapioca. However, yucca is still a root (like a potato), so it may have similar effects as white potatoes and grain tortillas on the blood sugar.
- I’ve tried experimenting by adding almond flour to the mix, but this has made the dough more difficult to work with. Someday I hope to update this recipe with variations. I suspect this will require psyllium husk or xanthan/guar gum.
- According to Otto’s Naturals, cassava flour can be substituted 1:1 for wheat flour for just about all applications. I haven’t tried that, but it’s worked well in tortillas so far!
- These tortillas will last a day or two in the fridge, but will require reheating like most precooked tortillas, because they get fragile when cold.
- Taco fillings: We’re big fans of Beyond Meat’s new ground meat! But it can be hard to find, and runs about $10/pound, so we often make our own taco meat, or use black beans. Add lettuce, tomato, Daiya cheeze, and salsa or Siete’s new Habanero Hot Sauce.