Mother Earth Living

Salvadorian-Inspired Tacos Recipe

Wake up your taste buds with this seasonal taco recipe, featuring a flavorful cabbage slaw that will become a staple ingredient for your tacos.



  • 1 small green cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 2 carrots, grated
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 handful cilantro (stems and leaves), finely chopped
  • 3 to 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons honey or maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon oregano, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon Aleppo pepper flakes (or red chili flakes)
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • One 15-ounce can pinto beans
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper flakes (or red chili flakes)

For Tacos

  • 8 soft corn tortillas
  • 8 slices cheddar cheese
  • 4 lime wedges (optional)


  • Preheat oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • For curtido: Combine cabbage, carrots, onion, cilantro, and garlic in a large bowl and mix well.
  • Mix water, apple cider vinegar, honey, oregano, pepper flakes, and salt in a small bowl.
  • Drizzle wet ingredients over cabbage mixture, and mix together as you would a salad and its dressing.
  • For refried beans: While curtido is marinating, begin refried beans. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.
  • Add garlic and allow to lightly caramelize in pan.
  • Add pinto beans, cumin, salt, and pepper flakes (use same type of pepper flakes as you used for the curtido to keep thread of taste).
  • Stirring occasionally, allow beans to cook for 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from heat and mash immediately with a potato masher.
  • For tacos: On a baking sheet, line up tortillas so they aren’t overlapping (you may need 2 sheets). Place 1 cheese slice atop each, and place in oven for 2 to 5 minutes, watching closely until cheese is just melted.
  • Top warm tortillas and cheese with a generous layer of refried beans, followed by a heaping spoonful of curtido. Squeeze lime juice over each, if using, then serve immediately.

These tacos feature the bright and tangy Salvadorian cabbage slaw known as “curtido.” The curtido recipe will make more than you’ll need for tacos. It keeps beautifully when refrigerated for up to a week, getting more flavorful each day. Added to a soft taco alongside the creaminess of melted cheese and the warmth of refried beans, the curtido will shine as your new go-to for Taco Night. I offer unending gratitude to Chef Peter Varkonyi of Brownsville, Vermont, for my introduction to this slaw.

Discover more delicious, seasonal recipes in Green Recipes for Late Spring.

Kate MacLean is a writer, farmer, and mother in central Vermont. She’s currently developing a children’s book with her sister about the farm on which they both live, and the silly animals that keep them working from dawn ’til dusk.

  • Published on Apr 9, 2019
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