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Low-Waste Pulled Chicken Tacos Recipe

March 31, 2022

It’s better to toss your food scraps in the compost bin than the trash, but what’s even better than that? Repurposing them into dinner. 

With a few staples you probably have on hand, carrot peels can become crispy taco shells, while tomato and onion trimmings transform into salsa. In this case, the tacos are filled with pulled chicken from a leftover whole roasted bird, but you can easily swap in any protein that’s hanging out in the fridge — sliced steak, ground turkey, baked tofu, or cooked beans. If you’re reducing food waste, you’re doing it right.

Low-Waste Pulled Chicken Tacos Recipe

Yield: 6 servings
Total time: 1 hour

Ingredients

For the tacos:

1 ½ cup reserved, clean carrot peels, chopped fine but not mushy
2 eggs, beaten
3 tablespoons breadcrumbs, panko, or almond meal
½ cup shredded cheese (Mexican blend or dairy-free “cheese” shreds)
1 teaspoon Thrive Market Organic Taco Seasoning 
Thrive Market Avocado Oil Spray

For the veggie scrap salsa:

2 tablespoons Thrive Market Non-GMO Grapeseed Oil  
1 cup tomato scraps (ends, peels, anything you’d usually throw away)
¼ cup jalapeno (or any chile pepper) scraps (tops, stems, ribs)
½ cup onion scraps (soft inner peels and ends)
4 garlic cloves, peeled
1/3 cup cilantro stems
1 teaspoon kosher salt 

For the filling:

1 ½ cups leftover cooked chicken, picked from a whole bird (light, dark, and back meat; oysters, wings, etc.)
Veggie scrap salsa
1 avocado, pitted, peeled, and sliced (optional)
3 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves, stems reserved (optional)
Sliced red onion (optional)
¼ cup cotija or feta cheese, crumbled (optional)

Instructions

Preheat oven to 375℉. Place a steamer basket inside a large saucepan. Fill the pot with about two inches of water. Bring to a boil. 

When the water is boiling, place the chopped carrot peels in the steamer basket and steam for 4 to 5 minutes, until cooked through. Remove from the heat and drain on paper towels. Press the towels firmly to dehydrate the carrots as much as possible. 

Place cooked, dried carrot peels in a large bowl. Add egg, breadcrumbs or almond meal, seasoning, and cheese. Stir well to combine and set aside to rest for 5 minutes. 

Meanwhile, make the salsa: Heat a cast iron skillet or heavy-bottomed pan over medium- high heat and add the oil. Add tomatoes, jalapeno, onion, and garlic and sauté for 5 to 7 minutes until caramelized, partially charred, and tender. (It’s okay if there are some black spots; that will add flavor to the finished salsa.)  

Transfer the cooked veggies to a blender along with the cilantro and salt and blend on high until smooth. If needed, add a touch of water or chicken broth to help the mixture blend better. Adjust seasoning as needed. Pour salsa into a bowl and set aside. 

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray. Portion the carrot mixture into 3-tablespoon-sized balls and place on the parchment. Coat another piece of parchment paper with cooking spray and place it on top of the carrot mixture balls. 

Using a rolling pin or bottle, roll the balls into large, thin disks to form tortillas. Remove the parchment and place the baking sheet in the oven for 8 to 10 minutes. Remove, place each carrot tortilla on a taco form, and return to the oven for an additional 10 to 15 minutes.

Note: No taco form? No problem; make tostadas instead by simply baking the carrot tortillas for 25 minutes straight. Remove when they’re starting to brown and crisp at the edges. Allow to cool on the baking sheet. 

While the tortillas are baking, make the filling: Place leftover cooked chicken in a bowl and warm in the microwave (or on the stovetop). Pour a generous amount of salsa over the chicken and stir to coat completely. 

Portion the chicken into the cooled tortillas, then top with sliced avocado, reserved cilantro leaves, sliced red onion, and crumbled cheese. 

Ready to try another low-waste dish? Check out this veggie burger recipe.

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Kirby Stirland

Kirby Stirland is a writer, editor, and New York transplant living in Los Angeles.

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