roasted king oyster mushroom tacos w/ cacao chipotle sauce - The First Messpin it!roasted king oyster mushroom tacos w/ cacao chipotle sauce - The First Messpin it!roasted king oyster mushroom tacos w/ cacao chipotle sauce - The First Messpin it!roasted king oyster mushroom tacos w/ cacao chipotle sauce - The First Messpin it!
I think the universe has been sending out invitations to tell me secrets this week, but I’ve just been blowing it off to wash my hair or something. Lots of deep, intuitive feelings about career and life decisions that I just kept pushing down in an attempt to look/feel like I had all the answers. I had a cache of paperwork, decisions, and upcoming stuff that I had been sitting on and deliberating over for a couple weeks. These things were cluttering up my inbox, but they were also passive-aggressively shoving over my ability to stay present.

A couple mornings ago, on a total whim, I deleted Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest off of my phone and tablet in an attempt to shut out a bit of the noise. Then, I spent that day working on new recipes, drinking lots of tea, and listening to some of my favourite podcasts. I was in a good place of workflow and inspiration with hardly any distractions. That evening, when I started making dinner, I felt this unbelievable sense of clarity. I suddenly knew what course of action I needed to take in order to get back to that feeling of oneness with the world in front of me. It was powerful, and I’m still buzzing with the sense of relief.

When you work for yourself (or anyone really), it seems easy to get caught up in a lot of “What if” lines of questioning. What if it doesn’t work out? What if people hate me for doing this? What if a recipe doesn’t get X amount of likes on Instagram? What if this decision changes my work and career completely? What if this isn’t sustainable? Focusing on these queries really screwed me over in terms of productivity and overall happiness last week. Letting go of the puzzle pieces that didn’t fit was a lot easier to do once I started asking “Why?” instead.

Over five years ago, I had a job interview for a server position in a fine dining restaurant. The owner/proprietor didn’t care about how much experience I had or what restaurants I had worked in before. She wanted to know how passionate I was about hospitality and making connections with people, adding that if you love doing anything enough, some measure of prosperity will always follow. I didn’t last at that job (dropped a whole tray of fluted up champagne at someone’s wedding on the first day uuuuugh), but her message stuck with me for a while because it focused on the Why. Sometimes when I get off track and start thinking about my decisions solely as a means to an end, I try to bring myself back to that conversation.

On the day that I had those moments of clarity and relief, I made these tacos. The two events were most likely unrelated, but maybe just slightly linked in the cosmos? I had been thinking about doing a taco or something with king oyster mushrooms, but it felt a little predictable pre-superbowl. Then I went to the store, bought the mushrooms and tortillas, a doughnut for good measure, and now here we are. These vegan tacos are deceptively, weirdly meaty. I only say weird because I don’t typically chase after that unctuous texture with plant-based foods because it freaks me out a bit. The mild sweetness and soft, lightly chewy texture of king oyster mushrooms is a trip. Maybe I’m just really disconnected from animal protein, but I second guess myself when I eat these mushrooms. I douse them in a deep, smoky, and rich sauce that has spice, light sweetness, acidity, heft, and a sprinkle of cacao powder too. It’s complex and hard to stop eating. I know the ingredient list looks long, but most of it is pantry stuff (minus the dates and chipotle powder–but these can be had in small quantities in bulk shops). Let there be sauce, go team etc! ;)

roasted king oyster mushroom tacos w/ cacao chipotle sauce - The First Messpin it!roasted king oyster mushroom tacos w/ cacao chipotle sauce - The First Messpin it!roasted king oyster mushroom tacos w/ cacao chipotle sauce - The First Messpin it!roasted king oyster mushroom tacos w/ cacao chipotle sauce - The First Messpin it!roasted king oyster mushroom tacos w/ cacao chipotle sauce - The First Messpin it!
Print the recipe here!
Serves: Makes enough for 8-10 tacos with extra sauce
Notes: When I had my sauce all finished, I stirred in a tiny drizzle of maple syrup because I thought it needed a little extra balance. I realize that some people are really sensitive to sweetness, and I figured that the inclusion of dates might already be reason enough to deter some people here. Just mentioning this maple addition here because I didn’t include it in the ingredients–season this however you need to :)

1/4 cup sunflower or grapeseed oil
1 medium cooking onion, diced (about 1 cup diced onion)
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons dried chipotle chili powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1/4 cup tomato paste
2 Medjool dates, pitted and chopped
1 tablespoon almond butter (I prefer roasted here)
1 cup hot water
2 tablespoons cacao or unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon gluten-free tamari or coconut aminos

1 lb king oyster mushrooms, sliced
1 tablespoon sunflower or grapeseed oil
sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste
8-10 6-inch tortillas, warmed
1 ripe avocado, peeled and sliced
3-4 radishes, sliced thin
fresh cilantro leaves

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Make the sauce: Heat the sunflower oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring frequently, until quite soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, oregano, chipotle chili powder, cinnamon, cloves, and sesame seeds. Keep stirring and cooking until all spices are fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the tomato paste and stir for another minute or so, just to get some of the raw-ness out of the paste. Take the onion mixture off the heat and carefully transfer it to an upright blender.

To the onion mixture, add the chopped dates, almond butter, and hot water. Blitz this mixture on high until you have a smooth puree. Return the mixture to the saucepan, add the cacao powder and the tamari and stir to combine. Simmer the sauce for 10 minutes, stirring constantly. The sauce should be quite thick and glossy. Keep the sauce warm or at room temperature while you prepare the taco components.

Place the sliced king oyster mushrooms in a 9 x 13 baking dish (with at least 2-inch high sides). Toss the mushrooms with the sunflower oil, salt, and pepper. Cover the dish tightly with foil and place in the oven. Roast mushrooms for 20 minutes. After the 20 minute mark, remove the mushrooms from the oven and carefully take the foil off the top. Toss the mushrooms a bit and return the dish to the oven, uncovered, for another 10 minutes. The mushrooms should be soft and most of the juice should be dried up at this point. Keep them warm while you assemble the tacos.

For one taco, lay a warmed tortilla on a plate. Put a good spoonful of the roasted mushrooms down the center. Top the mushrooms with 1-2 tablespoons of the chipotle cacao sauce. Then, finish the taco with avocado slices, radishes, and cilantro. Repeat this process with the remaining ingredients. Serve warm.


  • eleanor03/02/2016 - 5:04 am

    I absolutely get what you mean about not trying to make plants taste/have the texture of meat, it weirds me out a lot too. even if I know it’s a plant, it still kind of makes me uncomfortable. also these look delicious, ahh! always look forward to your posts :)ReplyCancel

    • Laura04/02/2016 - 3:30 pm

      Yes! It’s so weird. I still can’t handle seitan because of this. It’s toooo similar :/

  • Tori03/02/2016 - 6:19 am

    These look delicious! mushrooms and radishes are some of my favorites!ReplyCancel

  • Christine03/02/2016 - 8:52 am

    I am pretty stoked about the fact that I have every ingredient listed here except oyster mushrooms, and I can quickly pick those up. I’m craving tacos lately and these look delicious! Also aren’t those convos that stick with you so good? If I were a “hang quotes on your wall” kind of person, those would be the ones to make it up. I hope it’s all sorting out for you Laura! :) ps I found blood oranges and double-checked just in case, and I can’t wait to finally make that lassi you posted!ReplyCancel

    • Laura04/02/2016 - 3:31 pm

      Thanks Christine! Happy you found some blood oranges, too (and that they weren’t grapefruits) ;)

  • Katrina03/02/2016 - 9:15 am

    That sauce sounds like a total dream!! Love these tacos!ReplyCancel

  • Jessica DeMarra03/02/2016 - 9:49 am

    I have to admit, I love this recipe spree you are on- a bit selfish of me since I know how much work goes into it but I can’t help feeling excited when I see your posts in my inbox. Not just for the recipes, but for the writing as well.

    Tacos are boss- despite my man telling that they are just sandwiches that are harder to eat, we have them regularly. Again, selfish because I love them so and more than willing to eat any with chipotle in it.

    Thanks for the reminder and permission to turn off the noise. Clarity can come from silence.ReplyCancel

    • Laura04/02/2016 - 3:33 pm

      Ahaha my man makes the same tacos = sandwiches argument all the time, but we still eat them a lot too. Glad you’re enjoying the posts :)

  • Abby @ The Frosted Vegan03/02/2016 - 10:34 am

    I’ve been struggling with this a bit too! I have some major changes coming my blog soon and I’m all over here like WHAT THE HECK AM I DOING while eating all the cookies and leftover cake. Your words and inspirational bad ass photo skillz are giving me that push I need today to just keep going, so props to you my lady! Also, I don’t love mushroom, but king oysters are the only ones I really tolerate!ReplyCancel

    • Laura04/02/2016 - 3:41 pm

      Lol you’re the only vegan I know that doesn’t like mushrooms and kale! Can’t wait to see what’s coming up with your site, Abby :)
      xo LReplyCancel

  • Ashley03/02/2016 - 10:55 am

    Hang in there, lady! I feel like if you weren’t asking yourself these questions, you would lack the feeling of being challenged. And I know you’re not one to sit back + take the easy way. A little bit of unknown in the day-to-day keeps us from becoming complacent. And you’re basically KILLING IT. And also, those chubby mushrooms. Major hearts. Okay…1 more thing. My therapist used to have me play out the “what ifs” out loud or on paper. So basically say/list all of the things that would result if XYZ actually happened. I cannot tell you how much that helped. Mostly, I was snowballing everything in my head and letting anxiety take over. But I realized if the “what ifs” actually played out, it was nothing I couldn’t handle. xoReplyCancel

  • McKenzie03/02/2016 - 11:42 am

    What about melting some bittersweet chocolate in there instead of powder? Making these immediately! You are such an inspiration.ReplyCancel

    • Laura03/02/2016 - 12:44 pm

      Hey McKenzie!
      I think a square of bittersweet/super dark chocolate would be excellent. I only tested with the cacao/cocoa powder because I figured most people would have it in their pantry. Let me know if you try it!

  • Keara McGraw03/02/2016 - 12:12 pm

    Man oh man do I feel you on the spiraling thought patterns! It’s hard to pull yourself out of, especially when working for yourself––you “control” so many parts of your business ventures/day-to-day life. Cooking has always been a way for me to relinquish some of that control and ask some of those same questions. Do I love this? Am I connected to this? Is this where I find passion and fulfillment? The answer is always yes, but it takes stepping back to see the *why* and move forward with that in mind. Much love, Laura! Aaaaand these tacos look bomb AF. Your photos are stunning, such a mid-week treat to pour through. I can’t wait to make these, and slow down just a bit :-)ReplyCancel

    • Laura04/02/2016 - 3:51 pm

      I think creative people of all stripes get into the spiral of doom from time to time. It’s good to be self-reflective and believe that you can aim higher for yourself by controlling/optimizing every aspect, but it’s crazy-making too. Chilling out vis a vis cooking is probably one of the better ways to cope :)

  • Lauren03/02/2016 - 12:21 pm

    I love this post and the recipe looks delicious! Looking forward to combining chipotle and cacao.ReplyCancel

  • Allyson03/02/2016 - 12:41 pm

    I love the focusing on “why” over “what”. What seems to invite anxiety, where why paves the way for clarity. I also love the look of these tacos. I’m definitely trying out the chipotle cacao sauce.ReplyCancel

  • tieghan03/02/2016 - 1:38 pm

    Ahh, you last week is me this week. I just cannot seem to get my shit together…so many what if’s and second guessing happening in my head right now it’s horrible. I think I need you as my life coach or something. UGH. I have got to snap out of it!!

    Anyway, these tacos are KILLER. LOVE that chipotle sauce! :)ReplyCancel

    • Laura04/02/2016 - 3:53 pm

      I hope you get some time to just relax and reassure yourself, Tieghan! I know that you work so hard, so you definitely deserve some reflective time to sort it all out :)
      xo LReplyCancel

  • Sarah | Well and Full03/02/2016 - 1:54 pm

    What a powerful message, and one I needed to hear in the face of some career-changing decisions of my own. Thank you.ReplyCancel

    • Laura04/02/2016 - 3:56 pm

      Hey, glad the timing worked out for both of us ;)
      xo LReplyCancel

  • renee (will frolic for food)03/02/2016 - 3:34 pm

    literally on the same brain train (i deleted all the apps on my phone too). i also legitimately tested recipes while drinking tea and listening to podcasts yesterday. i particularly like the lena dunham podcast rn. can’t wait to make these tacos! so bomb. king oyster mushrooms are freaky meaty and it’s so fiercely delicious!ReplyCancel

    • Laura04/02/2016 - 3:56 pm

      Riiiiiding that same wave length! ;) ;) ;)
      xx LReplyCancel

  • Sherrie03/02/2016 - 3:56 pm

    I woke up and read this post, and then immediately deleted all {three!!!} of my Facebook applications from my phone. Thank you for inspiring me to do that, I instantaneously felt a sense of relief. A lightness. Less clutter up there. I admire your work, and commitment to be the very best version of yourself Laura. I trust the universe has your back. All my love always, xx!!ReplyCancel

    • Laura04/02/2016 - 3:58 pm

      Yes! Relief is release and I’m all smiles to help with that, in whatever tiny way. Love and hugs to you, miss.
      xo LReplyCancel

  • genevieve @ gratitude & greens03/02/2016 - 5:27 pm

    This was such a great reminder to “tune in” with myself. I try to put my faith in the universe and try not to overthink the “signs”, but sometimes it is really hard. So, thank you!ReplyCancel

  • Terry davidson04/02/2016 - 2:54 pm

    I made these tacos last night. They were delicious! Loved the sauce ….found it more than sweet enough with the dates.


  • Jessie Snyder | Faring Well04/02/2016 - 9:23 pm

    I’m so thankful for your honesty here, Laura. Working for yourself, especially in this business, is a tough balance at times and one I’m struggling to figure out as well. It looks as if glancing through these comments there are quite a few of us all feeling the same! We need a virtual blogger support group to vent/speak wisdom into or something. Now going onto my phone to delete some apps ;) thank you for the little push I (and so many others) needed to clear our headspace! And these tacos?! Swoon. I’ve never had this type of mushroom but now need to go hunting for some! xoReplyCancel

  • Tuulia05/02/2016 - 3:48 am

    Yes, yes, yes for more space in life and for clarity. Sometimes it’s so hard to focus on your own thing when there’s so much noise + pressure from social media..but I keep telling to myself this same mantra over and over again: “Do less with more focus”. Trusting your intuition and doing your own thing always pays out in the end, so keep it up Laura, you’re full of magic! And the tacos, yum. xxReplyCancel

  • lynn @ the actor's diet05/02/2016 - 3:51 am

    I had my first King Oyster Mushroom today in a vegan bowl of ramen – man they’re meaty! And mighty!ReplyCancel

  • Amy | Lemon and Coconut05/02/2016 - 10:41 am

    That’s so interesting. It’s so important for us all to understand the things that are holding us back, we live in a techno fuzz don’t we, it’s so draining, and our inner voice is all we should be listening to and developing. Go for it! xxReplyCancel

  • […] Dying to try these roasted king oyster mushroom tacos. […]ReplyCancel

  • Neha22/09/2016 - 9:32 am

    The most yummy dish I ever had. Thanks for the recipe.ReplyCancel

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