Cook 1 cup red quinoa with 2 cups of water either in a pot on the stove (bring to a boil then simmer uncovered), or I like to cook in on the white rice setting of my rice cooker. One cup will be ready in about 15 minutes.
While the quinoa is cooking, prepare your toppings.
When quinoa is cooked, heat 1 tablespoon of water in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, and sauté 5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté 2 minutes. Add water a little at a time if things begin to stick. Add the tomatoes and their liquid, quinoa and taco seasoning, stir well and simmer, uncovered, about 10 or until most of liquid has been absorbed and cooked off.
While the taco "meat" is simmering, preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Heat the taco shells in the oven for 2-3 minutes.
Assemble your tacos or build your taco bar buffet. Serve with the toppings above--or substitute whatever you and your family likes best.
I like red quinoa because regular white quinoa can come out looking a little pink. Red is the perfect color for simulating ground beef taco meat.
If you're serving small kids who won't tolerate bits of onion or garlic in their food, you can process them to a pulp in a food processor, sub 1/2 teaspoon each of onion and garlic powder, or simply omit them.
You can find taco seasoning at most stores. Or to make your own, combine: 1/2 tablespoon chili powder, 1 teaspoon ground cumin, 1/8 teaspoon oregano, 1/8 teaspoon onion powder, 1 pinch of cayenne, garlic powder and sea salt.
The easiest/least messy way I've found to "chop" canned whole tomatoes is to empty the tomatoes and liquid into a large bowl and break them up them into small pieces with a potato masher. A food processor works too as long as you don't over process (if you like tomato chunks rather than sauce.)
I prefer whole canned tomatoes because the diced ones contain a chemical (to keep them from dissolving), which alters the flavor. Also, I find there's no match for the flavor of San Marzano tomatoes, so I always use them.
To make it fast: Cook your quinoa ahead of time. Or start sautéing your onions, garlic, tomatoes and seasoning while the quinoa is cooking. Just turn off the pan if the quinoa isn't ready quite yet, then simmer everything together per the instructions.
If you’re planning to serve almond yogurt or cheese sauce made with cashews at an event, it would be a good idea to check to see if anyone has a tree nut allergy, since the nuts in these foods are completely disguised.