Future of water: How to make a drought-friendly taco (and a call for your recipes)

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111638 full

This week we've been asking you to imagine your lives in 2040 with our series about the future of water in California. As KPCC's Sanden Totten reported this morning, eating drought-friendly may one day be as common as eating organic or locally sourced foods. These are meals with ingredients that take comparatively less water to grow and produce.

With that in mind, we met with Chef Wesley Avila of Guerrilla Tacos for his recommendations on how to cook a drought-friendly meal — in this case, how to make a delicious and drought-conscious veggie taco.

See a list of food items by water footprint | Share your drought-friendly recipe 

Maya Sugarman/KPCC

Recipe: Roasted veggie taco with sweet potato tortilla

As you read along, think about what you would make, because we're curating your recipes on Twitter using the hashtag #CAwater2040. 

Maya Sugarman/KPCC


  • 4 carrots
  • 16 Romano beans
  • 8 scallion 
  • Cannellni beans
  • Peas
  • 8 Roma tomatoes
  • 2 Serrano chiles
  • 1 tbs pumpkin seed
  • 1 guajillo chile
  • 1 tbs sesame seed
  • Turnip greens
  • Indian eggplant
  • Thyme
  • Shallot 2 each
  • 2 lime
  • Garlic 1 head
  • Olive oil 
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 2 sage leaves sliced
  • Red wine vinegar
  • 6 cups ap flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 medium sized sweet potato

1. To make the sweet potato tortillas, use 4 medium-sized sweet potatoes; wrap them in plastic wrap and nuke in microwave for 10 minutes or until soft. 

2. Place 3 to 4 cups of all purpose flour in a bowl. 

3. Add crushed and cooked sweet potato; add eggs, season with salt; roll into golf-ball sized balls and set aside. Let masa rest 45 minutes before rolling.

Maya Sugarman/KPCC

4. Use extra flour to dust your hands and any tortilla press/rolling pin you use, then press the balls to get discs about a 16th of a inch thick.

Maya Sugarman/KPCC

5. Roast the tomatoes, serrano peppers and garlic until nicely charred; in a pan slightly toast guajillo chili, sesame, and pumpkin seed; add tomatoes, garlic and serrano peppers; cook about 7 minutes on medium; season with salt and add 2 tbs vinegar to blender or food processor until blended.

6. Grill all veggies until done cooking; remove from grill and set aside and slightly cut into bite sized pieces.

Maya Sugarman/KPCC

7. In a cast iron pan, add a small amount of olive oil over medium/low heat; toss in cut vegetables add chopped garlic; cook until aromatic, finish with a sprig of thyme, season and drizzle some red wine vinegar over the top set aside until tortillas are warm.

Maya Sugarman/KPCC

8. Warm tortillas with a little olive oil; put on plate and assemble taco; add the roasted vegetables; top with chile, sprinkle some thinly sliced scallions and enjoy.

Maya Sugarman/KPCC

Here's a list of water-friendly protein provided by the Water Footprint Network

The points below represent how many liters of water were used to produce each gram of protein.

Food type liters of water per gram of protein.
Peas 4.7
Beans 2.2
Soy beans 1.3
Egg 10.7

Pro tip: Try using insects as the protein; they typically have a low water footprint.

The points below represent the cubic meters of water used to make one ton of each food. 

type cubic meters of water used to make one ton
Potato 108
Sweet potato 266
Lettuce and chicory 69
Spinach 86
Tomatoes 106
Gourds 191
Eggplant 166
Green chilies and peppers 180
Onion 121
Carrots and Turnips 82
Oranges 176
Lemons and limes 176
Grapefruit 163
Strawberries 107
Cranberries 190
Watermelons 178

Pro tip: Try to use 500 total cubic meters of water or less for the this portion of the meal. 

Want more? Earlier this summer, we got these yummy drought-friendly recipes from NPR. Spicy mango popsicles? Yes, please!

Are you a drought-friendly foodie? Send us your best recipes using the hashtag #CAwater2040.

Series: Future of Water

KPCC's Future of Water series looks at how California's relationship to water is likely to change in the hotter, drier, more populous state of the year 2040.

Read more in this series and let us know your thoughts on Twitter using the hashtag #CAwater2040.

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