Fried Artichoke Tacos with Cucumber Pico & Za’atar Crema

If a taco were a vegetarian and took a trip to the Middle East, that’s this recipe!
This recipe takes everything you know and love about fish tacos and makes them cheaper and easier (and vegetarian!) by substituting golden nuggets of fried artichokes hearts. The addition of cucumber to the pico de gallo adds a perfect, watery crunch to each bite, and the za’atar crema is so good I may have eaten it straight from the bowl. Remember to char your tortillas very well before piling everything inside!
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I am a Taco Man! Always have been and always will be (…so I guess also a Taco Baby and Taco Boy). While I’m not vegetarian, I love and appreciate a vegetarian take on a recipe that usually contains meat, and tacos are a great vehicle for this. My fried artichoke version is perfect for the person who loves fish tacos but doesn’t have or want to eat fish for whatever reason! The artichokes mimic the flaky texture of fish perfectly, and the Old Bay in the cornmeal batter gives them that fishy-in-the-good-way flavor. 

We’ve established that this dish is a vegetarian take on a fish taco, but it’s ALSO inspired by Middle Eastern flavors! I added cucumber to the pico de gallo, similar to tomato cucumber salad, and added za’atar to the crema for that herbaceous, earthy kick of flavor. If a taco were a vegetarian and took a trip to the Middle East, that’s this recipe! And no matter the identity crisis this taco is having, the result is downright delicious.

Fried Artichoke Tacos with Cucumber Pico & Za’atar Crema

Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings 12 tacos


For the Fried Artichokes

  • 2 14 ounce cans quartered artichoke hearts, drained, rinsed, and dried
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ cups buttermilk
  • 2 cups medium coarse cornmeal
  • 2 tablespoons Old Bay seasoning divided
  • Kosher salt and pepper to taste
  • Vegetable oil for frying

For the Cucumber Pico de Gallo

  • 4 mini Persian cucumbers seeded, small dice (about 2 cups)
  • 2 roma tomatoes seeded, small dice (about 1 cup)
  • ½ red onion small dice (about ½ cup)
  • 1 jalapeño seeded, fine diced
  • 1 garlic clove grated
  • ¼ cup cilantro leaves chopped
  • Juice of ½ a lime about 2 tablespoons
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • Kosher salt to taste

For the Spicy Za’atar Crema

  • ½ cup sour cream
  • Juice of ½ a lime about 2 tablespoons
  • Pinch of cayenne
  • ½ teaspoon za’atar
  • 1 teaspoon honey

For Serving

  • Corn tortillas charred


  • Place flour, buttermilk, and cornmeal in three shallow bowls. To the flour and cornmeal, add 1 tablespoon of Old Bay each and season generously with salt and pepper. Whisk to combine.
  • Working in batches, place 4-6 artichokes in the flour, toss to fully coat, then gently shake off excess flour. One at a time, dip into buttermilk, shake off excess, then place in cornmeal. Once the entire batch is in the cornmeal, toss and gently pat to coat well, then place on a sheet pan. Repeat with remaining artichokes until all are breaded, then place in refrigerator to allow breading to set while you make the pico de gallo and crema.
  • In a medium bowl, combine all pico de gallo ingredients with a spoon. Taste and adjust with salt if needed, then set aside.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together crema ingredients until well combined. Taste and adjust salt if needed, then set aside.
  • In a large, deep pot, heat ½ inch of vegetable oil over medium-high heat to 350°F. Line a sheet pan with paper towels.
  • Remove artichokes from refrigerator, and carefully add a single layer to the oil, allowing at least a ½ inch of space between each one. Fry for 1-2 minutes, or until golden brown, then flip and fry for another minute, or until golden brown on both sides. Use a slotted spoon or tongs to gently place on prepared pan. Immediately season with salt, then repeat with remaining artichokes until all are fried.
  • To assemble, place 3 artichokes in a tortilla and top with a couple of spoonfuls of cucumber pico de gallo, and a drizzle of za’atar crema.
  • Serve immediately.
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