A tofu game changer. Mexican-Inspired Tofu Tacos with Chili-Lime Slaw and Cilantro-Pepita Crema may just change your mind about tofu. Vegan + Gluten Free
Over the past several weeks I’ve been running an anonymous survey in the tabbed bottom right corner of the screen asking readers about what dietary lifestyle they most closely relate to. Over 800 visitors responded! Thank you for participating and leaving helpful comments beyond that of the question. I loved hearing from each of you.
Just to be clear, when I use the word “diet,” I do not mean to eat in such a way as to lose weight. Rather, I use the term to relate to what one eats. And while I don’t like to pidgeonhole dietary categories because I really just like to eat good food that lightens my impact on the planet, being a food-writer requires that I use these terms for clarity’s sake.
Does that make sense?
I’ve learned so much from the survey, including the variety of food-lovers visiting Vanilla And Bean and some of the food struggles we share. While I found most respondents to be vegan or vegetarian, there were many who consider themselves omnivores or flexitarians, yet lean vegan or vegetarian. Others were transitioning to a vegetarian or vegan diet or simply cooking for a loved one that enjoys a plant-based diet.
Many readers indicated they are simply looking for ways to incorporate more veggies into their diet. While there were a small number of gluten-free and paleo respondents, a few were on very specific new-to-me diets (climatarian & Esselstyne). But then my sister reminded me about Esselstyne… “he’s the man in Forks Over Knives…” I had an oh, yeaaah, moment.
The chocolaholics also chimed in, as did those with a sweet tooth, like me, with some staying away from refined sugar.
With the ubiquitous fast food available to us these days, I’m inspired by the superheroes cooking for themselves and/or their family in an effort to eat real food. Not only those with one dietary lifestyle among members, but by those attempting to accommodate multiple eating styles under the same roof. Like the reader who wrote that she’s an omnivore but prepares vegan food for her daughter. Another reader transitioned to a vegan diet six years ago. She is 72 now. And the many that are transitioning to a vegetarian or vegan diet but are struggling as so many of us do when making a dietary change.
While I’ll never be able to accommodate all dietary needs in this space, I’ll certainly keep your comments and responses in mind moving forward. I hope you’ll use my recipes as they are, always vegetarian with lots of vegan food, or for inspiration to fuel your cooking adventures. Thank you again for sharing with me!
Now… about these Mexican-Inspired Tacos with Chili-Lime Slaw and Cilantro-Lime Crema (could the title get any longer?).
Mexican food is on the regular around here, but you’d hardly know it given the few Mexican-inspired recipes I’ve shared. Growing up near Dallas, Texas, I was practically bottle fed chili-spiced cumin-scented milk. Mom made tacos at least every week, and Mexican Stack, now known as a burrito bowl, were a weeknight staple.
Having just recently warmed up to tofu over the past 10 years, I realize there are tofu-haters and those who just haven’t gone there. But I gotta tell ya, the flavor and texture is all in how the tofu is seasoned and/or prepared. If you’ve had it once and thought you were going to hurl, I encourage you to give it another chance.
Rob throughly enjoys these tacos and you know, he’s a regular (his word) guy. Getting a green light on tofu from him is like winning Chopped or The Great British Bake-Off. He even loves the pepita cream (cue bug-eyed emoji), which tastes almost like a creamy cheese. Not kidding. But, you’ll need a high powered blender – I use Vita Mix – to make it happen.
You may just want to go ahead and make a double batch of the crema. You know, for all your dippin needs.
One of the best things about this recipe is that the taco tofu freezes beautifully making it perfect for weekly meal prep. Making a double batch stretches this recipe even farther. The taco filling is delicious in burritos, enchaladas, tostadas, nachos… oh the possibilities! Serve it with Spanish Brown Rice and a side of guacamole to round out the meal.
Just don’t skip the masa flour. It’s worth the effort.
This recipe uses some of the top GMO ingredients grown in the U.S. As always, I recommend organic ingredients.
Tell me how you feel about tofu in the comments. Do you love it, curious about it, or give it the stink-eye at the store?
Mexican-Inspired Tofu Tacos with Chili-Lime Slaw and Cilantro-Pepita Crema
For the Tofu:
- 10 oz Sprouted Tofu pressed and drained for at least 20 minutes (see note)*, 283g
- 1 Tbs Coconut Oil unrefined, virgin
- 1 C Purple Onion large dice (about 1/2 a medium onion), 110g
- 3/4 C Green Bell Pepper large dice (about 1/2 a medium pepper), 90g
- 1 Tbs Cumin ground
- 1 Tbs Chili Powder
- 1/2 tsp Smokey Paprika
- 1 Tbs Masa Harina Flour** see note
- 3/4 tsp Sea Salt
- 2 tsp Adobo Sauce from a can of chipotle chilis in adobo sauce (take this up a few tsp for extra spicy!)
- 3/4 C Fire Roasted Tomatoes with juice, 200g
- 1 C Vegetable Broth 220g
For the Pepita Crema:
- 1 C Raw Pepitas soaked over night or in very hot water for 10 minutes, drained, 160g
- 3 Tbs Fresh Lime Juice
- 6-8 Pickled Jalapeño Rings or to taste
- 1/2 tsp Cumin ground
- 1/2 tsp Smoky Paprika
- 1 tsp Sea Salt
- 1 leaves Fist Full of Cilantro stems and
- 3/4 C Water 285g
For the Slaw:
- 3 C Shredded Mix of Red and Green Cabbage loosely packed, 150g
- 1 Tbs Seeded Jalapeño minced (or to taste. Take this up if you like spicy!)
- 1/2 C Cilantro rough chopped, 20g
- Juice of 2 Limes
- 1/2 tsp Sea Salt
- Spanish Brown Rice
- Your favorite tortillas - gluten free if needed -
- Fresh Jalapeño
- Extra Pepita Crema for Dipping
For the Tofu:
- Preheat the oven to 350F (180C). Slice the tofu into 1" cubes and place on a parchment or silpat lined sheet pan. Bake for 20 minutes. This will dry the tofu out.
- In a large saute pan, add the coconut oil and heat until shimmering. Add the onion and bell pepper. Saute for about five minutes on medium low or until soft. Add the cumin, chili powder, paprika, masa flour, and sea salt all at once, then add the adobo sauce. Stir for about 2 minutes until fragrant and the seasonings are incorporated around the veggies. Stir in the tomatoes, vegetable broth and tofu, then turn the heat to low and place a lid on the pan. Simmer for 10 minutes. Place mixture in a food processor and pulse 8-9 times, making sure the tofu is still somewhat chunky, but ground down. Place back in the pan, put a lid on it to keep it warm (off the heat).
For the Crema:
- Place the pepitas, lime juice, jalapeños, cumin, paprika, sea salt, cilantro and water in a high speed blender (I use Vita Mix) and blend on the puree cycle or medium high, scraping the container down several times to create a smooth puree. Place in a bowl and set aside.
For the Slaw:
- In a medium bowl, mix the red and green cabbage, jalapeño, cilantro, lime juice and sea salt.
- I like to warm my tortillas on a low open flame on the stove top turning with tongs a few times to lightly char the tortillas. To hold them warm, place the tortillas in foil and into a warmed toaster oven on low heat.
- On the tortilla, spoon a good smear of crema down the center of the tortilla. Spoon the tofu evenly over the top, then add the slaw and any condiments you prefer.
- Store the leftover tofu in the fridge in a lidded container for up to three days.
*If sprouted tofu is unavailable use extra firm or firm. The firmer, the better. I can't emphasize this enough: Freeze your tofu when you bring it home from the store. Thaw it in the refrigerator overnight, then press out the water. Something magical happens in the freezer. Since tofu is packaged in water, we need press the water out of it to make room for flavor! To press thawed tofu, use a tea towel and place it under and on top of the tofu. Set it on a plate. Place something heavy on top, like a cutting board, another plate or a not-so-full box of wine to press the water out. We don't want it too heavy or it will squash the tofu. Move the tea towel a few times to a dryer area of the towel so it can absorb more water. Press for about 20-30 minutes, up to an hour if you have time.
**Masa harina is one of my pantry staples. It's fabulous in many Mexican inspired dishes and you can DIY corn tortillas with it too. My favorite place to use it is in these tacos, fritters and to thicken chili. It imparts a mellow corn and slightly sweet flavor.
For leftovers, store taco filling in lidded containers or freezer bags for up to one month in the freezer. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight, then reheat.