Saturday, March 8, 2014

Chipotle Tofu Tacos

With day lights savings depriving us of our morning sunlight, and the drizzly days lingering, this is the time of year when you need some easy weeknight dinners in your back pocket. These tofu tacos fit the bill, especially if you cook up some grains and a pot of beans (like Rio zapes in mole sauce) ahead of time. The sauce for these tacos comes from a shrimp recipe from Rick Bayless' Mexican Everyday and is dead easy: blend together a 15 ounce can of fire roasted tomatoes with a couple of chipotle chiles in adobe sauce. A tip for storing a can's worth of these chiles: dot them on a piece of saran wrap draped across a cookie sheet, freeze, and then store in a freezer bag for future meals. If you've taken to stashing tofu in your freezer for banh mi, the same strategy would work here for creating extra firm tofu chunks. For toppings, fresh avocado is nice, but shredded cabbage and root vegetables or even refrigerator pickles will do the trick. And while you eat these, imagine yourself on a sunny tropical beach. 

Chipotle Tofu Tacos
tofu filling
1 14 ounce package of tofu (if possible, slice and freeze, then thaw, for extra firm pieces)
3 cloves garlic
3 Tbsp canola oil
1 15 ounce can fire roasted tomatoes
2 to 3 chipotle chiles in adobe sauce
salt to taste

taco fixings
cooked grain, such as farro, or rice
cubed avocado
spinach leaves or chopped lettuce or cabbage
shredded cheddar cheese or sour cream
lime wedges

1. Cut the tofu into 1 inch slabs. If you can prepare this ahead of time, freeze the tofu slabs and then thaw them to release extra liquid. 

2. In a blender, combine the fire roasted tomatoes and chipotle chiles.

3. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat and, when hot, add 2 Tbsp oil. Now add the tofu slabs in a single layer. Allow them to sear undisturbed for about 3 minutes, then gently flip and sear on the second side. Sprinkle them with a pinch of salt. Meanwhile, mince the garlic. When the tofu is nicely golden on both sides, remove to a plate.

4. Add remaining 1 Tbsp oil to the pan and when warm, add the garlic. Stir for a minute until fragrant but not brown, and then pour in the tomato chipotle sauce from the blender jar and a generous pinch of salt. Stir and bring to a simmer. Cook for about five minutes or so, taste and add more salt if needed. Meanwhile, cut the tofu slabs into 1 inch cubes. Add the tofu cubes to the sauce, stir to coat, and continue to simmer while you prepare the tacos toppings and warm the tortillas.

5. Allow everyone to assemble their tacos to their personal taste following the general formula of starting with a warm tortilla, adding a scoop of grains, a generous helping of tofu, topping with avocado, greens, cilantro, and cheese or sour cream, a squeeze of lime, and serving with beans on the side. Enjoy.

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