Black Bean and Fried Tofu Tacos

Tacos are literally my favorite food. Anytime someone asks me what my favorite food is, I always say tacos. If I could eat one thing for the rest of my life, it would be tacos. I am also a firm believer in the fact that anything can be a taco topping. Burgers, veggies, fruit, whatever. Put it in a tortilla, and you got yourself a winner! Do you believe me that I really love tacos yet?

I think tacos need to be colorful in order to be their best selves, so this version of a taco has some bright purple cabbage and a bright green jalapeno sauce to really liven things up. I love the use of corn tortillas here because they are lower in calories than flour tortillas, and that just means more tacos on my plate without more guilt. Duh.

These are super flexible- use just the bean sauce, or just the tofu, or make some sauteed veggies instead of the tofu, whatever makes your heart happy. You can up the spice on the sauce by using the seeds and ribs of the jalapenos, or tone it down by removing the ribs and seeds. Adam likes things mild, I like things spicy- and since I am the one cooking, it usually ends up too spicy for him. Oops! I served this meal with a side of fried plantains, because fried plantains are the bomb.

I’m going to break down this recipe into the different components, and then you can piece them together to make the perfect tacos.

IMG_20190131_201955_313

Black Bean and Fried Tofu Tacos, serves 4-6

  • 12 corn tortillas, taco size
  • black bean sauce, recipe below
  • fried tofu, recipe below 
  • 1 small head purple cabbage, sliced super thin 
  • 2 tbsp white vinegar
  • 1 tsp natural sugar
  • 1-2 tsp celery salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 red onion, sliced thin
  • 1 large avocado, sliced 
  • batch of jalapeno- cilantro sauce, recipe below 
  1. Start by mixing together the finely slice cabbage, vinegar, sugar, celery salt, and pepper. Toss and set aside to let the flavors deepen. This can also be made the day before too.
  2. Make black bean sauce, fried tofu, and jalapeno sauce.
  3. Warm corn tortillas on a hot griddle pan for 30 seconds each side. Alternatively, you can char the tortillas on a gas burner for 30 seconds each side.
  4. Start with a warmed tortilla, spread 2-3 tablespoons black bean mixture as the base. Add one or two pieces of tofu. Top with cabbage slaw, red onion, a few slices of avocado, and jalapeno sauce. Now go eat as many tacos as you please.

Black Bean Sauce 

  • 2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tsp each of onion powder, garlic powder, chili powder, cumin, salt, pepper
  • 1 tsp liquid smoke, optional, can add 1 tsp more chili powder instead 
  • 1/3 cup water
  1. In a large pot, mash the beans with a potato masher until almost no chunks remain. Add in spices and water and mix. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed. Cook over medium heat until heated through, or about 15 minutes. If it gets too thick, add more water a couple tablespoons at a time. It should be spreadable with a spoon, but not runny and thin.

Fried Tofu

  • 1 16 ounce package firm tofu, drained and patted dry
  • 1/2 cup rice flour 
  • 2 tsp each of salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder 
  • vegetable oil for frying
  1. Using a sharp knife, slice the tofu block in half. Then, slice each half block into 12 long strips. You’ll end up with 24 strips.
  2. In a mixing bowl, mix together the rice flour and spices. Toss the tofu a few strips at a time in the mixture, completely coating each piece of tofu.
  3. Add oil to a large pot, about half an inch from the bottom. Heat at medium-high until hot. My trick is to take a drop of water and put it in the pan- if it sizzles and pops, it’s ready. Just be careful!
  4. Carefully add tofu into the pan, a few at a time, don’t overcrowd the pot! Fry the tofu on each side until golden brown. When golden on each side, remove tofu from the pot and put on a tea towel or paper towels to drain excess oil. Optional, but delicious, you can sprinkle a little more salt on each piece after frying.
  5. Repeat until all tofu is fried.

Jalapeno Sauce

  • 2 jalapenos, ribs and seeds removed if less heat is desired
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro, leaves and stems, 
  • juice of one lime
  • zest of half of lime
  • 1/4 cup vegan mayo 
  • pinch of salt and pepper
  1. Put all ingredients into a high powered blender. I use a mini smoothie making blender cup when I make sauces so it blends better and the sauce doesn’t get lost in a giant blender cup. Blitz it up until completely smooth. It will take a little longer than you might think because of the cilantro- but you can’t really over mix this, so have at it!

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

It’s freezing and below zero across most of the country today, so I needed a dinner that was going to warm us up! It also helped that I had a snow day today!

Snow days are just as exciting for teachers as you remember they were when you were a kid. Except, maybe even more because coffee and daytime TV! This meal reminds me of a meal my mom used to make too, so it was definitely appropriate for a snow day.

Stuffed cabbages are easy, tasty, and with the addition of tempeh, so filling too. It does take a minute to get it all set up and ready to go, but I list some tricks to make it a little faster and easier throughout the process.

However, if you are short on time, or just a little lazy (that’s okay!) there’s a great shortcut to this meal. Skip steaming the cabbage leaves and finely chop the cabbage instead. Add the cabbage to the pot when you add the onion, then following the recipe as stated. Put the entire mixture into the baking pan, pouring the tomato sauce all over the pan before baking. Call it a “stuffed” cabbage casserole!

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls, 4 servings

  • 1 large green head cabbage
  • 1 medium yellow or white onion, chopped
  • 1 package tempeh 
  • 2 tsp vegan Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon 
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 can (14.5 ounce) diced tomato, no salt added, drained 
  • 3 cups cooked barley
  • 3 tbsp fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 large can (28 ounce) crushed tomato 
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar 
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 F. Carefully remove the largest layers of cabbage leaves in whole pieces, I got 9 from my 3-ish pound head of cabbage. Steam the leaves in a large covered pot with a steamer rack for about 10 minutes. When the leaves are soft, remove and use the same steamer pot and rack to steam the tempeh for 10 minutes. Steaming tempeh allows flavors to soak in better later in the recipe. Remove tempeh, allow to cool for a minute or two, and chop finely.
  2. Saute onion with a little water over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes. Add the chopped tempeh, Worcestershire sauce, sugar, coriander, allspice, cinnamon, and salt and pepper to taste and mix well. Stir and saute for an additional 2 minutes. Add in the drained diced tomatoes, stir, and turn off heat.
  3. Mix together tempeh mixture and barley in a large mixing bowl. Stir in the lemon juice and parsley. Taste and adjust seasonings, if necessary.
  4. Place all of the cabbage leaves on flat area with rib side down. I put all the cabbage leaves out at one time so I can get an equal amount of filling in each one without wasting any of that delicious filling. Fill the cabbage leaves with an equal amount (about 1/3 cup) of filling in each one. Roll up each leaf around the stuffing, tucking in the sides as you roll. I don’t stress about perfection here, this is a dish best served a little messy, so just go for it! Place the stuffed cabbage rolls into a glass baking pan, seam side down. Repeat the process until all leaves are stuffed and rolled.
  5. In a bowl, mix the crushed tomatoes, brown sugar, and cider vinegar and salt and pepper to taste. Pour tomato sauce over the cabbage rolls. Cook for an hour, or until soft and tender. Serve immediately.