Grilled Tofu Tacos with Roasted Jalapeno Lime Sauce

Is there ANYTHING better in the summer than smoky charcoal grilled food and an icy cold beer? [This is the part where you vigorously shake your head in agreement!] Extra points if that grilled food:

> has components that can be prepped ahead

> is still EASY if you didn't prep ahead

> can be eaten in many delicious ways

> contains mostly plants

> is so FLAVORFUL and SATISFYING you won't miss meat

> makes you forget that it's 90+ degrees outside

> won't make your kitchen 90 degrees

> can be enjoyed with friends

Well, my friends, this is that meal!

This is also what I call a "flex" meal, meaning it can be made in lots of different ways. The one thing I've kept consistent is how I prepare the tofu. No baking, frying or grilling required... which means much less fat absorption, so better for YOU. I also prefer the consistency of the tofu when it's been pressed overnight. It becomes more dense and satisfying. You can check out my process (including lots of step-by-step photos and the ingredients for the marinade HERE.

Before we get started though, a brief note about eating soy. There is a ton of misinformation about the health effects of consuming soy products, including whether or not soy consumption has negative health outcomes. Headlines casting doubt and causing alarm are mostly based on conventionally grown (non-certified organic) genetically modified (GMO) soybeans (which are heavily sprayed with pesticides), non-human research, soy consumption in unrealistically large amounts, or the authors not fully comprehending the chemical make-up of soy. I encourage you to check out the short 3-part video series by my colleague Whitney Tabaie, RDN at Whitney E RD. She does an excellent job of presenting the current science in Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.

Minimally processed organic soy is an excellent source of plant protein. This includes edamame, miso, tofu (sprouted and regular) and tempeh. So be sure to check these out, stop listening to the fearmongers and enjoy some soy!

Now let's get on with this meal!

For tacos, I use my Latin American marinade, whole wheat tortillas or organic corn tortillas, whatever vegetables I have on hand, black or pinto beans, and my Fire Roasted Jalapeno Lime Sauce (recipe below).

Some ideas for the grilled veg:

> sweet peppers (multi-colored bells, cubanelles, poblanos)

> spicy peppers (cherry, jalapeno, Thai, habanero)

> onions (yellow, purple, green)

> garlic scapes

> sweet corn (white, yellow or multi)

> summer squash (yellow or green zucchini, pattypan, crookneck)

Some ideas for the toppings:

> fresh lime wedges

> fresh lemon wedges

> cilantro

> Mexican oregano, fresh

> salsa

> fresh chilis, chopped

> avocado, sliced or cubed

> guacamole (check out my version HERE)

> shredded green or purple cabbage, OR

> my Rainbow Slaw with Sweet & Sour Dressing

> fermented vegetables (see links to some of mine below)

> Roasted Jalapeno Lime Sauce (recipe below)

Try my Lacto-Fermented Red Onions HERE.

Try my Lacto-Fermented Spicy Carrots HERE.

Try my Sauerkraut HERE.

To make the Roasted Jalapeno Lime sauce: PRINT HERE

Makes ~ 1 cup (you're gonna want to double it!)

1/2 cup cashews, plain, unroasted

2 limes, zest and flesh

1/2 cup fresh cilantro

2 large jalapenos, grilled or roasted

3 Tbsp fortified nutritional yeast*

2 large cloves garlic

2 Medjool dates, soaked in 1/4 cup HOT water

1/4 cup white wine or Champaign vinegar

1/4 cup water (or more depending on desired consistency)

1/2 tsp smoked salt or regular sea salt

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

*Fortified nutritional yeast is a good source of B vitamins, including vitamin B12. Not all brands of nutritional yeast are fortified, so check the label carefully. Nutritional yeast also lends some body and flavor to this dressing but is not absolutely necessary.

The Process:

1. Place cashews in a bowl and pour enough HOT water over them to cover by 1/2". Set aside for two hours, occasionally stirring to submerge those floating on the surface. If you have a high-powered blender, you may not need to soak the cashews.

2. Grill or roast the jalapenos over an open flame until charred. Place inside a paper bag, fold and allow to cool. Once cooled, peel off most of the charred skin. Cut in half and remove some (or all) of the seeds, depending on your desired spice level. I like to leave the seeds intact. Place these in a small bowl.

3. Zest the limes into the same small bowl with the jalapenos. Peel the zested limes with a sharp paring knife. Remove as much of the white pith as possible. Slice into quarters. Add these to the bowl with the zest. Cover and place in the freezer while waiting for the cashews to soak. This accomplishes two things. It keeps your blender from overheating the contents while pureeing and it allows the finished dressing to be cooler so you can use it right away, if needed.

4. Remove the seeds from the dates, place in a small bowl and pour 1/4 cup HOT water over them. Set aside.

5. Keep the vinegar, water, and garlic cloves cold until needed.

6. Add the partially frozen lime and jalapeno chunks, zest, the soaked and drained cashews, the dates AND their soaking liquid, nutritional yeast, garlic, vinegar, water, cilantro and spices to your high-speed blender. Blend until completely smooth, scraping down sides if necessary. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed. Dressing should be slightly thick, creamy and pourable. Thin with additional water or more vinegar if necessary. Refrigerate until needed (can be stored up to 1 week).

To Assemble:

~ Slice or chop the grilled veg.

~ Prepare the condiments.

~ Grill the tortillas individually, or wrap in foil and heat them on the grill.

~ Spread everything 'round the table and everyone can fill their own.

Grab an icy cold beer and ENJOY!

UPDATE: One of the things I love about this preparation method, is it doesn't NEED cooking to be absolutely delicious! Unlike tempeh, tofu can be eaten raw and requires no cooking. However, if you'd prefer hot, crispy tofu instead, here's what to do:

~ increase the nutritional yeast to 4 Tbsp

~ after marinating period, heat oven to 400 degrees

~ lightly oil a baking sheet or line with parchment paper

~ bake tofu 30-40 minutes until crisp, turning halfway through

~ enjoy eating it in any of the ways suggested above

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