Crispy Tofu Tacos with Cilantro Avocado Pesto & Chipotle Mango Salsa

Now that it’s the new year, I know a bunch of you are looking for super healthy recipes that pack a big punch of flavor.  Tacos are a go to for me, because you can make them healthy very easily, and you can put just about anything you have lying around in them.  I wanted to create some components for tacos that you could also use for other things as well, so that these recipes can be very versatile & last you through the week since they do make a decent amount.

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These tacos consist of crispy tofu, cilantro avocado pesto, and chipotle mango salsa.  All three things can easily be used for other dishes / snacks, which is what I really like about them.  The crispy tofu can used in just about anything- sandwiches, stir fry, bowls, salads, or just eaten on its own with a dip.  The chipotle mango salsa can be eaten with chips, & put on top of bowls.  And lastly the cilantro avocado pesto can be used on pasta, spread on bread, on top of a bowl, in / on top of soup, in sandwiches, etc.  The possibilities with these are truly endless, but combined together in a taco they make something pretty magical.

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First let’s start out by making our chipotle mango salsa, since this you want to sit for the longest to let all the flavors combine well.  With salsa, your knife cuts are always super important.  You want everything to be roughly the same size, and in my opinion, the smaller the better.  For this recipe, you’ll need to finely dice some ripe mangos, red bell pepper, jalapeño pepper, & red onion.  Once you have all of those finely diced, add them to a bowl & add your lime juice, sea salt, roughly chopped cilantro, and chipotle chile powder.  Mix well, and adjust the seasoning to your liking, some people like it really spicy which would require more chipotle chile powder, some like it a bit saltier, some people like more lime or cilantro, it’s all up to you!  After everything is well combined, cover your bowl with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes, or until ready to serve.

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The cilantro avocado pesto couldn’t be easier.  You literally just need to throw everything into your food processor, and let it do all the work!  Add your avocados, cilantro, pepitas, garlic, jalapeño, lime juice, salt, & pepper into your food processor and pulse until well combined.  Then turn on your processor to medium – high speed, and slowly drizzle in your avocado oil while the machine is running, and allow to run until your mixture is fluffy and well combined.  You don’t necessarily have to add the oil if you don’t want too, but it does make the pesto a lot fluffier and creamier, as where without it, it’ll be a lot thicker and not as light.  Taste your pesto to adjust the seasoning, and set this in the fridge, covered, until ready to use.

*Pro tip, save your avocado pits and put them in the bowl with the pesto before covering / refrigerating if you want it to not turn brown as quick!  Just remove the pits before serving. You can keep returning the pits to the bowl / jar as well if you’re going to keep this in the fridge for a few days, it just helps the avocado not turn brown!  You can do this guacamole as well, or any avocado spread. 

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The crispy tofu couldn’t be easier to make, and it’s one of my absolute favorite things to eat.  First you’ll need to start out with some extra firm tofu.  I buy the High Protein Extra Firm Tofu from Trader Joe’s, it comes in a vacuum sealed package instead of the little tubs filled with water, and it’s hands down the firmest tofu I’ve ever come across.  Remove it from the packaging & drain, then wrap in a few layers of paper towels.  Place on your cutting board & set a cast iron skillet (or something relatively heavy) on top of your tofu to press it, and allow this to sit for 15-20 minutes so as much moisture drains out as possible.  Alternatively, if you have a tofu press you can use that as well.

Once your tofu is drained, pat it dry and place the wider side of the tofu block face down on your cutting board.  Cut your tofu blocks into very thin strips (as thin as you can get them without them falling apart, about 1/4-1/8″ thick), so each strip forms a long rectangle.  In a skillet over medium high heat, add a small amount of coconut oil, and sprinkle some coarse salt right onto the pan.  Add in your tofu in a single layer (depending on the size of the pan, you might have to do two batches), and allow to cook for 3-4 minutes.  Don’t touch or move the tofu around while its cooking, its very important to just let it do it’s thing and get really crispy.  If you try and lift the tofu with tongs / a spatula before its properly crispy, it’ll stick to the pan and rip.  Once your tofu is golden brown and crisp, season the uncooked side with a little more salt, and flip your tofu!  Allow this to cook for another 3-4 minutes until both sides are golden brown and crispy.  Once your tofu is done cooking, you can cut each rectangle into little strips so they easily fit onto the tacos.

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Once you’re ready to assemble your tacos, lightly char some corn tortillas over a gas burner (or using a torch), or wrap them in a damp paper towel and microwave for 15 seconds to heat through.  Add some of your crispy tofu, pesto, and mango salsa- then dig in!  You can additionally top them with some extra fresh cilantro, lime juice, or thinly sliced radish if desired as well.  These tacos are truly so healthy and easy to make, and are so incredibly delicious.  I really hope you enjoy this recipe!

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Crispy Tofu Tacos with Cilantro Avocado Pesto & Chipotle Mango Salsa

Crispy Tofu, Creamy Cilantro Avocado Pesto, & Spicy Chipotle Mango Salsa on Charred Corn Tortillas are the perfect healthy tacos to show your friends that healthy food doesn't have to be bland or boring.  

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 4 people
Author Chef Brianna Gallo

Ingredients

Cilantro Avocado Pesto

  • 1 1/4 cup fresh cilantro
  • 2 avocados
  • 1/3 cup pepitas
  • 1 -2 tbsp fresh jalapeño about 1/2" knob of the pepper
  • 4 tbsp lime juice about 2 small limes
  • 1 tbsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp pink himalayan salt
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 3-4 tbsp avocado oil

Chipotle Mango Salsa

  • 2 ripe mangos finely diced
  • 1/4 cup red onion finely diced
  • 1/4 cup red bell pepper finely diced
  • 1-2 tbsp fresh jalapeño finely diced
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp lime juice about 1 large lime
  • 1/2-1 tbsp chipotle chile powder 1 tbsp will make it very spicy
  • 2 tsp pink himalayan salt

Crispy Tofu

  • 1 block extra firm tofu
  • 2 tsp virgin coconut oil
  • 2 tsp pink himalayan salt

Other Ingredients

  • corn tortillas
  • fresh lime wedges
  • fresh cilantro

Instructions

Cilantro Avocado Pesto

  1. To make your pesto, roughly chop your cilantro, garlic, & jalapeño, then place those into your food processor with your peeled / de-stoned avocados, lime juice, salt, pepper, and pepitas.  Pulse until just combined into a paste. 

  2. Turn your food processor on the medium setting, and while its running, drizzle in your avocado oil until the mixture comes together and becomes light and creamy. Place in a covered bowl in the fridge until you're ready to use. 

Chipotle Mango Salsa

  1. The key to this salsa is your knife cuts, you want everything to be the same size, and be diced very finely.  Dice your mangos, red onion, jalapeño, and red bell pepper, and add them to a bowl.  Mix well. 

  2. Roughly chop your cilantro, and add that to the bowl & mix while adding in your lime juice, salt, and chipotle chile powder.  Once combined, taste & adjust seasoning as needed, cover, and place in the fridge until ready to use. 

Crispy Tofu

  1. Remove your tofu from the package and drain well, and press under a cast iron skillet (wrap your tofu in paper towels first) for about 20 minutes until all of the moisture has been properly drained. 

  2. Cut your tofu into very thin rectangles (as thin as you can get them without them falling apart).  

  3. Heat a skillet over medium high heat, and once its hot, add your coconut oil & spread around the entire pan.  Sprinkle a bit of salt right into the skillet and add your tofu.  Season the other side of the tofu with salt, and allow to cook for 3-4 minutes without moving it, until very crispy and golden brown.  Then flip your tofu and allow to cook another 3-4 minutes until the other side is also crispy and golden brown. 

  4. Allow your tofu to cool for a few minutes & then cut into long "chicken like" strips.  

Taco Assembly

  1. Take your corn tortillas and lightly char the edges over your gas burner on the stove if you have a gas burner.  If you don't have a gas burner you can use a torch to char the edges, or wrap the tortillas in a damp paper towel and microwave for 15 seconds to make them more pliable. 

  2. Add some crispy tofu strips into your tortillas with a spoonful of cilantro avocado pesto & chipotle mango salsa.  You can also add extra fresh cilantro & fresh lime if you desire as well.  

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