That's a mouthful to say, isn't it; Salsa Verde Braised Tofu stuffed Avocado. Like, holy moly! But you know what, it's a mouthful to say but so worth the mouthful of each delicious bite of this vegan dish that I made!
In our household we love Taco Tuesday but for those of us (re: Me, the cook) who choose to not eat meat, it can get a little lame after a while! Although I am not a vegan, I do love vegan dishes and I really enjoy creating yummy meals that are meat, dairy, and even gluten free. If you've been a follower for a while you might remember the 2 years that our family spent as dairy and gluten free for our son, Hudson. That lifestyle had a big impact on my family and honestly, I really liked how I felt when I removed so many things from my diet and it forced me to get creative with recipes, too. Though we have not been exclusively dairy and gluten free for some time now, I do often gravitate towards those meals because they can be both very healthy and still really filling.
Besides the amazing flavor, the amount of vegetables, and how easy this is to make, I love how versatile the braised tofu is! I enjoyed mine in an avocado with some fresh lime juice squeezed over it but this tofu would also be so good in a tortilla, in a taco shell, or even on top of nachos.
This recipe is a Farmers Market special for sure! Aside from the tofu every single component can be sourced from your local farmers market or even from your own vegetable garden if you're lucky enough to have one! And if you don't, we are in the same boat so don't worry!
Now, I call this "salsa verde" loosely but it is definitely a close version to the classic recipe. Regardless, it is a bright and light salsa recipe that is really yummy! With some quick chopping of the onion, tomatoes, pepper, jalapeno and cilantro, and a few pulses of a food processor you'll have yourself a delicious marinade or salsa. I add about 2 cloves of garlic once it has been processed as well as some salt and pepper and lime juice.
While all the vegetables in this recipe are common to everyone I realize that tofu may not be - but I assure you, it is far easier to work with than most think. The key to making good tofu is to press all of the water out of it first. I always use extra firm tofu because it holds up better to coatings, frying, and baking so that is my go-to for tofu recipes. The trick to squeezing out the water that tofu holds is a life-changer, really!
Tofu comes in thick square blocks soaked in water so about 30 minutes prior to starting my cooking I take the tofu out, wrap each piece individually in multiple pieces of paper-towel and then stack all the heavy things that I can find on top of it! I usually put a large pan filled with heavy canned food so that it really pressing down on the tofu squeezing all of the water out. I have found that there is no maximum time-frame for this but I usually let it set for about 30 minutes and find that to be sufficient. Once the tofu has most of the water removed, slice the bricks into 1/4" planks. I like to salt and pepper the tofu before adding to a non-stick frying pan that has been heated to medium with about a tablespoon of avocado oil. I pan fry each side until golden brown - about 4 minutes per side depending on your pan and source of heat.
Since tofu is basically a bland sponge ( I say this kindly) I always add more salt and pepper right when the tofu is removed hot from the pan. I know this may seem like sodium overkill but it's worth it, I promise. Once the tofu slices have cooled down lay them out in a single layer in a dish then top with the marinade/salsa. I did two layers because my pan wasn't big enough for just one.
You should have about 1/2 cup of salsa left over after covering the tofu - be sure to reserve that. Cover the tofu and place it in the refrigerator for 30 minutes - a few hours depending on what your time-frame is. After it marinades for at least half-an-hour remove from the fridge, remove the tofu from the pan and coarsely chop it off. If you want to make a texture more like sofritas you can chop it up in the food processor but I prefer the tofu to be in bite size pieces so that it feels heartier. Heat a pan on the stove to medium and add your chopped tofu. Sautee for about 10 minutes until heated through, adding more marinade/salsa as needed so that it does not dry out.
Once it is done you can serve the tofu in a halved avocado like I did, fill a tortilla, or top some chips for vegan nachos! I use any leftover marinade/salsa to top the dish with and it is so good!
I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I did! The flavors were all so fresh and great and I loved the versatility of it, also. Even for meat-eaters this recipe can definitely hang with the best of them I tell ya!