Thursday, April 22, 2010

Tofu Tacos, Imitation, and Terrene

You caught me. I didn’t get through all those recaps of places we ate in Saint Louis. I covered my favorite, though, Sweet Art, and I’ve been thinking about how to address Terrene. I’m going to go with imitation as highest flattery.

I went to Terrene on Saturday night, and I chose it ahead of time from great blog reviews and a good website showing their menu with vegetarian choices. This page shows their “small plates” and the two dishes photographed are the two we ordered: tofu tacos and veggie “sausage” flatbread. I’m not going into detail about the restaurant because I don’t think there’s any reason to. I want to show what great variety of vegetarian food is available and some of what I eat and cook – not to get the most posts on Urbanspoon or to encourage anyone to go to certain restaurants.

When I start to write about Terrene, I can’t decide what to say. It was a nice place, and the price reflects that, and when we got there it was dimly lit and noisy with a few babies, and large tables of packs of YPs (is that what we’re calling yuppies these days?). By the time we were finishing our meal, the atmosphere had quieted and a few tables were scattered with diners lingering over drink and dessert, and it was no longer busy with hurried waiters and patrons. Or maybe the wine I had was mellowing my perception. Saint Louis, like my own Midwestern city Cincinnati, seems full of young parents and restaurants that empty by 9 o’clock. The only thing I really want to say about Terrene is that I loved their tofu tacos.

The tacos were made with chipotle-rubbed tofu, shredded lettuce, pico, and pepitas layered in corn tortillas and served with a side of salsa verde. I don’t normally use corn tortillas, but they were delicious, and the pepitas added a wonderful texture to the soft tofu. At the time, I realized this was an exceptional combination, but it’s only been in the few weeks since I’ve been home that I can’t stop thinking about them and wanted to try tofu tacos at home.


I started with my old standby, Trader Joe’s extra-firm organic tofu, and I froze it, thawed it, pressed it, and cubed it. For seasoning, I made a paste of dry seasonings* and a little canola oil , then tossed in the cubed tofu and let it wait in the fridge all afternoon. I simply baked the cubes and was really pleased with the texture and flavor of the tofu.

I served this in corn tortillas along with some sliced grape tomatoes, diced onion, and cilantro for the pico, drizzled on some salsa verde, and substituted pine nuts for the pepitas. (I know. I couldn’t find pepitas after scouring two grocery stores.) On the side? Some mashed pintos, made from dry beans, and mushrooms. And yes, I incorporated a recipe from Vegan Brunch here too – the cashew cream to cool the heat of the spicy tofu, made from cashews, vinegar, and onion. Perfect!

*3 parts paprika; 2 parts each: cumin, onion, garlic, salt, black pepper, and chili powder; 1 part each: thyme and oregano. I keep this on hand as a spice blend.

1 comment:

  1. I'm always a fan of tofu tacos! I've never been to St. Louis, but it's only about 8 hours from Memphis. I should really road-trip it soon.