Saturday, July 14, 2012

Food & Wine Recipe Series: Vegetarian from Alyssa Gorelick

Our version of Food & Wine's Tofu and Vegetable Tacos with
Eggplant-Ancho Spread from Chef Alyssa Gorelick.
This is the first installment in the Food and Wine Recipe Series. As a writer and a foodie I thought it would be fun to document our attempts at two recipes from each issue of Food & Wine Magazine.

We like to try to eat vegetarian at least once a week, but sometimes it's a little hard to come up with or find a fun, flavorful dish, especially when you're kind of new to vegetarian cooking. In the June 2012 issue of Food & Wine Magazine, Chef Alyssa Gorelick's recipe for Tofu and Vegetable Tacos with Eggplant-Ancho Spread caught my eye. The food looked good in the article and the recipe seemed easy enough to assemble (no oddball spices or especially hard-to-find ingredients) and execute, and we loved eating at Chef Gorelick's Charlotte, NC, vegetarian and vegan restaurant, Fern, so we decided to give it a shot.

You can read the full recipe on Food & Wine's website, but basically it came down to a few easy steps for the spread and the taco ingredients.

Eggplant-Ancho Spread:
Roast a medium-sized eggplant on your grill until tender, bring it inside, let it cool, then peel and drain in a colander
Put the eggplant in a blender or food processor with the ancho chiles (anchos are dried poblano peppers, we couldn't find anchos for some reason so we used fresh poblanos and it worked fine)
Put in some spices (coriander, cumin, brown sugar, salt and pepper, we added some chipotle powder to mimic the smoky flavor of the anchos)

Grilling the tofu and veggies. The grilled tomatoes
(from our garden) were smoky and sweet.

Tofu and Veggies:
Press the tofu to squeeze out the water
Slice the tofu and veggies (squash, onion, zucchini) into the right size
Put it all in a marinade of white wine, olive oil, fresh parsley and fresh mint, salt and pepper
Grill them until tender but still firm

The only problem we encountered with the recipe was getting the ancho chiles. We looked at three grocery stores and couldn't find them. I should have looked at one of the ethnic groceries in town, but I didn't. We substituted fresh poblano peppers, some chipotle powder and a touch of oil. The spread turned out great, but next time I will use the ancho chiles.

Once we grilled everything, we brought it inside, heated our tortillas and made some tacos. 

We decided to add some avocado, which was a good call, and later thought that some fresh cilantro would brighten up the dish quite well. 

My one complaint about the recipe is that it calls for flour tortillas. I prefer corn, which are less durable, but the flour ones were fine. I think I'm going to stop by a tortilleria for fresh corn tortillas next time I make this.

The tacos were great. All of the veggies and the tofu took on enough flavor from the wine, oil and herb marinade to give them a little zip, and the tomatoes brought a lot of smoky sweetness to the tacos. I liked how the eggplant-ancho spread added a little heat to the dish and gave you another texture in each bite.

We needed a side, so we made corn, which is in season now. Once it was finished cooking, we rolled it in cojita cheese, salt and pepper and each bite was sweet (from the corn) and savory (from the cojita). 

This recipe was a smash hit at the house, Lauren and I loved it. The tacos were light and fresh and  you didn't miss the meat. We'll be making this dish again soon.

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