Sunday, May 03, 2009

If you are ok with having an only vaguely-Mexican Cinco de Mayo,

may I recommend you do something with the banana salsa below?

banana salsa 3

This meal came together because I am still trying to use up the can of chipotle peppers I cracked open a little while ago. (Yes they are still going, and they're good for another few weeks yet). I really like them with beans but the banana salsa completely stole the show here. I thought it would be ok, sort of interesting, but it was terrific and I know I'm going to be making it often. The cumin and cilantro and lime brought out a floral taste in the bananas and we couldn't stop eating it by the spoonful while the rest of the food was cooking.

I made pan-grilled tofu and something resembling frijoles borrachos to go with it, but I think the salsa would be great with salty tortilla chips too.

grilled tofu 3

The tofu went into a very simple marinade. You can make it as spicy as you like, but if you are making the beans to go with it I think it's best to keep the tofu on the mild side of incendiary.

This meal serves 3 people, and possibly one more if you are making something else to go with it or serving it with tortillas. However, the remaining tofu and salsa are very tasty the next day, so I recommend you make it for 2 and enjoy what's leftover.

for the tofu:

1 package extra-firm tofu, sliced into three 1/2"-thick slices and then again into triangles
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons lime juice
1 teaspoon honey
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1 teaspoon ground coriander
pinch of fine sea salt
pinch of cayenne pepper (alternatively, use a tiny bit of adobo sauce)
2 to 3 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
2 to 3 tablespoons whole cilantro leaves for garnish

Dry the tofu as best you can in layers of paper towel, gently pressing down to extract the water. Arrange the dry tofu in a dish in a single layer.

Whisk together everything but the tofu and cilantro until thoroughly combined. When that's accomplished, stir in the chopped cilantro and pour the mixture over the tofu. Marinate the tofu in the refrigerator for at least 3 or 4 hours. (Better still is to do this in the morning the day you plan to eat the tofu for dinner).

Take the dish out of the refrigerator and allow the tofu to come to room temperature while you are making the salsa and getting ready to cook the beans (see below).

While the beans are simmering, heat a grill pan over medium-high heat until it's good and hot. Lift the tofu out of the marinade and shake it a bit so that it's not dripping wet, but don't throw the leftover marinade away yet. Cook the tofu for approximately 4 minutes per side. When it's evenly browned, remove the pan from the heat and spoon the marinade remaining in the dish over the tofu.

banana salsa:

1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
juice of 1 lime
pinch of ground cumin (ideally made from seeds toasted in a dry pan and freshly ground)
pinch of sea salt
2 very ripe bananas, diced (I've been buying organic bananas lately and they're on the small side; if you have a *b i g b a n a n a* then one will do)
2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro

Whisk the olive oil, lime juice, cumin and salt together. Stir in the other ingredients.

drunkard beans:

(very similar to frijoles borrachos, meaning drunken beans, but those usually have a little bacon in them; these don't, and are simple enough to be prepared by even a drunk vegetarian)

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small red onion, finely chopped (anything between 1/3 and 1/2 cup is fine)
1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
one 25-oz can pinto beans (or 2 1/2 cups cooked pinto beans, if you are more organized about bean cookery)
approximately 2/3rds of a bottle of beer (nothing too dark; I like Red Stripe)
1 chipotle pepper, with a little adobo sauce clinging to it
fine sea salt, if needed

Rinse the beans under cold water and drain them. Sautée the onion in the olive oil until it has started to soften but not brown. Add the oregano and cumin, stir, and sautée for another minute or so. Add the beans, the chipotle pepper and the beer. Allow everything to come to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer the beans for another 20 minutes or so, stirring every so often. They'll start to disintegrate a bit and that's totally fine. Mid-way through cooking, taste them to see if they need salt. (Mine did, but if you are using salted beans they might not). Add a splash more beer if they look too dry.

When the beans are cooked to your liking, spoon them out onto plates, arrange the tofu on top of them, and put some of the banana salsa on top of that.

grilled tofu 1


  1. I'm making this for dinner tonight. I think I'll try to shoot it, but I don't think it will be as pretty as your picture!

  2. Cool, let me know how it turns out!

  3. Banana salsa was tasty. Trying the drunkard beans tonight (but with bacon!!!!!)