Breakfast Tacos with Spicy Cashew Sauce

(vegan, can be gluten free)

May I start out by saying, this is one of my favourite recipes on here for so many reasons. First of all, who doesn’t love tacos? Or breakfast for that matter? And hey, if you don’t like tacos, make this into a wrap instead… Or a scramble with a side of toast! If you don’t like breakfast, these guys can easily pass for lunch or dinner. Second, they are entirely customizable. I enjoy these with a tofu scramble, but you can easily make them with lentils or even eggs. And then there are the mix-ins and toppings and sauce options – the possibilities are endless with these breakfast (or lunch.. or dinner…) tacos!

As much as I would love to get into all the possible combos of this recipe, I have kept things simple with a foolproof and classic recipe for spicy, crunchy, flavour-packed tacos you can enjoy for breakfast, or anytime of the day!

Nutrition Note: Plant-based Iron & Vitamin C

Tofu and legumes, as well as spinach, are great sources of plant-based iron. Although plant-based iron (nonheme) is less readily absorbed than animal-based iron (heme), you can boost its absorption by consuming it with a source of vitamin C! In these tacos for example, I have added bell peppers and purple/red cabbage as vitamin C sources alongside the tofu, and have cooked the tofu scramble in a cast-iron pan, which adds extra nonheme iron. These little additions and tweaks can be important, especially if you are vegetarian or vegan, or have increased iron needs.

Ingredients

(makes ~4 medium tacos)

for the tacos:

  • 4 small-medium whole wheat tortillas
  • 1/2 block extra firm tofu, lightly pressed*
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/3 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 tsp garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 3-4 handfuls fresh spinach
  • 1/2 bell pepper (yellow, orange, or red)
  • purple cabbage, for topping
  • avocado, for topping

for the spicy cashew sauce:

  • 1/2 cup cashews, soaked**
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Directions

for the tacos:

  1. Heat the olive oil in a pan, and add the chopped onion. Cook until translucent. Add the minced garlic (adding the garlic later prevents it from burning).
  2. Add the turmeric, paprika, cumin, salt, and pepper to the pan and mix. Slice the lightly pressed extra firm tofu into 3-4 large pieces and, one piece at a time, crumble into the pan using your fingers. Mix until the tofu is well coated by the spices. Cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add the fresh spinach to the pan, mix, and cover/let sit for a few minutes until it cooks down slightly. Then remove from heat and add the chopped bell pepper.
  4. In a small pan, heat the tortillas (one at a time) until lightly browned and crispy. Remove from pan and place on a cooling rack or plate in the shape of a taco – in other words, fold the tortilla over once so it’s resting on its side and, if you want, place a small container, ball of tinfoil, or really anything (get creative) to keep its shape open and taco-like. Let them cool in that shape and they should be crispy little taco shells in no time (around 5-10 minutes)!
  5. Make the spicy cashew sauce. In a small food processor or blender, blend the soaked cashews, water, and lemon juice until relatively smooth. Add the paprika, chili powder, garlic powder, cayenne, cumin, and salt and blend or mix until well combined.
  6. Once the tortillas have cooled and crisped, fill with the tofu scramble and top with chopped purple cabbage, avocado, and spicy cashew sauce. Store any leftovers of the tofu scramble in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3-4 days, and the cashew sauce in a mason jar in the fridge for up to a week.

Notes

*Tofu holds a lot of water (like a sponge!), so pressing the tofu helps make room for all those flavours and spices too be soaked up instead, and gives the tofu a more desirable (…less soggy) texture. However, I have to admit, when I scramble tofu I don’t press it for very long, just a good (but gentle) squeeze or two, or light press on a dish towel. This is mainly because when you crumble the tofu into the pan, the water easily cooks off the little pieces, so there is no huge risk of sogginess. Just make sure you use extra firm!

*Feel free to switch up the tofu for lentils, or even eggs! Or try a mixture of crumbled tofu and lentils (highly recommend).

**Place the cashews in water for a few hours, or for a quicker method, soak them in hot water for an hour or so! Soaking the cashews helps them blend smoother.

FOR GLUTEN FREE:

  • Use gluten free wraps or taco shells. The tortillas may not crisp up as well, so feel free to make this into a wrap instead! Or omit the tortillas all together and have on/with toast.

FOR NUT FREE:

  • Omit the cashew sauce, and use hot sauce (or any other sauce of your choosing), or make a spicy guacamole!
Sources:

Smolin LA, Grosvenor MB, Gurfinkel D. Nutrition Science and Applications, Second Canadian Edition. Wiley. 2015.

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