A Post-Modern Cinco de Mayo Menu

Beet, arugula and crunchy tofu tacos, lentil chili with chocolate and a tall glass of cold horchata.

Cinco de Mayo is coming and we are going to go full-on with an off-the-meter, crowd-pleasing menu that’s surely a combination your friends have never had before. A taco and chili redux and a drink made with.....rice. Eat your salad with your hands, put chocolate in your chili and drink your rice. What?

Let’s start with tacos.

If greens are the new black then tacos are the new cupcakes. You remember. That seminal “Sex and the City” episode with Magnolia Bakery was an auspicious moment in cupcake history. Spawning ultra-expensive designer cupcake stores culminating in New York City's Babycakes – which in itself is a vortex of food trends (Cupcakes! Vegan! Gluten-free! Indie film stars!) I remember the lines snaking around the block at 10… p.m. ... on Fridays. Who knew cupcakes would ever be a legitimate stop on a weekend night crawl? I'll admit — I was a participant, too. A lemming paying $3 for a sugar high. And I look back with the same swell of pride I get when I remember my hair in the '80s. Food trends can be absurd. Many come and go. But the truly tasty will survive.

Now, next in the trend line are tacos. Taco shacks are all over the place now. If urban planners use bars as indicators of the “cool potential” of neighborhood blocks, pretty soon, taco joints will be a barometer for oncoming hipster onslaughts. Japanese tacos. Adobo tacos. Spaghetti tacos. Beer battered avocado tacos. Jackfruit tacos. I could go on.

What’s more, the proliferation of taco iterations has been buoyed by the concurrent upswell of food trucks (which I wholeheartedly support!) In fact, Pittsburgh already has one roving taco truck with another one coming in September. And if Kevin Sousa’s tweets are to be my local food oracle, then there may actually be a food truck court beyond the CMU and Pitt radius. It will take a MOVEMENT to circumvent our fair city’s arcane food truck laws. I’m in. (Get with it, city ordinance.)

I’m anteing up my contribution before "taco" becomes a four letter word. This was another one of those necessity-is-the-mother-of-invention concoctions that turned out so amazing that it graduated from leftover parfait status to a place on the Cinco de Mayo menu: A vegan taco that's just as good as a quick weekday lunch to an amazing handheld salad in a celebratory buffet. (Ooooh. Note to self: “handheld salad”: next food trend?)

This concoction was born from a beet salad recipe from my Turkmen friend Jennet, which I usually eat with Plov (a recipe featured on Oprah.com). Therefore, I call it Turkmen Tacos. I have to keep up with all this fusion.

Now what is up with putting chocolate in your chili? It's not new if you’ve had mole poblano, a very popular sauce in Mexico. Here we use it in chili to add depth to the flavors. Trust me, you will be surprised. It's guaranteed that anyone who tries it will try to figure out “what’s in it” that makes it so deliciously unique. But it'll be our secret.

You can finish your meal with some Horchata — a cinnamon-scented, sweet rice drink that's popular in Latin America. It's so light and refreshing you’ll wish you could have it everyday in the summer.

 Beet Tacos with Arugula and Crunchy Tofu

Serves 1 – can definitely be multiplied

1 medium cooked beet, small dice

1 clove garlic, pressed

1 tsp. mayonnaise or vegenaise

pinch of salt
pinch of pepper

Handful of arugula

1 tsp lemon juice

1 tsp olive oil

pinch of salt
pinch of pepper

4 oz. tofu cut into batons (smoked tofu would be great)

Olive oil – just enough to coat the bottom of pan
sliced green onions

2 soft taco shells or small tortillas, warmed

1. Prepare the beets – mix all ingredients together

2. Prepare the arugula – mix dressing ingredients, emulsify. Then toss with arugula.

3. Prepare the tofu – fry the tofu in the oil*

4. Compose – lay the the tortilla on a plate, place half the arugula, then the beets, tofu and green onions. Fold. Repeat with the other shell.

5. Yum

*Quick trick to make your pan “nonstick” – sprinkle some salt over the oil before you put in the tofu.



The recipe for Lentil Chili with Chocolate can be found here.

And David Lebovitz’ recipe for Horchata can be found here.

Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

More from Brazen Kitchen:

Mashed Potato Quinoa Puffs with Sriracha Mayo

Mashed Potato Quinoa Puffs with Sriracha Mayo

Brazen Kitchen: Who said you couldn’t eat mashed potatoes with your hands?
Why You Should Fund Kevin Sousa’s Superior Motors

Why You Should Fund Kevin Sousa’s Superior Motors

It’s not just a groundbreaking restaurant; it’s a belief in a radical idea for urban renewal.
How to Make the Ever-Spicy, Smoky Jackfruit Carnitas

How to Make the Ever-Spicy, Smoky Jackfruit Carnitas

Verde Executive Chef Justin Lewis reveals how to make his spicy best-seller, served at last week’s sold-out “veghacker” dinner.
Brazen Kitchen's Top Posts of 2014

Brazen Kitchen's Top Posts of 2014

Here are your favorite pieces from this past year.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Top 10 Things to Do in Pittsburgh in October

Top 10 Things to Do in Pittsburgh in October

This month's best bets in The 'Burgh.
The 10 Brands That Built Pittsburgh

The 10 Brands That Built Pittsburgh

From glass and aluminum to ketchup and candy, Pittsburgh has made its mark, thanks in large part to the instantly recognizable brands that remain etched not merely on its buildings — but on its DNA. We look at 10 of those brands and explore how they helped to establish and define the Steel City.
Wheels Up? What's Next for PIT

Wheels Up? What's Next for PIT

Under a new CEO, Pittsburgh International Airport heads into its 25th year while attempting to woo flyers and flights and leave its empty, post-hub days behind.
Pittsburgh's Connection to an Out-of-This-World View of Space

Pittsburgh's Connection to an Out-of-This-World View of Space

Three men at NASA serve pivotal roles in maintaining the Hubble Space Telescope, which has been taking high-resolution photos of deep space for more than 25 years. And they're all from Pittsburgh.
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

On the Blogs


Pittburgh’s Daya Dropping New Album, Headline Tour

Pittburgh’s Daya Dropping New Album, Headline Tour

The teen singing sensation from Mt. Lebanon’s tour concludes in Pittsburgh.

Comments


Pittsburgh, only cooler
PittGirl: How You Should Grade A Squishy Tongue

PittGirl: How You Should Grade A Squishy Tongue

Kennywood Park opens soon and new this season is the return of the famed whale at the entrance of Noah’s Ark. In the name of science, PittGirl paid an early visit to test the squishiness quotient of the whale's all-important tongue.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
e2 to Close in Highland Park

e2 to Close in Highland Park

Chef/owner Kate Romane will move on to a new project.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
6 Best Restaurants for College Students in Pittsburgh

6 Best Restaurants for College Students in Pittsburgh

Easy access from universities, wallet-friendly prices and really good food make these our favorite choices for the university set.

Comments


Halloween Hotlist: 10 Events That Prove Scaring is Caring

Halloween Hotlist: 10 Events That Prove Scaring is Caring

Pittsburgh is a wicked destination for spooky shenanigans. Here’s a sampling of what’s to come.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
Pirates’ Ship Sunk But Salvageable

Pirates’ Ship Sunk But Salvageable

Of all that conspired to derail the Pirates after three consecutive trips to the playoffs, the unanticipated implosions of Gerrit Cole and Francisco Liriano proved, in retrospect, to be more of a deal-breaker than anything else.

Comments


Style. Design. Goods. Hide your credit card.
Green Chic: The Boxcar Planter Set

Green Chic: The Boxcar Planter Set

The geometric set is available through the hip Ace Hotel shop.

Comments


Sean Collier's Popcorn for Dinner

The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
If All Remakes Were as Good as Magnificent Seven, We'd Really Love Remakes

If All Remakes Were as Good as Magnificent Seven, We'd Really Love Remakes

Reviews of the "Magnificent Seven" remake and "Storks," plus local movie news and notes.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
A Laid-Back Love: Kelly McHolme and Bob Stasa

A Laid-Back Love: Kelly McHolme and Bob Stasa

This Pittsburgh couple wanted their guests to be just as content as they were at their wedding.

Comments


The latest tips and trends to refresh your home.
Make Your Design Work for You: Mecox Opens In Pittsburgh

Make Your Design Work for You: Mecox Opens In Pittsburgh

To celebrate its 20th anniversary, Mecox will be opening its eighth location, but its first in Pittsburgh, in Shadyside.

Comments


The hottest topics in higher education

Thiel College to Break Ground on New Science Facility

The project will cost $4.5 million and will connect two previously existing structures.

Comments

Edit Module