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:

Not Your Granny’s Oatmeal

Not Your Granny’s Oatmeal

Push the breakfast envelope with this savory oatmeal recipe by writer Sherrie Flick.
Girl Gone Wild

Girl Gone Wild

Welcome to the Brazen Kitchen, where greens are the new black.
South Side’s Amazing Café is Exactly That

South Side’s Amazing Café is Exactly That

The spot for “real food” shares its recipe for Bliss, a cinnamon-spiced chocolate cake.
Not Your Granny’s Berries and Cream

Not Your Granny’s Berries and Cream

Balsamic vinegar, fresh black pepper and coconut whipped cream add an elegant spin to this classic treat.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Top Ten Things to Do in Pittsburgh in May

Top Ten Things to Do in Pittsburgh in May

The month's best bets in The 'Burgh.
Best Doctors in Pittsburgh 2016

Best Doctors in Pittsburgh 2016

The list of the regions's 687 leading physicians across 80 specialities.
Making The Rounds: What It Means to be a Doctor in Pittsburgh

Making The Rounds: What It Means to be a Doctor in Pittsburgh

In a city known for world-class care, a life dedicated to health is rewarding, challenging, and innovative at every level — from med school to the board room.
Why Pittsburgh Police Chief Cameron McLay is Cornered

Why Pittsburgh Police Chief Cameron McLay is Cornered

Can McLay reshape the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police in his polite, communication-heavy, community-friendly, racially sensitive, 21st-century image?
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags

On the Blogs


Not Surprising: 'Burgh Among the Best for New College Grads

Not Surprising: 'Burgh Among the Best for New College Grads

According to a financial advising site, Pittsburgh is both affordable and a good place to find a job for those fresh out of college.

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
Umami Izakaya (Finally) Open in Lawrenceville

Umami Izakaya (Finally) Open in Lawrenceville

The much-anticipated Japanese pub from Tamari's Roger Li and Round Corner Cantina's Derek Burnell will serve food and drink deep into the night.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
The Best 6 Places to Get a Cup of Tea in Pittsburgh

The Best 6 Places to Get a Cup of Tea in Pittsburgh

The quiet rise of Pittsburgh's tea scene gives us a few favorite gems.

Comments


Digital Jukeboxes are Evil, Bar-Ruining Monsters

Digital Jukeboxes are Evil, Bar-Ruining Monsters

The case against TouchTunes, the streaming music loudspeaker that can't stop screwing up the vibe at local bars.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
A By-The-Numbers Draft Has Its Advantages For Steelers This Time

A By-The-Numbers Draft Has Its Advantages For Steelers This Time

For the Steelers, this is a draft that’s long on need but short on intrigue.

Comments


Style. Design. Goods. Hide your credit card.
Off to the Races

Off to the Races

Want to shade yourself in style at Derby Day and the PNC Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy Spring Hat Luncheon? Look no further.

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.
Your Mother Deserves Better than This Awful Mother's Day Movie

Your Mother Deserves Better than This Awful Mother's Day Movie

Reviews of "Mother's Day," "Keanu," "Green Room" and local film news and notes.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
What Type of Favor Do You Favor?

What Type of Favor Do You Favor?

Planning your wedding and can’t think of the best favor that will represent you and your big day? We spoke with three Pittsburgh-area couples to learn more about making the best and most personalized decision possible.

Comments


The latest tips and trends to refresh your home.
Phipps Kicks off the Planting Season

Phipps Kicks off the Planting Season

Welcome spring at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens with the Great Plant Auction, Party in the Tropics and May Market.

Comments


The hottest topics in higher education
STEM Event for Girls Planned at La Roche College

STEM Event for Girls Planned at La Roche College

The Tech Savvy program from the American Association of University Women aims to interest middle school girls in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math.

Comments

Edit Module