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Hemp "Tofu" Tostadas, Salsa Roja

I ran into hemp tofu this weekend and was pleasantly surprised - it has none of the spongy tofu texture and more a crumbly ricotta feel and nutty taste. You can use firm tofu as well, squeezing out excess water by draining it between paper towels.

This salsa roja is my basic go-to recipe (yields ~3 cups uncooked). Cooking-down the salsa is an important step, as it concentrates the flavors. In this recipe you do this when you cook it with the tofu. See note below on how to cook the salsa by itself. I like shortcuts so I don't bother with peeling the tomatoes, which makes for a chunkier sauce.

Chunky Salsa Roja

Salsa Roja Ingredients:

4 roma tomatoes

1/3 white onion, peeled

1 large garlic clove, unpeeled

2 chile serranos (1 if sensitive to spice)

1 teaspoon kosher salt

Tofu Tostada Ingredients:

1 8oz pack firm hemp tofu, cut into even small squares

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

2 tablespoons olive oil

freshly ground black pepper

4 corn tortillas

1 avocado

1/4 cup cilantro leaves

Heat a saucepan over high heat. Place tomatoes, onion, garlic, and chiles on pan and char for ~10 minutes, turning over to roast on all sides. The serrano and garlic cook quicker so remove once browned. Peel garlic clove; it should be soft and smell sweet. Set aside.

Once evenly blistered, remove tomatoes and onion and roughly chop. Place in blender with garlic and serrano. While pan is still hot, deglaze pan by pouring in ~1/3 cup water, scraping up browned bits in the bottom. Add water to blender and blend on low until ingredients are just combined ~30 seconds. Make sure to leave texture! (if you are only making salsa, see note below).

Dry off pan. Reheat over medium-high heat, add olive oil. When oil is shimmery, add hemp tofu cubes, seasoning with freshly ground pepper. Cook until browned on all sides, only stirring when needed. Add salsa to pan, season with salt and smoked paprika. Turn heat to high and cook until sauce reduces by half and is bright red, about 10 minutes. The hemp tofu will loose some of it's shape. Taste and adjust seasoning.

While sauce reduces, make tostadas. You can place tortillas on a paper towel in microwave and heat for 30 seconds, flipping over, until crispy (about 2 minutes total). Or heat a dry skillet over medium-high heat, and place tortillas, flipping over when puffy.

Assemble tostadas, placing avocado beneath the tofu. Top with a few fresh cilantro leaves.

Serves 2

Salsa Roja Note: after blending ingredients, heat a glug of neutral oil in a pot over medium high heat. Add the salsa (careful, it will splatter!) and cook until reduced by at least a third and bright red. Stir frequently so the bottom doesn't stick to pan or burn.

Hemp "tofu" with salsa roja

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