Sauteed Red Pepper, Eggplant, Tofu Tacos to Pasta with an Herb Sauce

Sauteed Vegetable Tacos with Herb Sauce | Cook Smarts by Jess Dang

This is now officially “Herb Week” on the CS blog. On Wednesday, we showed you how to best store herbs for longest shelf life, and before that we showed you how to make a quick herb sauce that can flavor-dazzle (can I trademark that phrase?) dozens and dozens of dishes. Today we’re going to show you two different ways to utilize that herb sauce in your dinner menu. I realize so many of us are looking for ways to repurpose the dishes we make, and this blog post will be an example of how to get more out of your time and efforts. A big batch of sauteed eggplant, red pepper, and tofu become the foundation for taco fillings one night and then turned into a pasta dish the next. Both get several spoonfuls of the fresh herb sauce, which works as a salsa for the tacos and then transforms into a sauce for the pasta.

Once you get used to repurposing meals, it becomes second nature during your menu planning process. Instead of planning five different weeknight dinners each week, see if you can plan for just three dinners and reuse the leftovers in creative ways the other two nights. Ask yourself, can this be turned into a pasta sauce, the heart of a soup, a burrito, a filling for oven-roasted tomatoes / peppers, the base of a stir-fry, toppings for a salad, or a filling for a sandwich? It’s likely that it can be re-purposed into at least one of these other dishes with minimal effort. Now that’s the kind of magic we can all use in our kitchen.

Sauteed Red Pepper, Eggplant, Tofu Tacos, Repurposed for Pasta with an Herb Sauce
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Repurposed Meal
Serves: 4
Ingredients – Tacos
  • Vegetable / canola / olive oil – 3 tbs.
  • Tofu, super-firm vacuum packed – 1 lb.
  • Red pepper – 3
  • Italian eggplant – 2
  • Kosher salt
  • Herb sauce – ½ cup
  • Taco shells / tortillas (your favorite kind) – 8
  • Cotija cheese* – 2 tbs.
  • Herbs, whatever you have on hand (I happened to have chives)
Ingredients – Pasta
  • Pasta – ½ lb.
Prep
  1. Tofu – Chop into small cubes (about ⅓”)
  2. Eggplant – Chop into small cubes, the same size as the tofu
  3. Red pepper – Dice into small squares, similar width to the tofu and eggplant
  4. Herbs – Chop / mince
  5. Herb sauce – Make if you haven’t already done so. Recipe here
Make – Tacos
  1. Heat a large saute pan or frying pan over medium-high heat. Add 2 tbs. of oil and wait until the oil is warm (check by tipping the pan back and forth and looking for striations in the oil). Once oil is warm, add eggplant with a generous pinch of kosher salt Sauteed Eggplant | Cook Smarts by Jess Dang
  2. Use a wooden spoon or spatula to toss the eggplant around in the pan. Saute eggplant for about 5 minutes and then add red peppers with another pinch of kosher salt
  3. Saute for another five minutes until vegetables are cooked through. Remove from pan and then reheat the pan with remaining tablespoon of oil in the pan. Add the chopped tofu with some kosher salt and pan sear
  4. While tofu is searing, heat tortillas according to package directions if you’re using soft tortillas
  5. Once the tofu is all seared, add the vegetables back in and then season with about ¼ cup of your herb sauce. Toss until the sauce is evenly distributed and coats all your ingredients. Add additional sauce if you’d like
  6. Spoon onto your taco shells / warmed tortillas. Sprinkle on crumbled cotija and chopped / minced herbs. If you want more sauce, drizzle desired amount onto each of your tacos
  7. Tupperware the leftovers for next day’s pasta dish
Make – Pasta
  1. Fill a >4 quart pot with water. Bring it to a boil over high heat. Once it hits boiling, salt the water until it tastes like the ocean. Add pasta (I use Israeli couscous) and cook it until it’s al dente – softened but not soggy with a bit of a bite still
  2. Drain
  3. Heat a large saute pan / frying pan over medium-high heat. Add leftovers to pan and reheat
  4. Once leftovers are warm, add the pasta, and an additional quarter cup of sauce
  5. Taste and season with additional kosher salt or more sauce if needed Sauteed Red Pepper, Eggplant, Tofu Pasta | Cook Smarts by Jess Dang
Serve / Substitute / Supplements
  1. *Cotija cheese is a salty cow’s milk cheese common in Mexican cooking. Feel free to substitute with goat cheese, feta, sour cream, creme fraiche, or whatever might already be in your fridge
  2. I have a lot of clients tell me they dislike red pepper or eggplant. If you’re one of those people, substitute with chopped up green beans, mushrooms, zucchini, or butternut squash
  3. Tacos and pasta are not the only way to showcase these sauteed veggies and tofu. Other possibilities are burritos, panini filling (with melted gruyere, fontina, or gouda?), or a soup with some additional tomatoes added

 

Sauteed Red Pepper, Eggplant, Tofu Tacos | Cook Smarts by Jess Dang

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