Grilled Tofu and Pepper Vegetarian Tacos – Recipe

Vegetarian (and vegan) tacos filled with achiote flavore grilled tofu and peppers
Vegetarian tacos filled with grilled tofu and peppers, flavored with achiote

The secret to delicious Mexican vegetarian food (or vegan, for that matter) is to amp up the flavors and use lots of contrasting textures. These vegetarian tacos have that serious street food flavor, filled with grilled tofu and sauteed peppers, all basted with tangy achiote. They are meant to be just two or three bites. Pick ’em up, lean over your plate, and get on in there or you’ll be wearing some very tasty juices.

Making these tacos is easy, but to get started you’ll need to gather and make some components:

If you haven’t cooked with achiote (annatto) before, the easiest way is to buy a preground box. It comes as a slightly moist little brick. It isn’t always easy to find the whole seeds. El Yucateco brand is nice because it doesn’t have (or need) any synthetic food coloring added. It seems so silly that some brands add color, considering annatto already is a food coloring, the one typically used to give cheddar cheese that orange tint.

Grilled Tofu and Pepper Vegetarian Tacos
Vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free
Serves 4

  • 1.5 ounces achiote “brick” paste (aka annatto)
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons Tapatio or other hot sauce
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 10 ounces extra firm tofu cut into 1/3″ slabs and patted dry
  • 1 medium zucchini, cut into 1/3″ slabs
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 2 red and 1 yellow bell pepper, cut into strips
  • 24 corn tortillas
  1. In a small bowl, break up the achiote with a fork and mash in the oil, a little at a time until it dissolves. Mix in the cumin, hot sauce and salt.
  2. Heat up a grill or grill pan to a medium flame. Brush the tofu with the achiote oil on one side and grill until well marked. Brush the other side, flip, and grill. Repeat with the zucchini. Allow both to cool and then cut into 1/3″ dice.
  3. Heat up a frying pan over a medium-high flame. Add 2 tablespoons of the achiote oil. Saute the onion, garlic and bell peppers until very soft.
  4. Add the tofu and zucchini to the pepper mixture. Taste and adjust seasoning. It may need more salt, or a little lime or lemon juice, or more chile heat.
  5. Wrap the tortillas in a damp, clean dish towel and microwave for about 3 minutes until soft and warm.
  6. To eat, lay down two tortillas. Top with a moderate scoop of the filling, a spoonfull of guacamole and the pineapple salsa. Pass more hot sauce for those who want it.
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Posted by Michael Natkin on Monday, May 3rd, 2010 in Gluten-Free or modifiable, Main Courses, Recipes, Vegan or Modifiable.

13 Responses to “Grilled Tofu and Pepper Vegetarian Tacos – Recipe”

  1. Reply
    May 3, 2010 at 9:27 am #

    Yammy!! It looks so good!!

  2. Reply
    May 3, 2010 at 9:42 am #

    I love the mix of colors and textures with these ingredients. Wish this were my lunch!

  3. Reply
    May 3, 2010 at 10:39 am #

    Definetely trying this. Thanks!!

  4. Reply
    May 3, 2010 at 10:49 am #

    I will try this recipe in a near future. I know that because we eat vegetable tortillas and tacos pretty often and I’m starting to get quite tired of our own versions. I haven’t heard of achiote but I’ll look it up. Thanks for the recipe!

  5. Reply
    May 3, 2010 at 7:40 pm #

    Yum! I might have to try this one!

  6. Reply
    May 4, 2010 at 2:17 pm #

    Thanks for this great recipe. I have posted it on my blog with a wine pairing. I rave about how great you are 🙂

  7. Reply
    May 6, 2010 at 9:45 pm #

    Great alternative to meat. With all those flavors combined they must taste great!

  8. Reply
    June 9, 2010 at 6:48 pm #

    This looks delicious, but I am from Australia and cant find achiote anywhere! Can you recommend a replacement? Saffron?


  9. Reply
    Michael Natkin
    June 10, 2010 at 1:15 pm #

    I hear a lot from Aussie readers that can't find ingredients, I'm starting to think you guys are deprived down there :). Let's see, in a pinch if I had to make fake achiote I'd use either saffron or turmeric for the color and then probably lemon juice or tamarind for the tang. Actually, dried mango powder might be kind of a good sub – it is called amchoor and is available in Indian groceries.

  10. Reply
    August 8, 2010 at 8:33 pm #

    this was my contribution to a birthday celebration today – a fantastic choice! Delicious!!

  11. Reply
    February 9, 2012 at 12:48 pm #

    these look so good, i love the use of annatto for color and flavor! i added these to: link to


    • Reply
      February 9, 2012 at 1:28 pm #

      Haha! I’m glad to be included in such august company, and once again raise the MPAA rating for my site 🙂

  12. Reply
    February 9, 2012 at 1:41 pm #

    You’re very welcome! Herbivoracious is for everyone 🙂

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