The backbone of any rancheros is the sauce, and for maximum flavor with little effort, this recipe from The Complete Plant Based Cookbook uses roasted canned diced tomatoes with molasses-y brown sugar, zesty lime juice, and fiery green chiles.
What you need:
2 (28‑ounce) cans diced tomatoes
4 teaspoons lime juice, divided, plus lime wedges for serving
1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
1 onion, chopped
½ cup chopped canned green chiles
¼ cup olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons plus ½ teaspoon chili powder, divided
4 garlic cloves, sliced thin
1 (14-ounce) package firm tofu, halved lengthwise, then cut crosswise into 12 ½-inch-thick slabs
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
4 scallions, white parts sliced thin, green parts cut into 1-inch pieces
1 avocado, halved, pitted, and diced
8 (6‑inch) corn tortillas, warmed
What you do:
- Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 500 degrees. Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Drain tomatoes in fine-mesh strainer set over bowl, pressing to extract as much juice as possible. Reserve 1¼ cups tomato juice and discard remainder. Into tomato juice, whisk 1 tablespoon lime juice and sugar.
- Into a medium bowl, add onion, chiles, 2 tablespoons oil, 2 tablespoons chili powder, garlic, and drained tomatoes, and toss. Transfer tomato mixture to prepared baking sheet and spread in an even layer. Roast until charred in spots, 35 to 40 minutes, stirring and redistributing into even layer halfway through baking. Remove from oven and set aside.
- On a paper towel-lined baking sheet, spread tofu and let drain for 20 minutes. Gently press dry with paper towels, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and sprinkle both sides with remaining ½ teaspoon chili powder.
- In 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, warm 1 tablespoon oil until just smoking. Add tofu and cook until golden and crisp on both sides, 5 to 7 minutes, and then transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.
- To same skillet, add tomato mixture and stir in reserved tomato juice mixture. Add tofu to sauce. Bring to simmer over medium heat, cover, and cook until tofu is warmed through and sauce thickens slightly, about 2 minutes.
- Into a large bowl, add remaining 1 tablespoon oil and remaining 1 teaspoon lime juice, and whisk. Add cilantro, scallions, and avocado and toss to coat.
- Onto four serving plates, divide ranchero mixture evenly and top with herb and avocado salad. Serve with warm tortillas and lime wedges.
Photo credit: America’s Test Kitchen