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Pinto Bean Tortilla Salad

Serves 6

This is my updated version of my mother’s “Texas Salad,” which she made for special occasions when I was growing up in West Texas. The vinaigrette can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 1 week. To save time, feel free to use your favorite store-bought tortilla chips instead of frying your own. After they are fried, the tortillas can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Cilantro Vinaigrette
(Makes about 3/4 cup)

1/4 cup lightly packed cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 garlic clove, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more as needed

  1. Combine the cilantro, olive and canola oils, vinegar, garlic, sugar, and salt in a blender; puree until smooth. Taste and add more salt as needed. 


1/2 cup peanut oil, for frying
6 (6-inch) corn tortillas
12 cups lightly packed, torn romaine lettuce leaves
3 cups cooked or canned no-salt-added pinto beans (from two 15-ounce cans), drained and rinsed
6 scallions, thinly sliced on the diagonal
1 cup Herb-Marinated Tofu Feta (recipe follows) or your favorite vegan or dairy feta cheese, crumbled
3/4 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, sliced

  1. Line a plate with paper towels.
  2. Pour the peanut oil into a large skillet over medium heat. Once the oil starts to shimmer, add 2 or 3 tortillas (or as many as will comfortably fit); fry them on each side until crisp and golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Lift each tortilla with tongs and let the excess oil drip off, then transfer it to the paper-towel-lined plate. Working in batches, repeat with the remaining tortillas. Let the tortillas cool, then break them into bite-size pieces.
  3. Toss the tortilla pieces with the lettuce, beans, scallions, feta, tomatoes, and 1/2 cup of the vinaigrette in a large serving bowl. Add the remaining 1/4 cup of the vinaigrette, if desired, or reserve for another use. Serve immediately.

Herb-Marinated Tofu Feta
Makes about 3 cups

This has the creaminess, tang, and saltiness of good feta, making it just the right finishing touch for so many bean dishes, including—of course—tacos. It gets better the longer it marinates. Note: Use firm, not extra-firm tofu, for the creamiest result.

1 (14-ounce) package water-packed firm tofu (preferably sprouted), drained
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for storing
2 tablespoons mild white miso
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 strips of lemon peel
1 rosemary sprig
2 sprigs of fresh thyme
2 sprigs of fresh oregano

  1. Wrap the tofu in paper towels and microwave on high for 1 minute. Unwrap, rewrap with fresh paper towels, and repeat. Unwrap, let cool, and cut into 1/2-inch cubes.
  2. While the tofu is cooling, in a medium bowl whisk together the lemon juice, vinegar, olive oil, miso, nutritional yeast, salt, and pepper.
  3. Transfer the tofu to a tall jar and pour the marinade over it. Stuff in the lemon peel, rosemary, thyme, and oregano, cover, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before using, turning the jar upside down and back a couple of times (to make sure the tofu gets coated).
  4. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. 
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