One Dish, Two Spoons: Tofu

21 Jan

Jess is completely over the moon this week as our 1 Dish 2 Spoons segment takes on a completely vegetarian spin with our common ingredient TOFU!  This week sees Tess and Jess tackle this vegetarian staple and try it out on some suspicious taste-testers.

Jess’ Take

Tofu.  Say the word and you get a myriad of reactions from people ranging from pure delight to absolute disgust with a bit of apprehension thrown in for good measure.  Whenever someone wrinkles their nose at me and protests my decision to eat tofu, I reply: well, clearly you’ve never tried MY tofu.

Tofu on its own is a plain, flavourless canvas begging you to put your own personal spin on it.  My personal preference when it comes to tofu is the extra-firm variety.   When it comes to food, Texture is a big thing for me and really, the texture of extra-firm tofu is the only one I genuinely like.  The key to preparing Tofu is to press all excess moisture out.  Tofu is like a sponge- it naturally wants to soak up all the liquids and flavours you stick on it, but to maximize that you need to get the water out first.

There are all sorts of contraptions on the market to do this, but so long as you have 2 plates and a heavy object at home, save your money.

When I manage to plan ahead (read: almost never) I will do this overnight; otherwise give yourself 30 minutes to an hour to get most of the moisture out.

This was a dish I used to make, in some form or other, quite often.  For some reason I haven’t made it in well over a year and found myself craving it the other night.  No time like the present to act on making a fun, tried, tested and true recipe!

Actually, that’s a lie; the peanut sauce is totally modified with the addition of coconut milk.  Getting me to make the exact same dish more than once is like asking a celebrity to wear the same dress on the red carpet twice.

Enjoy!

Thai Peanut Tofu and Vegetables

1 lb tofu

Salt and pepper

1 tbsp vegetable oil

¾ c. natural peanut butter

¾ c. lite coconut milk

1 tsp sesame oil

2 cloves of garlic, minced

½ tsp ground ginger

¼ tsp red pepper flakes

1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced

3 medium carrots, sliced into matchsticks

150 g rice noodles

Directions

Combine peanut butter, coconut milk, sesame oil, garlic, ginger and red pepper flakes in a medium sized bowl; whisk until well combined and set aside.

Place rice noodles in a large bowl, cover with boiling water.  Let stand for 5 minutes, drain and set aside.

Press tofu for at least an hour or overnight.  Slice into 1 inch cubes, season with salt and pepper.

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium high heat.   Add in tofu and cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly until it starts to turn a golden brown then add in your carrots.  Cook for an additional 5 minutes until carrots start to soften and then add in bell pepper.

Once the vegetables turn tender-crisp add in rice noodles and peanut sauce, toss to evenly coat.  Serve and enjoy.

-Jess

Tess’ Take

I don’t know what it is, but lately I’ve been craving vegetarian food like crazy!  Maybe it’s from months of being on a protein-based diet where I ate meat 6 times a day, or maybe…. nope, that’s probably it.  More than that though, vegetarian/vegan cooking appeals to me because of its fresh and unprocessed ingredients, and natural approach to eating.  The only thing about eating more vegetarian dishes though is all the carbs, which I have a hard time wrapping my head around because, again, for months (no, years) I was on a carb-averse diet.  Which is why having a sandwich for dinner tonight was a bit strange, but also very liberating!!

I make amazing sandwiches.  Ask anyone; the standard meet-and-cheese does not fly with me.  For today’s post I had about a million ideas of what kind of sandwich to make – roasted red pepper with goat cheese, bbq sauce with cheddar and coleslaw, BLT style… (I’ll bet you didn’t know tofu sandwiches were so versatile!)  I usually like to follow recipes when I cook, but there were so many that interested me that I just couldn’t decide!  Finally I just gave into my sandwich A.D.D. and assembled all my favourite ingredients, then somehow managed to pile neatly arranged them on a bun.  This sandwich is vegetarian, but is easily made vegan by omitting the cheese topping.

Tofu Sandwich A.D.D.

Ingredients

(For Spread)

2 tbs Cheezy Hummus

3 sundried tomatoes

1 cup spinach

(For Tofu)

2 tbs olive oil

2 tbs balasmic vinegar

1/3 block firm tofu

(For Toppings)

1/2 zucchini, thinly sliced lengthwise

1/4 eggplant, thinly sliced lengthwise

1/2 red or orange pepper, seeded and cut into 3″ pieces

some thinly sliced red onion

some lettuce or spinach

cheese (not shown)

And of course, a delicious bread of your choosing

Directions

1) Prepare tofu: when preparing tofu you should first press it so it’ll drain any liquid, making it easier to absorb the marinade you’ll be using.  You can do this by first cutting the tofu into 1/2″ pieces, them placing them on a cloth or paper towel between two plates.  Let it drain overnight, or at least a few hours.  If you don’t have time to do this, no biggie.

Pressing the tofu

2) Preheat oven to 350F.  Marinate the tofu in olive oil and balsamic vinegar for 10-20 minutes (See “Ingredients” image).  While it’s marinating, cut up your veggies.

3) Brush a cookie sheet with olive oil or coat it with Pam.  Spread the veggies and tofu evenly.  Bake for approximately 20 minutes until veggies are tender.  Note: I left my tofu in a bit longer because I like it a little bit crispy!  You can also broil it to speed up the process 😉

I also sprinkled the veggies with some of the leftover oil/balsamic

4) While you’re waiting for your veggies/tofu, prepare your spread: mix the oil, hummus, spinach, and sun dried tomatoes in a food processor or blender, and blend until a pesto consistency is achieved.

5) Optional: when your veggies are nearly done, pop in your bread with some cheese on top to warm it up!  You could also use a panini grill once the sandwich is all assembled, which I think would be PHENOMENAL!   If anyone tries this, please let me know how it turns out!

Art-Is-In 12 Grain bun..... yummmmmm


6) Assemble sandwich and enjoy!

Also pictured: vegetable juice (kale, celery, cucumber, beet, and apple)

Between the sun dried tomatoes, balsamic, and peppers this sandwich was actually a little bit sweet, which was a pleasant change.  The spread was AMAZING… hands down, the key to the whole thing.  I know it sounds a bit labour-intensive, but man was it worth it!   I thoroughly enjoyed every single bite, and am very happy I decided to give in to all my cravings in one sandwich.  Good thing I bought 2 loaves of bread 😉

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