Monday, March 7, 2011
herbed balsamic tofu
A few months ago, I watched this video on TED:
I still haven't committed to becoming a weekday vegetarian yet; it's been kind of tricky, what with all the high-protein Men's Health diet and fitness plans we've been doing for several months. Still, I've been thinking seriously about it for a while, and the fact that I'm finding some excellent ways to prepare tofu doesn't hurt because it means that D and I are eating it more often than we used to. Maybe we can gradually work our way up from one-night-a-week veg to five.
I basically have three recipes for tofu. They all involve marinating the tofu and then cooking it at a high temperature so that it gets nicely browned on the outside. Two of them - one Indian-spiced and the other Asian-flavored - come from Heidi Swanson's miraculous blog, 101 Cookbooks, but for this post I'm including the one I came up with myself.
The tofu turns out delicious: it's kind of sweet, garlicky, and tangy, all at the same time, and it gets so wonderfully brown that you could almost convince yourself that you're eating meat. A serving suggestion: last week I served this tofu mixed into some brown rice, and in a brilliantly serendipitous move, D suggested that we also stir in some sliced almonds and raisins. Delicious. A sprinkling of cinnamon, and it might taste a little Moroccan. The best news is that it's really good for you. The only fat comes from the olive oil and the tofu, and it's mostly unsaturated.
So, on to the vegan goodness...
herbed balsamic tofu
1 package extra-firm tofu (the firmest you can get), cubed or in a block
1/3 cup good, dark balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. sesame oil
2 to 3 tbsp. reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. fresh chives, chopped
1 tbsp. fresh thyme, stripped and chopped (reserve 1 tsp. for garnish)
4 cloves garlic, chopped
salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper
Take the tofu out of its package and drain it. If it’s in a block, cut it into one-inch cubes. Lay it out in a single layer on a thick tea towel (not the fuzzy terry kind). Put another towel on top of it, and gently press and squeeze the cubes with the towel until some of the liquid has been blotted. Let it sit under the towel, pressing it again gently a couple more times, while you prepare the marinade.
In a medium-sized bowl with a tightly-fitting lid, whisk together remaining ingredients. Add tofu and very gently toss it with a rubber scraper until the marinade has coated all of it. Cover tightly and place in the refrigerator for at least a couple of hours. Once or twice, pull it out and gently turn the bowl upside-down and then right side up to recoat the pieces with the marinade.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Empty the tofu and marinade into a shallow oven-safe skillet and arrange tofu in a single layer. Bake for 15 minutes or so, and then pull it out, shake it or move it around a little to turn the tofu cubes. (WARNING: Keep your head back when you open the oven door unless you want a face full of hot, vaporized vinegar.) Repeat this step a couple of times during the cooking period so that all sides of the tofu cubes get browned. You’ll probably need to cook the tofu for about 30 minutes total, but just keep an eye on it. If it’s nicely browned but not burned, and most of the marinade has evaporated, then it’s ready.
Remove to a bowl and cool a bit – it’s much better at room temperature! Sprinkle with reserved thyme and serve.