Meatless Monday – Tofu ‘Steaks’ with Chimichurri Sauce

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When I made this the first time, I declared it a place where meat lovers and vegans can co-exist in happiness.  I just made it again and I still agree. Here is a  ‘steak’ a meat lover will find tasty and satisfying while a vegetarian will be in raptures…  It takes less than 30 minutes and will not disapoint.    Last time, I served the tofu steaks with brown rice and broccoli with a healthy dose of chimichurri over everything which was hearty and satisfying.  This time, I served with a simple salad of lettuces and edible flowers that I had just picked from my garden.  It’s a hot day so it was perfect.

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Each tofu steak is a hefty seven ounces although my husband has a hearty appetite and usually eats his and goes back for seconds, so I need to use two blocks of tofu if I’m serving a large eater.  I also like to make sure there are leftovers for lunch.  Its really good cold too. The tofu is first brushed with a spicy and savory marinade and then pan seared and topped with a fresh and zesty chimichurri sauce, a South and Latin American condiment that is loaded with chili peppers, fresh herbs and garlic.  Chimichurri is good on almost anything and it can be made spicy or mild depending on your taste, which is why its so popular.  Originating in Argentina, it is commonly used to top grilled steak, which is one reason it’s so good on this dish.

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Even though the tofu should be allowed to drain for about 10 minutes, this recipe still takes less than 30 minutes.  Just slice the tofu and let it drain.  While it’s draining, prepare the chimichurri sauce and the marinade.  Using a food processor for the shimichurri sauce saves time and results in a smoother sauce.  Brush the tofu with the marinade and let sit while you prepare the rice or other veggies you’re serving.  The tofu only takes about 6 minutes to cook.  Easy, fast, delicious!

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Tofu steaks can be cut in two sizes, depending on preferences.  One block serves two people, unless you have someone with a large appetite, in which you can double the recipe.  I loved the thickness (about one inch) of the steaks and my husband loved the size (7 oz each).  Tofu is normally cut into thinner slices or cubes so this is a nice difference. The outside was so flavorful and the inside had a wonderful creamy consistency that you don’t get with thinner pieces.  For 7 oz steaks, stand the tofu on end and slice vertically to get two one inch thick pieces. For 3.5 oz steaks, cut each half in half. Pictured below.

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TOFU ‘STEAKS’ WITH CHIMICHURRI SAUCE

15 – 16 oz extra firm tofu
1/4 cup avocado oil (or other high heat oil)
1 bunch broccolini(optional)
1 cup brown rice (optional)

Tofu Marinade:
2 Tbsn olive oil
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Chimichurri Sauce:
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (or red wine vinegar)
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup fresh oregano, finely chopped
1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
1/2 tsp salt
1 fresh red chili pepper, seeded and minced (or 1 tsp dried hot pepper flakes-or both)

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  •  Drain tofu and stand it on it’s end and cut in half vertically on the narrow side so you end up with two wide one inch slices.  Place tofu on double thick paper towels and top with another paper towel and place something heavy (like a cast iron pan) on top to help press out the water.  Let sit at least 10 minutes. Tofu can be cut into 7 oz or 3/5 oz ‘steaks’.  See TIPS.

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  • Mix all Chimichurri ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside. For a finer sauce, pulse in food processor.

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  • Combine tofu marinade ingredients and brush them onto tofu covering top, bottom and all sides.  Marinade should be fairly thick and pasty. Set aside.

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  • If you are serving with rice, get it started.  If you are preparing a vegetable, like baby broccolini, heat 2-3 tablespoons olive oil in a heavy skillet and saute broccolini with some chopped garlic, 8 to 10 minutes.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Remove from pan and tent with foil or cover and use a new pan for the tofu.

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  • Add more oil to the pan if necessary, or use a grill pan or grill, and heat on medium high until almost smoking.  Add tofu and cook 3-4 minutes until golden brown. Turn and cook the other side another 3-4 minutes.

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  • Serve with a big spoonful of chimichurri sauce.

Tofu Steaks with Chimichurri Sauce

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

TOFU STEAKS WITH CHIMICHURRI SAUCE

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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15 – 16 oz extra firm tofu
1/4 cup avocado oil (or other high heat oil)
1 bunch broccolini(optional)
1 cup brown rice (optional)

Tofu Marinade:
2 Tbsn olive oil
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Chimichurri Sauce:
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (or red wine vinegar)
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup fresh oregano, finely chopped
1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
1/2 tsp salt
1 fresh red chili pepper, seeded and minced (or 1 tsp dried hot pepper flakes-or both)

  •  Drain tofu and stand it on it’s end and cut in half vertically on the narrow side so you end up with two wide one inch slices.  Place tofu on double thick paper towels and top with another paper towel and place something heavy (like a cast iron pan) on top to help press out the water.  Let sit at least 10 minutes.  Tofu can be cut into 7 oz or 3/5 oz ‘steaks’.  See TIPS.
  • Mix all Chimichurri ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside.  If you prefer a smoother sauce, pulse in the food processor.
  • Combine tofu marinade ingredients and brush them onto tofu covering top, bottom and all sides.  Set aside.
  • If you are serving with rice, get it started.  If you are preparing a vegetable, like baby broccolini, heat 2-3 tablespoons olive oil in a heavy skillet and saute broccolini with some chopped garlic, 8 to 10 minutes.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Remove from pan and tent with foil or cover and use a new pan for the tofu.
  • Add more oil to the pan if necessary, or use a grill pan or grill, and heat on medium high until almost smoking.  Add tofu and cook 3-4 minutes until golden brown.
  • Turn and cook the other side another 3-4 minutes.
  • Serve with a big spoonful of chimichurri sauce.

 

 

Meatless Monday – Buffalo Cauliflower Bites (vegan, gf)

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Perfect for Game Time!  Right now we have basketball and hockey playoffs – right in the middle of baseball season.  These buffalo cauliflower bites are a crowd pleasing snack that is a twist on the traditional buffalo wings but without the chicken.  They are not meant to taste like chicken but they do taste pretty good. It’s really all about the buffalo sauce. This is a fun recipe that can cater to various tastes and dietary needs.  In my house, we have vegetarian (me) plus gluten free and dairy free omnivores.  Everyone was happy.

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I posted a recipe for Buffalo Wings Two Ways five or six years ago just before I stopped eating chicken.  It included a recipe for both chicken and cauliflower ‘wings’.  I decided to circle back and improve on the cauliflower recipe and try to give it more of a coating for the buffalo sauce to stick to.  We (me and my test kitchen peeps) went through a few variations and methods but are satisfied with this final version.  Due to my gluten free people, I used half almond meal and gluten free panko instead of flour.  I was aiming for a thicker and crisper crust.  Using white flour or gluten free white flour will result in a lighter crust which some people might prefer.  You can also use a whole grain flour like white whole wheat flour for a few extra nutrients or crushed breadcrumbs for some crunch. Any combination of flour and breadcrumbs will work as well.

20161025_160100 Why cauliflower?  For me the biggest reason is because its not chicken and I still get to have the buffalo sauce. 😉  For everyone else, cauliflower is a chameleon that can become whatever you want it to be.  It’s mild nature allows it to absorb flavors and it can be grated and formed into a multitude of carb free and gluten free foods;  rice, mashed potatoes, pizza crust, tortillas…  Cauliflower is not empty though in spite of its white color.  Its an excellent source of vitamin C and good source of B vitamins.  Click through for 18 Massive Benefits of Cauliflower

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BUFFALO CAULIFLOWER BITES

  • 1 large head cauliflower (4-5 cups) 
  • 1 cup vegan milk or water
  • 3/4 cup flour/breadcrumbs (or almond meal, GF panko)*See TIPS.
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • cooking oil spray (optional)
  • 1 cup Buffalo Sauce(some use butter so check labels) 
  • 1/2 cup Ranch or Blue Cheese Dressing (optional)
  • 1-2 cups carrot and celery sticks (optional)

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  • Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.Remove core and cut cauliflower into florets.  Cut the larger ones in half.

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  • In a medium bowl, stir together flour/bread mixture, garlic and onion powders, pepper and salt. Add milk and stir until smooth.  If it feels too thick (and its not sticking to the cauliflower), add more milk or water. Heavier flour mixtures may need more liquid.

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  • Using a fork, dip the cauliflower florets into the batter to fully coat and place on the baking sheet. Don’t crowd them, or they will stick together. Spray with cooking oil (optional). Bake for 25 minutes.

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  • While the cauliflower are baking, prepare the veggies and dips

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  • Remove the hot baking sheet from the oven.  Using a fork, dip each floret into the buffalo sauce on each cauliflower bite and place back on the baking sheet.

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  • Bake for another 10- 20 minutes.  You can broil for a few minutes for a golden color but don’t take your eyes off of them. They should be tender but not soft.

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  • Serve with your chosen veggies, dressing and some extra buffalo sauce.

Tips:

I used half almond meal and half gluten free panko (as I was serving gluten free people) which made a nice crunchy coating, however, all purpose white flour is a little lighter.    Or feel free to use a combination of flours and breadcrumbs. I also found that dipping them individually into the batter provides better coverage than brushing or stirring them all together.  Dairy free people need to check labels to make sure the Buffalo Sauce doesn’t include butter.  I used Sweet Baby Rays which does not.

Buffalo Cauliflower Bites

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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BUFFALO CAULIFLOWER BITES

  • 1 large head cauliflower (4-5 cups) 
  • 1 cup vegan milk or water
  • 3/4 cup flour/breadcrumbs (or almond meal, GF panko)*See TIPS.
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • cooking oil spray (optional)
  • 1 cup Buffalo Sauce
  • 1/2 cup Ranch or Blue Cheese Dressing (optional)
  • 1-2 cups carrot and celery sticks (optional)

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Remove core and cut cauliflower into florets.  Cut the larger ones in half.
  3. In a medium bowl, stir together flour/bread mixture, garlic and onion powders, pepper and salt.
  4. Add milk and stir until smooth.  If it feels too thick (and its not sticking to the cauliflower), add more milk or water. Heavier flour mixtures may need more liquid.
  5. Using a fork, dip the cauliflower florets into the batter to fully coat and place on the baking sheet. Don’t crowd them, or they will stick together.
  6. Spray with cooking oil (optional). Bake for 25 minutes.
  7. While the cauliflower are baking, prepare the veggies and dips (optional)
  8. Remove the hot baking sheet from the oven.  Using a fork (since they’re hot), dip each floret into the buffalo sauce on each cauliflower bite and place back on the baking sheet.
  9. Bake for another 10- 20 minutes.  You can broil for a few minutes for a golden color but don’t take your eyes off of them. They should be tender but not soft.
  10. Serve with your chosen veggies, dressing and some extra buffalo sauce.

Tips:

I used half almond meal and half gluten free panko (as I was serving gluten free people) which made a nice crunchy coating, however, all purpose white flour is a little lighter.  Or feel free to use a combination of flours and breadcrumbs.  I also found that dipping them individually into the batter provides better coverage than brushing or stirring them all together. Dairy free people need to check labels to make sure the Buffalo Sauce doesn’t include butter.  I used Sweet Baby Rays which does not.

Meatless Monday – Vegetable Paella (Vegan)

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Paella is a beautiful dish worthy of a party or gathering.  This one is loaded with fresh veggies instead of traditional Spanish ingredients, usually a combination of meats and seafood.  My veggie recipe retains the usual flavors, smoked paprica, saffron and Spanish rice but in lieu of the meats, I added artichoke, eggplant, mushrooms and fennel, and topped with roasted red peppers and capers.  Simply Delicious!

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Paella is not as hard as it’s reputation leads us to believe.  Its not like risotto which has to be constantly stirred and fussed over.  In fact, paella should be minimally disturbed after the first few minutes and if you have done it correctly, a golden crust will form on the bottom, called the socarrat, from the Spanish word “socarrar,” which means “to toast lightly,”. Once the paella is done, it can sit covered off the heat and wait until you’re ready to serve.  I used several canned items, partially as a shortcut and because some things are not in season right now.  I used fresh fennel and trumpet mushrooms (because they are available now) and fresh eggplant. I also used jarred capers, roasted red peppers and canned baby artichokes which are already fairly soft, so I added them in near the end.

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I love this combination of textures and flavors.  It turned out quite pretty and colorful.  You can substitute any vegetables that you like, just keep in mind how long they need to cook and plan accordingly.  I also used a vegan chorizo that I have had good luck with recently.  It’s made from vital wheat gluten so not gluten free but pretty tasty and combines nicely with the saffron and smoked paprika.  This ingredient is optional though.  I would like the dish either way. Some people don’t enjoy substitute meats for a variety of reasons but I like to promote those companies who are making their way into the vegan food industry. The more good products available, the better they get and the less meat people will eat.  Win win!

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TIPS:  I have a giant paella pan which was relatively inexpensive but for this recipe, I used a 12 inch cast iron pan.  It was fairly full but worked fine for the quantities.  You could use a pan a couple of inches larger and it should turn out well.  Don’t be tempted to use aromatic rices like jasmine or basmati as they don’t soak up the flavors properly and some of the long grained rices don’t have the proper texture.

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VEGETABLE PAELLA

  • 6 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 oz vegan chorizo (optional)
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon saffron threads, crumbled
  • 1 large bulb fennel, sliced
  • 14 oz can baby artichokes (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 large Japanese eggplant, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 cup mushrooms (crimini, shitake or trumpet)
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2 1/4 cups bomba, arborio or valencia rice
  • 1-2 Tbsn capers, drained
  • 1 roasted, marinated red pepper, cut into strips
  • fresh parsley or thyme for garnish (optional)

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Vegetable Paella

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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VEGETABLE PAELLA

  • 6 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 oz vegan chorizo (optional)
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon saffron threads, crumbled
  • 1 large bulb fennel, sliced
  • 14 oz can baby artichokes (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 large Japanese eggplant, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 cup mushrooms (crimini, shitake or trumpet)
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2 1/4 cups arborio or valencia rice
  • 1-2 Tbsn capers, drained
  • 1 roasted, marinated red pepper, cut into strips
  • fresh parsley or thyme for garnish (optional)