Wheatless Wednesday – Tofu ‘Steaks’ with Chimichurri Sauce

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Is there a place where meat lovers and vegans can co-exist in happiness?  I think I’ve found the holy grail!  Here is a  ‘steak’ a meat lover will find tasty and satisfying while a vegetarian will be in raptures…  Each tofu steak is a hefty seven ounces and my meat loving husband devoured his (I’m talking a full member of the clean plate club) and went back for seconds.  Furthermore, when my 20 year old son walked into the kitchen, he said “It smells so good in here!”  Winning!  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.  I also sauteed broccolini and topped that with a bit of chimichurri for added punch.  Trust me, chimichurri is good on almost anything and it can be made spicy or mild depending on your taste.  No wonder it’s so popular.  Originating in Argentina, it is commonly used to top grilled steak, which is one reason it’s so good on this dish.  Long grained brown basmati rice served as a nice base but these tofu steaks would also be great in a sandwich with crusty bread, some fresh greens and, of course, chimichurri.  I  will definitely be making this again!

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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.  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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TIPS:  I made dinner for two using one block of extra firm tofu but I knew I had a hearty appetite to consider (my husband), however, you can cut the block into fourths OR buy two blocks.  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 consistency that you don’t get with thinner pieces.  If you cut one block into fourths, stand the tofu on an end and slice lengthwise through the narrow side into 1 inch thick halves.  Then cut each half in half crosswise, resulting in four smaller one inch thick 3.5 oz. rectangles. (That is the size of my serving).

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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.

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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: 2-4
  • 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.
  • 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.

 

 

Wheatless Wednesday – Roasted Cauliflower & Chickpeas with Tomatoes and Olives

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“A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” — Lao Tzu

Yesterday was a travel day for me (a 3000 mile journey from Maine to California), starting with a three hour drive to Boston Logan, then an almost seven hour flight to SFO into headwinds.  I got home feeling tired but blessed.  No matter how long the day, any flight that lands is a good flight in my book.  I hate flying these days.  It used to be that we only had to worry about the plane breaking mid-flight but now we have much more to worry about every time we get on a plane.  It didn’t help that the ‘Safe Travels” bracelet that my friend, Stephanie, brought me back from Israel was found on the floor, (meaning the threads broke) a few days ago.  I don’t consider myself very superstitious but this kind of freaked me out.  What if it’s an omen? I mean that bracelet has done a good job of keeping the plane in the air for more than a year!  So in desperation true form  I re-tied the strings into a makeshift, albeit awkward, bracelet and put it on my wrist.  I’m now in California so it must have worked, Whew!  So why am I telling you this?  In deciding what to make for Wheatless Wednesday, I took stock of what I had on hand which wasn’t much since I haven’t been home in weeks.  I had done a quick trip to the market for essentials and picked up a small head of cauliflower so I knew that was going to be my feature.  Then I went out to my garden and harvested a few large heirloom tomatoes, a lime, fresh herbs, a couple of red chili peppers and a handful of Sun Gold cherry tomatoes.

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A quick check in my pantry yielded a can of garbanzo beans, so I was set.  I had remembered that Gwyneth Paltrow had a recipe for Roasted Cauliflower and Chickpeas with Mustard and Parsley.  I had great luck with Gwyneth’s famous White Bean and Swiss Chard Soup which was delicious so went back to her cookbook. “It’s All Good” to check out the recipe.  Since it’s still summer, barely, (The first day of Fall also known as the Autumnal Equinox is on Tuesday, September 23, 2014, less than two weeks from now.) I decided to swap out the mustard for a dressing made with my fresh herbs and chili peppers along with spices, like cumin and chili powder. First I roasted the cauliflower and garbanzos and let them cool slightly. Then I drizzled them with the slightly spicy dressing and tossed it all with halved cherry tomatoes, olives and fresh parsley.  This is a wonderful, ultra-healthy and satisfying main course, just serve with a side salad.  It also makes a great side dish paired with almost anything.

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In her book, Gwyneth also recommends using the tough outer leaves which are usually removed and discarded.  I usually throw them in my green bin or give them to the chickens next door but decided to take Gwyneth up on her challenge.  As suggested, I sliced and sautéed them in butter and garlic.  What could be bad?  I could probably eat my shoes if they were sautéed in butter and garlic… And the result?  I sprinkled them with sea salt – Delicious!  Gwyneth was right. They taste a lot like bok choy but slightly firmer.  The best part is that you get a second dish, two for the price of one!

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TIP:  I made this dish more summery by  using fresh herbs and spices in the dressing instead of mustard and I also included red chili peppers, cherry tomatoes and olives for a more salady feel.  If you would like to make Gwyneth’s original dish, omit the spices, tomatoes and olives.  For the dressing, add 1/4 cup olive oil, salt and pepper and 1 tablespoon each, Dijon mustard and seeded mustard.

Roasted Cauliflower and Chickpeas with Tomatoes and Olives

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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14-ounce can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), or 2 cups cooked
1 head of cauliflower
Extra virgin olive oil
Coarse sea salt
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup olives (any type)
1/4 cup chopped Italian Parsley
Dressing:
3 Tbsn olive oil
1 tablespoon white wine or apple cider vinegar
1 tsp lime juice (or more to taste)
1 tsp cumin (or more to taste)
1 tsp chili powder (or more to taste)
1 tbsn chopped red chilis (optional)
Freshly ground black pepper
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  • Drain chickpeas and let dry, or dry with towels.

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  • Remove the outer leaves from the head of cauliflower, core and cut into bite-sized florets.  Since garbanzos are small, I like to cut the florets pretty small too.

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  •  Toss the chickpeas and cauliflower together in a large roasting pan with 3 Tablespoons of olive oil and a big pinch of salt.  Roast at 400 degrees for about 45 minutes.

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  •  Remove from the heat and let cool, slightly, while you make the dressing.  Whisk together the oil, vinegar and spices. Add salt and pepper to taste.

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  •  Add tomatoes, olives and parsley.  Drizzle with dressing and gently combine. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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Feta, Chili & Lemon Dip

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How about an app to go with that TGIF cocktail?  (And, I’m not talking about an app for your iPhone).  If you’re inviting friends over this weekend, here is a very simple dip that takes less than 5 minutes and just involves throwing all the ingredients into a food processor.  Voila!  Add crackers or veggies and you’ve got a great appetizer.  I found this recipe on Simply Delicious.  It’s easy, quick and very tasty!  The combination of zesty feta cheese with garlic, hot red chili peppers, lemon and fresh mint leaves is surprisingly delicious.  I used one chili pepper with the seeds and it was pretty spicy, so you can lessen the heat by not including the seeds and increase the heat by adding a second chili pepper. You can also add more olive oil if you want a thinner dip for dipping rather than spreading. Happy Friday!

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Feta, Chili and Lemon Dip

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

 •6 oz feta cheese
•1 garlic clove, peeled
•zest and juice from 1 lemon
•1-2 red chilies, roughly chopped
•1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
•pepper to taste
•½ cup extra virgin olive oil

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  • Put garlic, lemon zest chilies and mint in a food processor and blend until finely minced.

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  •  Add the feta to the food processor and blend until everything is combined.

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  •  With the motor running, pour in the olive oil and blend until the dip is smooth and the desired consistency.

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  •  Transfer the dip to a serving bowl and serve.  Garnish with mint. Drizzle with more olive oil if desired.

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Wheatless Wednesday – Scallop Ceviche with Avocado and Tomatillo

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Summer officially begins on Saturday and you know what that means- long lazy days spent at the lake, cool, refreshing drinks by the pool and the return of brilliant pink and red sunsets!  It also means salads or cool foods that don’t heat up your body or your kitchen.  Ceviche is popular in South and Central America where temperatures are warm most of the year.  For the uninitiated, Ceviche is a delicious taste sensation.  Various fish or shellfish is marinated in a citrus-based mixture, usually lemons and limes. In addition to adding flavor, the citric acid causes the proteins in the seafood to become denatured, which is what makes it firm and gives it the taste and feel of being cooked.  Recipes for ceviche vary among countries but adding onions and chili peppers or other herbs and vegetables is fairly common.

My ceviche was inspired by the ingredients I had on hand (tomatillo, serrano peppers, red onion, cilantro and the first tomatoes from my garden), which give it a more Mexican flavor.  I had never used tomatillos before and bought them on a whim the other day. Tomatillo, (in Spanish “green or little tomato”) is not really a tomato but a part of the nightshade family.   If you don’t have access to tomatillos, then you can omit them from the recipe or put some of those ‘not quite ripe tomatoes’ to work for you for a similar flavor.

The ceviche needs at least 3 hours or over night to “cook” but can be assembled in less than 10 minutes.  The flavors combine for a tasty, slightly spicy and refreshing dish that is loaded with vitamins and minerals plus healthy fats.  This is perfect for when you don’t want to turn on your oven.  It makes a great appetizer served in small glasses with chips or crackers or as a main or side dish.

 

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Scallop Ceviche with Avocado and Tomatilla

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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2 lbs bay scallops
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, finely diced
2-3 Serrano peppers(or other hot pepper), seeded and diced
6 limes, 2 lemons freshly squeezed (should be enough to cover scallops)
1/2 red onion, finely diced
3-4 tomatillas
2-3 ripe tomatoes, diced
2 avocados, peeled, seeded and diced

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  • Rinse scallops and pat dry.  Place them in a ziplock bag or container with a lid.
  • Add garlic, lime and salt.
  • Dice peppers, onion and cilantro and add to scallops.
  • Remove papery skin from tomatillas and rinse to remove the sticky residue. Dice and add to the scallop mixture.
  • Gently comgine.  The scallops should be covered by lime juice.  Add a bit more if necessary.  Refrigerate at least 2 or 3 hours or overnight while the scallops “cook”.
  • Before serving pour off excess liquid, leaving a bit to keep it moist.  Add tomatoes and avocados and gently combine.

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  • Serve with crackers or tortilla chips (my fave)..

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