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 -Thai Red Curry Soup

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So you might have noticed that I am still on a soup kick.  It may have something to do with the constant deluge of rain blown sideways by strong gusts of wind.  This soup, in particular, is designed to use winter veggies like sweet potato, squash and mushrooms with fresh ginger  in a deliciously spicy red curry, coconut milk broth. I added tofu for extra protein and millet, brown rice ramen noodles to make a pretty hearty meal in a bowl.

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I love the spicy but comforting flavors of this soup. It’s loaded with vegetables that make it a nutritional feast but also provide interest.  Each spoonful is a different culinary adventure, from the creaminess of the sweet potato, to the earthy mushrooms and the just tender bok choy all swimming in a yummy coconut curry broth.

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What really makes it though, is the garnishes of sliced red onion and fresh cilantro (or parsley if you’re not a cilantro lover), so don’t skip this step. You can use whatever vegetables you prefer or have on hand.  Japanese eggplant would be a good choice.  Just keep in mind that some veggies take longer than others to cook.

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TIPS: I used whole grain ramen noodles which I was trying for the first time.  They had a good flavor and texture but broke into small pieces which made it easier to eat but not quite as pretty as intended.  Rice vermicelli or spaghetti would hold it’s shape better.

This recipe calls for several Thai spices which are easy to find in my grocery stores. I’ll admit that the list of ingredients is pretty long but each adds an important flavor to the mix.  If you don’t have the ingredients or can’t be bothered to buy them, you may be lucky enough to find a curry soup base in your market.  Just add the fresh ingredients and you’re done.

Draining the tofu isn’t absolutely necessary, especially if you are pressed for time, since it’s going into a liquid base, but I prefer to squeeze out the water it was packed in to allow the flavors of the broth to be absorbed.  It makes the tofu more flavorful.

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THAI RED CURRY SOUP

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp grated fresh ginger
  • 2-3 Tbsn Thai red curry paste
  • 2 tsp red chili paste (optional)
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 13oz. can coconut milk
  • 2 Tbsn fish sauce or Bragg’s liquid aminos (GF)
  • 1 Tbsn lime juice
  • 2 Tbsn brown or white sugar
  • 1 block extra firm tofu, drained and diced
  • 1 small sweet potato, peeled and sliced or diced
  • 1 cup winter squash or zucchini, sliced or diced
  • 4-5 shitake or criminy mushrooms, sliced
  • 2-3 sliced baby bok choy, 1 cup shredded Napa cabbage or 1 cup shredded leafy greens
  • 6 oz. whole grain ramen noodles or rice vermicelli noodles (GF)
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 red onion

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  • Drain tofu on papertowels, cover with papertowels and gently press water out by hand or with a heavy pan.  Let sit while you prepare the other ingredients. Add garlic, ginger, red curry paste, red pepper paste, vegetable broth, coconut milk fish sauce and half of sugar to a large soup pot and bring almost to boiling. Reduce to a simmer. Taste and add rest of sugar if desired and more

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  • Add sweet potato, tofu and squash (If you are using zucchini, add with the bok choy) and simmer for about 10 minutes.

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  • Add bok choy, mushrooms and noodles and cook another five minutes.

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  • Serve topped with sliced red onion, chopped fresh cilantro and maybe a drizzle of sriracha.

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Thai Red Curry Soup

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp grated fresh ginger
  • 2-3 Tbsn Thai red curry paste
  • 2 tsp red chili paste (optional)
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 13.5 oz. can coconut milk
  • 2 Tbsn fish sauce or Bragg’s liquid aminos
  • 1 Tbsn lime juice
  • 2 Tbsn brown or white sugar
  • 1 block extra firm tofu, drained and diced
  • 1 small sweet potato, peeled and sliced or diced
  • 1 cup winter squash or zucchini, sliced or diced
  • 4-5 shitake or criminy mushrooms, sliced
  • 2-3 sliced baby bok choy, 1 cup shredded Napa cabbage or 1 cup shredded leafy greens
  • 6 oz. whole grain ramen noodles or rice vermicelli noodles
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 red onion
  1. Drain tofu on papertowels, cover with papertowels and gently press water out by hand or with a heavy pan.  Let sit while you prepare the other ingredients. Add garlic, ginger, red curry paste, red pepper paste, vegetable broth, coconut milk fish sauce and half of sugar to a large soup pot and bring almost to boiling. Reduce to a simmer. Taste and add rest of sugar if desired and more
  2. Add sweet potato and squash (If you are using zucchini, add with the bok choy) and simmer for about 10 minutes.
  3. Add bok choy, mushrooms and noodles and cook another five minutes.
  4. Serve topped with sliced red onion, chopped fresh cilantro and maybe a drizzle of sriracha.

 

Meatless Monday – Hot and Sour Soup

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If hot soup equals a warm belly, what about hot soup that is also hot-spicy? As you can see, I’m still on my hot soup bender – and judging by the forecast for seven days of rain next week, it’s not ending any time soon. My husband is in bed with the sniffles so I decided that Hot and Sour Soup would be the perfect antidote. I am a true believer in the medicinal power of soup.  I used to rely on chicken soup but now I’m looking for vegetarian options and it looks like this one will do the trick.  Hot and Sour Soup contains anti inflammatory aromatics, like red chile and ginger, lending some truth to the old saying, that ‘soup is medicine in a bowl.’

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This soup has all the healing properties you need to fight infections, help digestion and boost both your immune system and your metabolism.  It’s also a great way to warm up on a cold winter’s day. The soup’s warm and silky texture feels great on a sore throat, and its hot and sour flavors help clear a stuffy nose and sweat out toxins. Plus the combination of mushrooms, tofu and bamboo shoots swimming in a flavorful broth that tickles your tastebuds is reason enough to enjoy this satisfying dish.

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Photo Credit:  Wikimedia.org

 

Here’s your fun fact of the day:  Bamboo Shoots are not just an empty filler only found in Chinese food.  They are rich in dietary fiber, vitamins (including B vitamins) and minerals, especially copper and iron which are used to produce red blood cells and potassium, important for healthy heart and blood pressure. They also contain 2.5 grams of protein per 100 g serving for the low price of 27 calories. Not bad for such an innocuous little veggie…  The photo above is of a young bamboo shoot just peeking above the ground.  I decided to look it up because I didn’t know what they look like in nature.  You’re welcome.

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I have made this soup once before but this time I’m perfecting it.  It is based on a Tyler Florence recipe which I veganized and added a bit more spice (because I love it). Here is the original Food Network Recipe which was my inspiration. Don’t forget to try a few drops of sesame oil on the top. Mmmm…

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TIPS:  Most Hot and Sour recipes call for Chinese mushrooms like wood ear or cloud ear which are easier to find dried than fresh.  However, any kind of mushroom can be used.  I used a combination of fresh criminy and maitake which provides good flavor and texture. If you use dried mushrooms, pour boiling water over them and let sit for about a half hour to reconstitute, then slice.  The scallions, cilantro and sesame oil are optional garnishes but I think they add a lot.  I liked the sesame oil so much that next time I may add it right to the pot.

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HOT AND SOUR SOUP

  • 2 Tbsn light oil (avocado or canola)
  • 1 Tbsn fresh ginger, finely grated (or ginger paste)
  • 2 Tbsn red chili paste
  • 1 4 oz can bamboo shoots
  • 2 cups criminy mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 small clump maitake mushrooms(optional)
  • 1  block extra firm tofu, cubed
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce (or liquid aminos for GF)
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp white pepper
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 quarts vegetable broth
  • 3 Tbsn cornstarch + 1/4 cup water
  • 1 large egg, room temperature (optional)
  • scallions, chopped (optional)
  • cilantro, chopped (optional)
  • sesame oil (optional)

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  • If you are using dried mushrooms, put them in a small bowl and cover with boiling water. Let stand for 30 minutes to reconstitute. Drain and rinse and discard any hard clusters in the centers.  Wipe fresh mushrooms clean with a paper towel and slice.  Pull apart Maitake mushrooms.

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  • Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high flame. Add the ginger, chili paste, mushrooms and bamboo shoots; cook and stir for 1 minute to infuse the flavor.

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  • Combine the soy sauce, vinegar, salt, pepper, and sugar in a small bowl and add it to the mushroom mixture.  Gently stir in the tofu taking care not to break the cubes apart.

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  • Add the vegetable broth and simmer for 10 minutes. Dissolve the cornstarch in the water and stir until smooth. Slowly pour it into the soup and continue to simmer until the soup thickens.

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  • Remove the soup from the heat and stir in 1 direction to get a current going, then stop stirring. Slowly pour in the beaten egg in a steady stream. It should feather and spread out in the broth.

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  • Serve with chopped green onions and cilantro, and drizzle with a few drops of sesame oil, if desired.

Hot and Sour Soup

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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  • 2 Tbsn light oil (avocado or canola)
  • 1 Tbsn fresh ginger, finely grated (or ginger paste)
  • 2 Tbsn red chili paste
  • 1 4 oz can bamboo shoots
  • 2 cups criminy mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 small clump maitake mushrooms(optional)
  • 1  block extra firm tofu, cubed
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce (or liquid aminos for GF)
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp white pepper
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 quarts vegetable broth
  • 3 Tbsn cornstarch + 1/4 cup water
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • scallions, chopped (optional)
  • cilantro, chopped (optional)
  • sesame oil (optional)
  • If you are using dried mushrooms, put them in a small bowl and cover with boiling water. Let stand for 30 minutes to reconstitute. Drain and rinse and discard any hard clusters in the centers.  Wipe fresh mushrooms clean with a paper towel and slice.  Pull apart Maitake mushrooms.
  • Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high flame. Add the ginger, chili paste, mushrooms and bamboo shoots; cook and stir for 1 minute to infuse the flavor.
  • Combine the soy sauce, vinegar, salt, pepper, and sugar in a small bowl and add it to the mushroom mixture.  Gently stir in the tofu taking care not to break the cubes apart.
  • Add the vegetable broth and simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Dissolve the cornstarch in the water and stir until smooth. Slowly pour it into the soup and continue to simmer until the soup thickens.
  • Remove the soup from the heat and stir in 1 direction to get a current going, then stop stirring. Slowly pour in the beaten egg in a steady stream. It should feather and spread out in the broth.
  • Serve with chopped green onions and cilantro, and drizzle with a few drops of sesame oil, if desired.

Meatless Monday – Grilled Tofu with Jalapeno Pesto

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If summertime means throwing something on the grill for dinner, but you are trying to eat less meat for whatever reason, well this one is for you and ready in less than 30 minutes!  This tofu is grilled to crispy perfection on the outside but creamy on the inside and topped with a spicy, savory jalapeno pesto that will become your new favorite. Trust me, you will want to put it on everything! The first time I made this for an omnivorous crowd, I had to defend the platter from my meat eating friends to make sure there was something left for the vegetarians.  The next time I made a double portion and  it still disappeared…20160702_164054

I happen to be a big fan of tofu, and it’s an obvious and easy meat substitute, however many people think it’s boring-or even unhealthy.  90% of soy is GMO (genetically modified and pesticide laden) and most of that is processed to make soy bean oil.  What remains after the oil has been extracted is called soybean meal, much of which is fed to livestock (read meat) or turned into processed foods as soy protein. (both soybean oil and most soy protein should be avoided) Unlike soy protein, tofu is minimally processed and usually made from organic soybeans . Tofu is a great source of protein that is free from unhealthy animal fats. Best of all, it’s bland flavor allows flavors to be absorbed making it quite an adaptable food. It can be stewed, fried, grilled, baked, blended into sauces or even as a pizza topping. (Stay tuned for next week’s Barbecued Tofu Pizza which was also a fan favorite).-Joyce

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GRILLED TOFU WITH JALAPENO PESTO

1 block extra firm tofu
1/4 cup olive oil
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 lemon, zest and juice
1 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper

JALAPENO PESTO
1 cup cilantro or parsley
1 cup fresh basil leaves
1-2 jalapeno or red chili peppers
1 lemon, zest and juice
1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup grated parmesan
1/2 cup pine nuts or pistachios

  •  Drain tofu and slice in half horizontally, then slice in half again, leaving 4 thick rectangular pieces.  You can cut those in half or leave as is. Place tofu slices in a single layer on a double layer of paper towels. Cover with another double layer and place a heavy object on top to help press the water out of the tofu. Let sit for at least 10 minutes or more.

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  • In a large ziplock bag, place olive oil, garlic and spices and shake to combine. Carefully arrange tofu in a single layer to the bag, seal and allow marinade to cover all sides. Set aside.

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  • Seed jalapenos and pulse them in a food processor until minced.  Add remaining ingredients, except for olive oil and pulse until if forms a paste. While running, pour in olive oil and pulse until combine. Spoon into a serving dish and set aside.

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  • Preheat oiled grill until smoking hot, about 550 degrees. Grill tofu in a single layer about 5 minutes per side.  Grill marks should be visible.

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  • Remove tofu to a serving platter and serve with jalapeno pesto.

Grilled Tofu with Jalapeno Pesto

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

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1 cup cilantro or parsley
1 cup fresh basil leaves
1-2 jalapeno or red chili peppers
1 lemon, zest and juice
1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup grated parmesan
1/2 cup pine nuts or pistachios

  •  Drain tofu and slice in half horizontally, then slice in half again, leaving 4 thick rectangular pieces.  You can cut those in half or leave as is.
  • Place tofu slices in a single layer on a double layer of paper towels. Cover with another double layer and place a heavy object on top to help press the water out of the tofu. Let sit for at least 10 minutes or more.
  • In a large ziplock bag, place olive oil, garlic and spices and shake to combine.
  • Carefully arrange tofu in a single layer to the bag, seal and allow marinade to cover all sides. Set aside.
  • Seed jalapenos and pulse them in a food processor until minced.  Add remaining ingredients, except for olive oil and pulse until if forms a paste. While running, pour in olive oil and pulse until combine.
  • Spoon into a serving dish and set aside.
  • Preheat oiled grill until smoking hot, about 550 degrees. Grill tofu in a single layer about 5 minutes per side.  Grill marks should be visible.
  • Remove tofu to a serving platter and serve with jalapeno pesto.

Wheatless Wednesday – Kung Pao Tofu with Zoodles

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Love noodles but not the Carbs? Enter Zoodles, ‘noodles’ made from zucchini spirals that are surprisingly noodle-like.  They nestle right into this tasty Kung Pao Sauce just like regular pasta – but without the extra calories.  This Kung Pao was a crowd favorite; crispy tofu, bell pepper, ‘noodles’, all in a spicy, delicious sauce, topped with peanuts and green onions.  Even my non-tofu lovers gobbled it up and asked for more! Cutting the tofu into a small dice and cooking it separately from the sauce is key. With Kung Pao though, it’s really all about the sauce.  This one is spicy, but not not mouth burning, and easy to adjust to suit your personal tastes.  Alas, if you are one of those people that can’t be bothered with recipes that have lots of ingredients, there is any easy solution. Just pick one up one of the many wonderful sauces sitting on the shelf in your local market and you’re good to go!

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I’m not really a gadget person, however this one is a game changer.  In seconds, zucchini (or any vegetable) becomes spaghetti, angel hair or ribbons. There are countless uses for these shapes; pastas, salads and casseroles to name a few.  Other than my food processor and my lemon zester, this is a favorite.  Just in case you don’t know what a spiral slicer can do, just check out the photo below showing zucchini being sliced using three different blades. For this recipe I used the center blade to make a thicker noodle.

Making zoodles is easy if you have a spiralizer, and FUN!  If you have a picky eater who won’t eat anything green, you can peel the zucchini first to remove the offending green, then spiralize into beautiful ‘noodles’ that may fool even the pickiest of eaters. I wish I had known about zoodles back in the day when my little boys only ate pasta with butter!   I prefer keeping the peel on since so many of the nutrients are in or right under the skin, but any nutrients is better than none…

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TIPS:  This is a mildly spicy Kung Pao Sauce.  To adjust spiciness, add more or less of the red pepper flakes and red chili paste.  Taste sauce to make sure you like the amount of spice before adding to the pan.  It will continue to develop flavor as it cooks and combines with the sesame oil, garlic and ginger.  For large appetites, you might want to double the tofu  (Yes, they will like it.) or serve with brown rice. If you do make rice, toss a one inch chunk of peeled ginger into the pot to give the rice a nice gingery flavor.  Remove the ginger before serving.

Recipe Adapted from Skinny Taste Kung Pao Chicken Zoodles For Two

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KUNG PAO TOFU WITH ZOODLES

1 block extra firm tofu
2 Tbsn olive, avocado or coconut oil
2 -3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp fresh ginger, grated (or ginger paste)
salt and pepper
2-3 medium zucchini
1 red bell pepper
1 green bell pepper
2-3 scallions
1/2 cup dry roasted peanuts (or more)

KUNG PAO SAUCE

2 Tbsn soy sauce (or wheat free Tamari)
1 Tbsn balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsn hoisin sauce
1 Tbsn red chili paste
1 tsp red pepper flakes (or more)
1 Tbsn sugar
1 Tbsn cornstarch
2 Tbsn water

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  • Drain block of tofu and cut into 1/2 inch cubes.  Place in a single layer on a double thickness of papertowels.  Cover with more paper towels and place a heavy object on top (like a cast iron pan) to help press out water. Let sit at least 10 minutes.

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  • Using a spiralizer fitted with a shredder blade (this makes a thicker noodle), or a mandolin fitted with a julienne blade, cut the zucchini into long spaghetti-like strips. If using a spiralizer, cut the strands into pieces that are about 8 inches long.

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  • In a small bowl or measuring cup, whisk together soy sauce, balsamic, hoisin, water, red chili paste, sugar and cornstarch; set aside.

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  • Cut scallions into one inch pieces, then thinly julienne OR thinly slice into circles.

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  • Cut bell peppers into 1/2 inch dice.  Measure out peanuts and roughly chop them or leave them whole.

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  • Heat oil in a large, deep nonstick pan or wok over medium-high heat. Add the cubed tofu, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring several times to brown all six sides, about 5 minutes.

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  • Remove tofu to a plate and set aside.

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  • Reduce heat to medium, add sesame oil, garlic and ginger to the skillet and cook until fragrant, about  30 seconds. Add the bell pepper, stir in soy sauce mixture and bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until thickened and bubbling, about 2 minutes.

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  • Stir in zucchini noodles and cook, mixing for two or three minutes until just tender and mixed with the sauce. If it seems dry, don’t worry the zucchini will release moisture which helps create a sauce.

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  • Once zucchini is cooked to your liking, add the tofu, half of the peanuts and scallions and stir to combine.

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  • Serve with more peanuts and scallions on top.

Kung Pao Tofu with Zoodles

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print
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1 block extra firm tofu
2 Tbsn olive, avocado or coconut oil
2 -3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp fresh ginger, grated (or ginger paste)
salt and pepper
2-3 medium zucchini
1 red bell pepper
1 green bell pepper
2-3 scallions
1/2 cup dry roasted peanuts (or more)

KUNG PAO SAUCE

2 Tbsn soy sauce (or wheat free Tamari)
1 Tbsn balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsn hoisin sauce
1 Tbsn red chili paste
1 tsp red pepper flakes (or more)
1 Tbsn sugar
1 Tbsn cornstarch
2 Tbsn water

  • Drain block of tofu and cut into 1/2 inch cubes.  Place in a single layer on a double thickness of papertowels.  Cover with more paper towels and place a heavy object on top (like a cast iron pan) to help press out water. Let sit at least 10 minutes.
  • Using a spiralizer fitted with a shredder blade (this makes a thicker noodle), or a mandolin fitted with a julienne blade, cut the zucchini into long spaghetti-like strips. If using a spiralizer, cut the strands into pieces that are about 8 inches long.
  • In a small bowl or measuring cup, whisk together soy sauce, balsamic, hoisin, water, red chili paste, sugar and cornstarch; set aside.
  • Cut scallions into one inch pieces, then thinly julienne OR thinly slice into circles.  Cut bell peppers into 1/2 inch dice.
  • Heat oil in a large, deep nonstick pan or wok over medium-high heat. Add the cubed tofu, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring several times to brown all six sides, about 5 minutes.
  • Remove tofu to a plate and set aside.
  • Reduce heat to medium, add sesame oil, garlic and ginger to the skillet and cook until fragrant, about  30 seconds. Add the bell pepper, stir in soy sauce mixture and bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until thickened and bubbling, about 2 minutes.
  • Stir in zucchini noodles and cook, mixing for two or three minutes until just tender and mixed with the sauce. If it seems dry, don’t worry the zucchini will release moisture which helps create a sauce.
  • Once zucchini is cooked to your liking, add the tofu, half of the peanuts and scallions and stir to combine.
  • Serve with more peanuts and scallions on top.

Meatless Monday – Spicy Tofu and Mandarin Skewers

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Grill marks are sexy!  Barbecue aficionados know what I’m talking about.  There is something completely satisfying about the getting that perfect sear, as evidenced by lovely straight grill marks.  Well vegetarians can have it too! Now that grilling season is in full force, non-meat eaters can be part of the fun. There are many goodies that can be thrown on the grill that are not slabs of meat.   These Tofu skewers are deliciously spicy and easy to make.  They only take a few minutes for assembly but require about an hour to properly marinate.  The sesame, soy, chili marinade is the key here, and tofu, which is normally fairly bland, is great at soaking up flavorful marinades.  So get your grill on!

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The mandarin slices are not just to make the skewers look pretty.  When grilled, their flavor is intensified into a lovely smoky, sweetness and the rind chars, making the whole fruit good enough to eat.  I don’t normally eat citrus skins (except for Meyer Lemon) because they are tough and bitter – but I ate these charred little orange wheels and they were delicious!  They also add a dose of vitamin C, vitamin A and anti-oxidants, especially their skin which has higher concentrates of the nutrients!  If you don’t have access to small orange citrus like clementines, tangerines or satsuma, lemons would also be a good choice.

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Have you ever wondered what the difference is between oranges and the myriad other small orangish citrus fruits you see at the market? Oranges and Mandarin Oranges (also  known as Tangerines) are part of the citrus family. Tangerines are related varieties of oranges which are smaller in size than oranges, and have a loose, easily peelable skin (officially called the pericarp) and a sweeter juicy flesh (known as arils). They are also known as mandarin oranges in Europe and satsumas in Japan.  Here are a few more varieties on Tangerines:

  • Tangelos, also known as honeybell, are hybrid between tangerine and orange (Citrus sinensis) or grapefruit (Citrus paradisi). Tangelos, like tangerines, have loose skin and juicy sweet flavored segments. They are distinguished from oranges by a characteristic knob at the stem end of the fruit.
  • Tangors (Citrus nobilis) are cross between oranges (C. sinensis) and tangerine (C. reticulata). They feature large size, and sweet-tart flavor similar to oranges.
  • Clementines, another member of citrus family, are cross between mandarin and sweet oranges. They are smaller, have smooth glossy skin, and very sweet, juicy, almost seedless segments.

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TIPS:  Tofu is great on the grill, just don’t forget to drain it on papertowels before putting it in the marinade or it won’t soak up the flavors properly.  Unlike meat and poultry marinades, which must be cooked or thrown away, this marinade is multi-purpose. The marinade can be reserved and used to brush the tofu skewers while cooking and then again as a dip.  If you prefer to serve the skewers with a thicker dipping/drizzling sauce, simmer marinade for several minutes in a small saucepan.  Enjoy!

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SPICY TOFU AND MANDARIN SKEWERS

1 block extra firm tofu
3 mandarins (or other small citrus fruit)

MARINADE
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 Tbsn sesame oil
1/4 cup rice vinegar
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsn red chili paste

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  • Cut tofu block into 12 rectangular pieces.  Place on  double papertowels and cover with more papertowels.  Set something heavy on top to help press out the water.  Let sit about 15 minutes. If using bamboo or wooden skewers, let them s0ak in water for 20 minutes or so to prevent them from burning.

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  • In a bowl large enough to hold the tofu in a single layer, whisk together the marinade ingredients.

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  • Add tofu and spoon marinade over tofu to coat. Cover and let rest for 1 hour (and up to to 24 hours).  For best results, turn the tofu so another side is down (in the marinade) every 10-15 minutes until all sides are coated (Or another option would be to marinate them in a ziploc bag).

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  • Slice mandarins into rounds, leaving skin on.

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  • Thread the tofu onto skewers adding a slice of mandarin between each piece. (reserve the marinade) Grill the skewers, turning once and basting frequently with the reserved marinade, until browned on both sides, 4 to 6 minutes total.

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  • Serve with reserved marinade.

Spicy Tofu and Mandarin Skewers

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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1 block extra firm tofu
3 mandarins (or other small citrus fruit)

MARINADE
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 Tbsn sesame oil
1/4 cup rice vinegar
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsn red chili paste

  • Cut tofu block into 12 rectangular pieces.  Place on  double papertowels and cover with more papertowels.  Set something heavy on top to help press out the water.  Let sit about 15 minutes.
  • If using bamboo or wooden skewers, let them s0ak in water for 20 minutes or so to prevent them from burning.
  • In a bowl large enough to hold the tofu in a single layer, whisk together the marinade ingredients.
  • Add tofu and spoon marinade over tofu to coat. Cover and let rest for 1 hour (and up to to 24 hours)
  • For best results, turn the tofu so another side is down (in the marinade) every 10-15 minutes until all sides are coated (Or another option would be to marinate them in a ziploc bag).
  • Slice mandarins into rounds, leaving skin on.
  • Thread the tofu onto skewers adding a slice of mandarin between each piece. (reserve the marinade)
  • Grill the skewers, turning once and basting frequently with the reserved marinade, until browned on both sides, 4 to 6 minutes total.
  • Serve with reserved marinade

Meatless Monday – Spicy Sesame Tofu, Broccoli and Mushrooms

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Winner Winner Tofu Dinner!  Yep, it’s Meatless Monday and we’re going vegan, green and spicy!  As they say, we’ve come a long way, baby!  When my three boys were little it was hard to get them to eat their veggies, (salads, forget it!) except for frozen peas and broccoli.  When I say frozen peas, I mean they liked them best still frozen like little icy pieces of green goodness.  That was a favorite snack for them to nibble on when they were in their high chairs waiting for me to make the rest of their dinner.  They were so cute, curling their fat little fingers around the tiny peas that would roll around on the tray…And trust me, it couldn’t be easier!  Broccoli was also a winner but only acceptable if  steamed and served with a mini dish of soy sauce for dipping.  Done and done!  Now that my youngest is 20, it’s no surprise that we have moved beyond frozen peas and plain veggies. My sons also eat (and enjoy) salads at dinnertime.  Will wonders never cease!  Those of you parents whose kids aren’t there yet, have faith.  It will happen… Meanwhile, frozen peas.

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Well this Broccoli Tofu dish is like a grown up version of the kiddie broccoli dipped in soy sauce, with a lot more flavor and a definite kick.  The tofu provides ample protein, just make sure you buy organic, non-GMO tofu.  Broccoli is rich in fiber and a great source of vitamin C (one cup of cooked broccoli provides as much as an orange) and a host of other essential vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients.  Mushrooms are not only delicious, they are the only fruit or vegetable that naturally provides Vitamin D.  They are also a good source of B vitamins, iron and antioxidants.  So tossed together in one meal, this trio is a nutritional powerhouse.  And sesame seeds they’re not just a decoration. They are rich in protein, vitamins and minerals.  Did I mention the sauce is so tasty, you’ll consider licking your plate?

TIPS:  I have not mastered the art of wok cooking and timing each vegetable to be done at the same time by pushing the veggies up the side, as the darned things always fall back into the center. I actually use a cast iron pan instead of a wok and I prefer to cook each vegetable separately and then toss them all together at the end with a tasty sauce.  If you are better with a wok, feel free to attempt the precision timing thing and disregard the following instructions, however for those that are wok-challenged like me, I swear by my approach.  For added flavor (and pizazz) try using both white and black sesame seeds. The sauce can be adjusted for spiciness by adding more or less red pepper flakes.

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SPICY SESAME TOFU, BROCCOLI AND MUSHROOMS

1 block extra firm tofu (organic)
1 small bunch broccoli
6-8 mushrooms (any kind – criminy, shitake, etc)
1/4 cup avocado, coconut or other high heat oil
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 scallion, thinly sliced
2 tsp toasted sesame seeds (or 1 1/2 tsp white and 1/2 tsp black)
2 Tbsn soy sauce
2 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp red pepper flakes (more or less to taste)
1 tsp sugar or honey

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  • Remove tofu from container and cut into equal thickness slices, then cut each slice in half and then half again.  Place on papertowels in a single layer, put another layer of papertowels on top and  place a heavy pan on top to press out the water.  Let sit at least 10 minutes.

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  • Combine garlic, scallion, sesame seeds, soy sauce, sesame oil, red pepper flakes and sugar together in a small bowl and set aside.

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  • Cut broccoli into florets.

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  •  If your broccoli has nice thick stems, peel and slice them and cut to similar size as florets

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  • Wipe mushrooms with a damp papertowel and slice.

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  • Heat half of oil in a heavy pan or wok and cook tofu on medium high heat until golden on all four sides.  Remove tofu to a plate and set aside.

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  • Add a bit more oil and saute broccoli on medium heat about 5 minutes or until softened but still bright green.  If the pan gets too dry add water not more oil.  Remove from pan and set aside.

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  • Add last bit of oil to pan and saute mushrooms until they lose their water.

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  • Put broccoli back in with mushrooms and toss to combine. Check broccoli for doneness (to your liking)

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  • Add tofu back into the pan. Pour sauce over the top and gently toss.  Serve over rice, if desired.

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Spicy Sesame Tofu, Broccoli and Mushrooms

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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1 block extra firm tofu (organic)
1 bunch broccoli
8-10 mushrooms (any kind – criminy, shitake, etc)
1/4 cup avocado, coconut or other high heat oil
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 scallion, thinly sliced
2 tsp toasted sesame seeds (or 1 1/2 tsp white and 1/2 tsp black)
2 Tbsn soy sauce
2 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp red pepper flakes (more or less to taste)
1 tsp sugar or honey

  • Remove tofu from container and cut into equal thickness slices, then cut each slice in half and then half again.  Place on papertowels in a single layer, put another layer of papertowels on top and  place a heavy pan on top to press out the water.  Let sit at least 10 minutes.
  • Combine garlic, scallion, sesame seeds, soy sauce, sesame oil, red pepper flakes and sugar together in a small bowl and set aside.
  • Cut broccoli into florets.  If your broccoli has nice thick stems, peel and slice them and cut to similar size as florets
  • Wipe mushrooms with a damp papertowel and slice.
  • Heat half of oil in a heavy pan or wok and cook tofu on medium high heat until golden on all four sides.  Remove tofu to a plate and set aside.
  • Add a bit more oil and saute broccoli on medium heat about 5 minutes or until softened but still bright green.  If the pan gets too dry add water not more oil.  Remove from pan and set aside.
  • Add last bit of oil to pan and saute mushrooms until they lose their water.
  • Put broccoli back in with mushrooms and toss to combine. Check broccoli for doneness (to your liking)
  • Add tofu and gently combine.
  • Pour sauce over the top and gently toss.
  • Serve over rice, if desired.

Meatless Monday – Eggplant, Kale & Tofu with Black Bean Sauce

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Are you a lover or a hater?  Tofu gets a bad rap and seems to trigger a love/hate reaction. I am totally a lover, I think it’s delicious and guilt free-just sayin’.  Let’s talk about what’s good about tofu besides the obvious – no animals were harmed in the making of my dinner!  Tofu is high in protein, low in fat, and naturally cholesterol-free. along with providing a whole slew of healthful nutrients. It is fairly bland in flavor and easily absorbs flavorful sauces and marinades so it’s easy to manipulate in cooking. So why does tofu get a bad rap?  Well some people just don’t like the taste and texture but there is controversy beyond the likability aspect. Tofu is a processed soy product, and the verdict is still out on it’s health benefits and risks.  For more info click HERE.  It’s quite a complicated topic and no one seems to agree.  So for now, I will keep making delicious (and guilt free) tofu dishes like this one with eggplant and a yummy black bean sauce.

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This dish was a bit hit in my house.  Tofu, cooked to crispy perfection, sauteed with eggplant and kale (still the darling of the day) and coated with a tasty spicy black bean sauce. Delicious and ready in less than 30 minutes!

TIPS:  Make sure you buy organic tofu.  Over 90% of tofu produced in the U.S.  is GMO and treated with ‘Roundup” which is a poison and shouldn’t be on your dinner plate.  The more liquid you can squeeze out of your tofu, the more flavor can be absorbed.

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EGGPLANT, KALE & TOFU WITH BLACK BEAN SAUCE

14 oz firm tofu
2 Tbsn vegetable oil (avocado, coconut or other high heat oil)
1 globe or 2 Japanese eggplants
1/2 bunch (6-7 kale leaves, 0r other bitter green like collards, mustard greens or broccoli rabe)

BLACK BEAN SAUCE
2 Tbsn black bean sauce
1 tsp chili sauce (or paste)
1 tsp honey
1 tsp corn starch
1/2 tsp white or apple cider vinegar
2-3 cloves garlic, finely minced (or 1 tsp garlic paste)
1/4 cup water
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)

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  • Slice tofu block into 1 inch slices and place on double paper towels.  Cover with double paper towels and place a heavy object on top (like a heavy pan or cutting board with canned goods) to press out the water.  Let sit at least 10 minutes.  Then cut into 1 inch dice. Set aside.

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  • Cut unpeeled eggplant into 1 inch dice. Set aside.

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  • Remove rib from kale (either tearing with your hands or using a sharp knife), then cut into 1-2 inch pieces. Set aside.

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  • In a small bowl whisk together the ingredients for the black bean sauce. Set aside.

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  • Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a well-seasoned cast iron pan or non-stick pan over medium high heat. Add the tofu and cook until light brown, turning each piece over to brown all four sides, about 8-10 minutes. If tofu is sticking add a bit more oil. Remove tofu from pan and set aside.

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  • Add another tablespoon of oil to the pan over medium high heat. Add the eggplant and cook, stirring frequently, until it is soft, about 8-10 minutes. If it sticks or seems to dry, add a few tablespoons of water instead of more oil.

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  • Stir in the kale and cook until it softens, 2-3 minutes.

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  • Pour in the sauce and stir to combine.  Fold in the crispy tofu  and cook until the sauce is thick and coats the vegetables, about a minute.

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  • Serve with brown rice or noodles.

 

Eggplant, Kale & Tofu with Black Bean Sauce

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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14 oz firm tofu
2 Tbsn vegetable oil (avocado, coconut or other high heat oil)
1 globe or 2 Japanese eggplants
1/2 bunch (6-7 kale leaves, 0r other bitter green like collards, mustard greens or broccoli rabe)

BLACK BEAN SAUCE
2 Tbsn black bean sauce
1 tsp chili sauce (or paste)
1 tsp honey
1 tsp corn starch
1/2 tsp white or apple cider vinegar
2-3 cloves garlic, finely minced (or 1 tsp garlic paste)
1/4 cup water
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)

 

  • Slice tofu block into 1 inch slices and place on double paper towels.  Cover with double paper towels and place a heavy object on top (like a heavy pan or cutting board with canned goods) to press out the water.  Let sit at least 10 minutes.  Then cut into 1 inch dice. Set aside.
  • Cut unpeeled eggplant into 1 inch dice. Set aside.
  • Remove rib from kale (either tearing with your hands or using a sharp knife), then cut into 1-2 inch pieces. Set aside.
  • In a small bowl whisk together the ingredients for the black bean sauce. Set aside.
  • Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a well-seasoned cast iron pan or non-stick pan over medium high heat. Add the tofu and cook until light brown, turning each piece over to brown all four sides, about 8-10 minutes. If tofu is sticking add a bit more oil. Remove tofu from pan and set aside.
  • Add another tablespoon of oil to the pan over medium high heat. Add the eggplant and cook, stirring frequently, until it is soft, about 8-10 minutes. If it sticks or seems to dry, add a few tablespoons of water instead of more oil.
  • Stir in the kale and cook until it softens, 2-3 minutes.
  • Pour in the sauce and stir to combine.  Fold in the crispy tofu  and cook until the sauce is thick and coats the vegetables, about a minute.
  • Serve with brown rice or noodles.

Meatless Monday – Roasted Tofu with Miso Glaze and Black Barley, Fennel & Radish Salad

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Game of Thrones Season Finale meets Father’s Day meets GoodMotherDiet!  So the long anticipated Game of Thrones Season Finale happened to fall on Father’s Day (No spoilers for those that haven’t seen it yet, except to say that the show did have an interesting Father’s Day theme). In order to honor both of these important events, we decided to create a feast that was Father’s Day worthy as well as authentic to GoT. We were even lucky enough to have “Daenerys, The Mother of Dragons” show up for dinner.

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For inspiration I went, of course, to the Game of Thrones Food Blog (Yes, there really is such a thing!)  to find many dishes shown, discussed or inspired by the show or books.  As you might expect, much of the food is heavy with meat and not on the Goodmotherdiet,  so my son, Eric, is cooking a more authentic GoT menu including miniature pork pies and leg of lamb.  For the non meat eaters, I thought to attempt a Game of Thrones imagined meal, or rather what would they do with tofu if they had it.

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I marinated extra firm  tofu in a thick and flavorful sauce overnight and then broiled it on high heat.  I paired it with black barley which was widely consumed in Medieval times, (more on that if you’re interested in the history of medieval barley in my Mushroom Barley Soup Blog Post). We know that GoT is not really set in Medieval times, nor is it even set on this planet or in any time but it seems most similar to Medieval times than any other. In preparing the barley, I tried a recipe for Black Barley, Fennel and Radish Salad from Bon Appetite.  This is a large and hearty salad. Next time I make it I will half the amount of barley (1 cup).  Black Barley is a substantial grain, chewy and flavorful but pearl barley, which is lighter and softer, can be substituted.

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Roasted Tofu with Miso Glaze

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

2 containers extra firm, organic tofu
1/4 cup Miso paste
1/4 cup Mirin (or Rice Wine Vinegar with a bit of sugar or honey added)
1/8 cup soy sauce (wheat free if necessary)
1/8 cup water (if needed to mix the paste in)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
1 Tbsn fresh ginger
1/8 tsp chili powder
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes (or more to taste)
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  • Drain tofu and slice lengthwise into 1 inch rectangles.  Cover with papertowels and place a heavy object on top to help press out the liquid. Let drain 10 minutes or so.
  • Put tofu in a zip lock bag or container with a lid.

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  • Combine all other ingredients and pour over tofu, making sure to coat all sides of every piece.  Refrigerate several hours or overnight.

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  • Place marinated tofu  in a single layer on an oiled baking sheet and broil 5 – 10 minutes, or until browned.  Turn and broil the other side
  • Serve hot or room temperature
 
 

Black Barley, Fennel and Radish Salad

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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2 cups black or pearl barley, rinsed
Kosher salt
1 large  or several small fennel bulbs (about 10 ounces), 2 tablespoons fronds set aside, bulb cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch slices
2 tablespoons plus 1/2 cup olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup fresh orange juice
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1 small shallot, minced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill plus 1/2 cup dills prigs, divided
1 teaspoon finely grated orange zes4 large radishes, thinly sliced, divided
1/4 cup oil-cured olives, pitted, halved lengthwise(optional)
  • Place barley in a medium pot and add water to cover by 1 1/2 inches. Season with salt. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer uncovered until barley is tender and water is absorbed. Depending on the type of barley and your taste preferences, this can take anywhere from 45 minutes to a couple of hours.  Add water if necessary. Spread out barley on a large rimmed baking sheet; let cool.
  • While barley is cooking, toss fennel slices and 2 Tbsp. oil in a medium bowl to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Spread fennel slices out in a single layer on another rimmed baking sheet. Roast until fennel is crisp-tender and beginning to brown in spots, about 18 minutes. Let fennel cool on baking sheet.
  • Whisk orange juice, lime juice, shallot, 2 Tbsp. dill, and zest in a medium bowl. Gradually whisk in remaining 1/2 cup oil; season orange vinaigrette with salt and pepper.
  • Transfer barley to a large bowl; add roasted fennel, along with any accumulated juices on baking sheet. Add half of radishes, olives, and 1/4 cup dill sprigs. Drizzle 1/2 cup orange vinaigrette over and toss to coat; season with salt and pepper. Arrange salad on a large platter.
  • Scatter remaining radishes, reserved fennel fronds, and remaining 1/4 cup dill sprigs over salad. Pass remaining orange vinaigrette alongside for drizzling over.

TIPS:  You can halve the amount of barley for a lighter, smaller dish with more veggies and flavor.  You can also substitute pearl barley if you can’t find black barley or you prefer a softer dish.  If you don’t have dill, the fennel fronds make a good substitute.  Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

Meatless Monday – Crispy Glazed Tofu and Bok Choy

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Is tofu good or evil?  You may not be aware but the great tofu controversy abounds! I like tofu and have always thought of it as a healthful protein which is highly adaptable in recipes from stir frys to salad dressings.  However, I keep hearing that tofu is bad for you, evil even, so I decided to check into it. Tofu is a low fat, plant based, good source of protein, yet it is a processed food, in that it is no longer in its original bean form.  The beans have been made into milk, curdled, drained and pressed into blocks.  The more I looked into the great tofu question, the more confusing the issue.  Studies and opinions contradict each other-no surprise there.  Remember when coconut oil was supposed to be so terrible for us and to be avoided at all costs, and now is being touted as having health benefits ranging from weight loss and prevention of  heart disease to making your skin soft and pretty.   Andrew Weil, a well respected natural health and wellness expert, still recommends tofu as part of a healthy diet.   Click on his name to see why.   The Truth About Soy,  another seemingly unbiased view about tofu and soy (loads of information but long article) thinks the problem is not with soy but what we  have done with soy (read Genetically Modified-Roundup Ready).  90 – 94% of soy is GMO but most of that is fed to our food animals or made into soy products like baby formula (which is a different problem)  and not made into tofu.  If the label says organic or Non GMO Project it’s not genetically modified-one more reason to buy organic.   So, what did I come away with?  If you like tofu, eat it.  If you don’t like tofu, don’t.

For those that DO like tofu, here is a delicious recipe for Crispy Glazed Tofu with Bok Choy, which I adapted from Eating Well, March/April, 2014.  This is the perfect way to cook bok choy, which is delicately flavored with garlic and ginger.  The tofu is browned in a skillet first and then sautéed in a flavorful plum sauce. The outside is a bit crispy and the inside soft and creamy.   I reduced the amount of ketchup, since I’m not a ketchup lover, to let the other flavors shine, however, if you are a ketchup lover you can double or triple the amount.  I also added red pepper flakes and ginger paste for more of a zing.  Don’t skip the step of draining the tofu, which gets rid of excess water and allows the tofu to absorb the flavors.  Otherwise this is a very simple and quick meal to get on the table.  Serve over rice if desired.

 

Glazed Tofu and Bok Choy

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

1 14-ounce package extra-firm water-packed tofu, drained
1/4 cup plum (or hoisin) sauce
1 tablespoons ketchup
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine (or dry sherry/rice wine vinegar)
2 teaspoons oil plus 1 tablespoon, divided (I like avocado or coconut oil)
3 scallions, trimmed and cut into 2-inch lengths and then ribboned
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 teaspoon minced fresh ginger, divided
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
4-6 baby bok choy, quartered lengthwise
1/4 cup water
1 tsp sesame seeds
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  • Fold a kitchen towel in half and place on a cutting board. Cut tofu in half horizontally, (and then in half again leaving 4 equal pieces) and set on the towel. Put another folded towel and a weight (such as a heavy skillet) on the tofu; let drain for 15 minutes.

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  • Meanwhile, whisk plum sauce, ketchup, soy sauce and rice wine in a small bowl and place near the stove.
  • Cut the pressed tofu into 3/4-inch cubes and place near the stove.
  • Toast sesame seeds in a small pan over medium low heat for a few minutes, or until they turn golden brown.

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  • Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add scallions, garlic and ginger; cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add bok choy and cook, turning, until bright green, 1 to 2 minutes. Add water, cover and steam until tender, about 2 minutes. Transfer everything to a plate. Wipe the pan dry.

Tofu and Bok Choy4

  • Return the pan to medium-high heat, add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and heat until shimmering. Add the tofu in a single layer. Cook, without stirring, until starting to brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir and continue cooking, stirring frequently, until brown on all sides, 6 to 8 minutes more. Add the sauce; cook, stirring, until the tofu is well coated, 1 to 2 minutes.  Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve with the bok choy over brown rice, if desired.

Tofu and Bok Choy2

 

Meatless Monday – Tom Kha Tofu & Spicy Thai Salad

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Tom Kha Tofu and Spicy Thai Salad

Tom Kha Tofu & Spicy Thai Salad

Tom Kha Gai, or Thai Coconut Chicken soup is a very flavorful soup usually made with coconut milk, galangal and lemongrass.   I had it the first time in the 80’s at San Francisco’s Thep Lela Restaurant and fell in love.  I wanted to try a vegetarian version so opted for Tom Kha Teohu (tofu). Tofu works really well in this dish, which as a main course is a nice but light dinner. I paired it with a Thai inspired salad featuring napa cabbage and other julienned veggies tossed in a spicy Asian style vinaigrette.

I tried to include many substitutions for hard to find ingredients.  I don’t think you should have to restock your pantry for one meal, however, if you like Thai or Asian food, many of these ingredients are worth having on hand. I’m sure purists wouldn’t agree with me but I would rather make a great meal with what I have on hand and not worry if it’s not perfect or authentic.  I figure my only truly authentic Thai meals will be consumed while on vacation in Thailand surrounded by all the beauty and color of the country.  Lime zest and juice can be substituted for kaffir and ginger root or paste for galangal root. Several options are listed for red chili peppers which are fairly seasonal. I would not recommend using lite coconut milk unless you reduce the volume of broth which also reduced your yield. Vegans can use 1 teaspoon salt instead of fish sauce. To make this a more filling dish add more vegetables (snow peas and red bell pepper are good choices). Enjoy!

Tom Kha Tofu

1 can coconut milk

3  cups vegetable broth

6 kaffir lime leaves (or 1 T lime zest and1/8 cup lime juice

4-5 quarter-size slices, peeled fresh galangal or ginger

1 stalk fresh lemongrass or lemongrass paste

1 container extra firm tofu

2 cups shitake, button or crimini mushrooms

1  zucchini, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced into half circles

1 tablespoon Thai or Vietnamese fish sauce (Optional)

1 teaspoon sugar

1 red chili pepper, sliced into thin rings, 8-10 dried Thai birds eye peppers or 1 teaspoon Thai chili paste

small bunch fresh basil, leaves only or 1 T dried Thai basil

Thai veggies

  • Drain the tofu and slice it lengthwise into 8 equal pieces. Place the pieces on a couple of layers of papertowels and cover with a couple more.  Press gently to get out water.  Set aside.
  • Cut the lemongrass into a 6 inch piece, using only the bottom white part. Pound it with the side of a cleaver or mallot to release the flavor. You should be able to smell the lemongrass.   Cut into 2 inch pieces and pull apart
  • Bring the broth to a boil in a medium stockpot.  Add the galangal, lemongrass, sugar and lime.  Simmer 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Taste the broth.  If it has enough flavor, you can remove the solids with a slotted spoon.  Or you can leave them in for added flavor but you will have to warm your guests which items aren’t edible.
  • Add the coconut milk, chilies, fish sauce and simmer for another 5 minutes or so.
  • Taste your broth.  If it is too sour, add a bit more sugar.  Or you can add salt to taste.
  • Add the tofu. Turn down or off until shortly before you are ready to serve.
  • Turn the heat to medium, add mushrooms,zucchini and fresh basil leaves and cook about 5 minutes.  Serve hot.

Spicy Asian Salad

1/2 red bell pepper

3 Green Onions

1/2 Napa cabbage

1 large carrot

1/2 cup slivered almonds toasted in a dry skillet for about 5 minutes or until slightly golden

Slice red pepper and napa cabbage thinly and separate.  Julienne carrot(a Cuisinart or mandolin makes it easy).  Cut scallions into 2 or 3 inch sections and sliver.  Combine all ingredients.

Dressing:

1/4 cup white vinegar

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/8 cup rice vinegar

dash sesame oil

1T Soy Sauce

1 tsp .Chili Paste (Optional)

1 Garlic Clove (minced)

1/2 tsp sugar

Combine vinaigrette ingredients and toss with veggies.

Spicy Thai Salad

Meatless Monday – Green Curry Tofu

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Thai Green Curry Tofu

Green Curry Tofu over Red Thai Rice

This was my first successful vegetarian meal and it has become my go to dish and a staple in our family. It’s a little bit spicy and so flavorful that even non-vegetarians (and non tofu eaters) seem to love it.

RECIPE
Ingredients:
1 globe eggplant or 2 Japanese eggplants
2 green zucchini,
1 cup brown muchrooms (Crimini or Portabella)
1 block extra firm organic tofu
2-3 Tablespoons cooking Oil (like Canola or Safflower)
2-3 Tablespoons green curry paste (use less for a milder taste)
3 cloves garlic(peeled and finely minced)
1 teaspoon fresh ginger (peeled and finely minced)
1 can coconut milk
1 Tablespoon Asian fish sauce
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
1-2 Tablespoons white Sugar
1 cup vegetable broth (as needed)
Salt

Directions:
Cut tofu into 1/2 inch cubes, place on paper towels and let drain on an inverted board. Blot with paper towels. Dice eggplant into a 1/2 inch squares and sprinkle with salt to pull the excess water out. Dice zucchini. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil and brown tofu over medium high. Remove from pan to a large plate or bowl. Repeat with eggplant and zucchini (one at a time is best) cooking only for a few minutes as you don’t want them to overcook. Reduce heat and add garlic, ginger, green curry paste, fish sauce, soy sauce and sugar. Stir until smooth and bubbling. Add tofu and vegetables back in and simmer for a few minutes. Add vegetable broth as needed if the sauce is too thick. Serve over rice. I like long grained Red Rice from Thailand with this dish. A spinach and arugula salad with avocado, fennel and oranges in a light vinaigrette is a nice accompaniment.