Tofu Challenge Month
Tofu Challenge: Chinese Five Spice tofu and veggie stir fry
Friday, February 29, 2008
I can’t believe it’s the last day of February - and the end of the tofu challenge! As someone who does not routinely eat a lot of tofu, I feel like I learned a lot this month. Mostly, I learned that I really like tofu…and for the first time ever, I can actually see how people could want to eat and be satisfied with Tofurkey for Thanksgiving. Not that I intend to give up being a carnivore, but I get it.
Late last week I made a fried tofu dish inspired by a recipe in This Can’t Be Tofu, a book recommended by Allison (as a testament to how crazy busy the end of the month has been, I’m only getting around to posting it today). It was absolutely delicious and almost entirely local.
This dish could not have come at a better time - there was a bag of local hydroponically-grown yellow bell peppers in my fridge that were getting ready to go. I purchased them a few weeks ago at the Fair Food Farmstand. It seems very wrong to have bell peppers in the middle of Winter, but I could not resist at least trying them. While I can say they were absolutely not as good as Summer bell peppers, it was still lovely to have them and know they were locally grown.
In addition to the bell pepper, I included a locally grown onion, white button mushrooms, spinach, and Chinese Five Spice pressed tofu from Nature Soy [a local tofu manufacturer]. The only thing not local: the tomato, hot pepper flakes, salt and pepper, curry powder, soy sauce, and cumin seeds.
The tofu was cut into cubes and then pan-fried, and then mixed with the other stir-fried veggies. Delicious!
Tofu Challenge: Lemon Pepper Pasta
I think that this Lemon Pepper Baked Tofu is my favorite Fresh Tofu variety. The flavor is light and crisp with a little bite, and like all of Fresh Tofu’s baked varieties, the texture is sublimely dense.
The subtleties of this lemon and pepper tofu can get lost in some dishes, so I usually eat it as simply as possible. Diced into tiny cubes, it’s perfect for a lightly dressed salad, where the taste can shine. For dinner, they blend perfectly in lemon pepper pasta.
I use a pretty basic and quick recipe; the ingredients are simple and it’s easy to time everything to finish up at once. That, combined with a barely one-dollar-per-serving price, this dish could easily find it’s way into your weekly menu plan.
Lemon Pepper Tofu and Pasta
1 package (7.5 oz) Fresh Tofu’s Lemon Pepper Tofu
1 lb. angel hair pasta
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 lemons
1/3 cup chopped parsley
2 teaspoons plus a dash black pepper
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Lemon zest for garnish
Parsley for garnish
Cut lemon pepper tofu into 1/4” cubes. Heat tablespoon of oil in a frying pan, add tofu and sprinkle with a dash of pepper. Allow to brown over medium/high heat, tossing often. Right before removing from heat, squeeze juice of 1/2 lemon into pan, toss and cook for 30 to 60 seconds. Keep warm.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for three to five minutes, or until done; drain.
In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup olive oil, juice of one lemon, parsley and black pepper; stir well. Toss with pasta.
Serve pasta with tofu cubes on top, garnish with parsley and lemon zest, pepper and salt to taste. Serve hot or cold.
Many lemon pepper pasta recipes call for basil rather than parsley, which I plan on trying this summer when the basil comes in from our CSA or garden. I’d also love to try this tofu over VeganYumYum’s spicy lemon pepper fettuccine or with this lemon pepper cous-cous. Any non-local veggies you find in lemon pepper recipes could easily be replaced with seasonal ones. Except of course for the lemon. Maybe Nicole’s Tuscarora Organic Growers Co-op will come through with some lemony citrus for us?
And now, all this light and airy lemon pepper herb talk has got me jonesing for spring something fierce. Drool!
even simpler tofu options
Monday, February 18, 2008
I wouldn’t want to suggest that the soup I made yesterday was complicated or challenging at all, but there are times when I want food that’s even easier to prepare. Tonight’s version: baked tofu and sautéed brussels sprouts.
The tofu, garlic, and brussels sprouts were all local, but the soy sauce, ginger, cayenne, and lime juice that went into the sauce/marinade for the tofu were not.
Last week’s super-quick local lunch strategy was sandwiches on locally-made bread (my favorite Slow Rise multigrain) with Fresh Tofu, Inc.‘s sesame-tofu spread and baby spinach from the farmers’ market.
The spinach didn’t really want to stay in the sandwich, so it needed the plastic wrap to be packable, but those were nice lunches.
Tofu Challenge: Baked Tofu Sandwich
Looks like we’re all singing the same song here at Farm To Philly, as I too was recently hit with a nasty cold. Working outside of the home and doing the mom thing while miserably sick means my kitchen (and gym!) get a break. For meals, quick and easy have been my MO, with a little bit of spice to alleviate the sinuses. I’ve had lots of soups and sandwiches, including this yummy creation of Fresh Tofu’s baked tofu, Blooming Glen onion, spinach, roasted red peppers, homemade hot pepper spread, hummus and refried beans:
Because this tofu is already seasoned and processed, there’s no reason to press, drain or marinade. Each package comes with four mini blocks, each of which I simply sliced “open” and heated in a non-oiled pan. I also grilled the bread, complet from Bakers on Broad, using a light coating of olive oil. There was no method to the rest of the ingredients—I just scavenged the refrigerator. I’m pretty sure you already guessed that, though. The result was a filling and flavorful meal that, most importantly, didn’t require too much strain on my foggy brain.
Although I prepare Fresh Tofu’s baked tofu fairly often, this was the first time I added it to a sandwich—something I’ll definitely do again. The texture is perfectly dense, and the flavor very mild with just a hint of sesame, making it a perfect addition to just about any meal. I absolutely recommend also using it as salad topper; cut into tiny cubes and crisped in a dry frying pan, they provide a fantastic protein punch with great texture and taste. It’s also great in stirfries, either sliced into strips or cubed.
Tofu Challenge: tofu and noodle soup
Like almost everyone else, it seems, I’ve been sick for the last several days. Yesterday, having run out of other soup options, I made a nice, brothy soup with rice noodles and local tofu.
Except for the rice noodles and hot sauce, nearly everything in this soup is local: onion, garlic, crimini mushrooms, tofu, chard, and homemade veggie stock. I don’t usually eat tofu in soup—it’s often fried first, and fried is basically the only way I dislike tofu—but I think I’ll probably try this again.
Baked tofu w/vegetables + peanut sauce
Saturday, February 16, 2008
I am a fairly recent convert to tofu. To help myself along, I bought this quite helpful cookbook by Deborah Madison, author also of the Greens Cookbook and The Savory Way called This Can’t Be Tofu! My favorite way to prepare it is one she describes in the “Techniques” section where it could easily be missed: baking it. I have found that cutting the brick in thirds and then in quarters makes for nice-sized pieces, and then I bake it on parchment paper—no oil necessary. 35 mins. at 375 will give you little tofu puff—dense and chewy. Then I can do with it what I want.
I like her Tofu in Creamy Nut Butter with Scallions, but I substitute my baked squares of locally made Fresh Tofu for her fried tofu trianges. And then add a stir fry of vegetables—here, napa cabbage, yellow pepper, shitake mushrooms, and carrots. Good stuff for a winter meal.
Dark Days and Tofu Challenge: chili
Like just about everyone else I know, I’m recovering from some sort of plague. After spending many hours this past week riding the couch I finally managed to cook a little something. Between my cold and the cold outside, I wanted something filling and comforting.
Mikaela told me last month that freezing tofu will change the texture and make it more meat-like. I froze one of the blocks of Fresh Tofu I picked up from the Fair Food Farmstand and thawed it. I thought it would make a nice meat substitute for chili. Admittedly, I had my doubts - it seemed rubbery as I was tearing it up.
Oh ye of little faith!
The chili turned out to be really great and almost entirely made from local ingredients. Aside from salt, pepper, and a small can of tomato paste, that is. I used a pound of pinto beans from Margerum’s (Clark Park Farmer’s Market), a bag full of frozen corn from last year’s CSA, dried parsley from last year’s garden, and a couple jars of plum tomatoes I canned last year. And, of course, locally made tofu…which, as Mikaela promised, really does have a meaty quality. In fact, if I didn’t know it was tofu I probably wouldn’t have noticed.
On a day like today, it was an excellent lunch with a heel of sourdough bread from Le Bus. Yum!
Tofu Challenge: Tofu Noodle Soup
Saturday, February 09, 2008
I’m an idea-gatherer. An advance planner. Flying by the seat of my pants has never appealed to me so much, so it sort of took me a while to get up the nerve to make my first Tofu Challenge meal of the month. For some unknown reason, there is a real dearth of information available on what exactly to do with tofu noodles (made by Nature Soy here in Philly). I was forced to wing it.
Soup seemed to be a safe idea. And I was right - it was easy to make and didn’t require too much tofu know-how. Plus, as an added bonus, it’s good soup!
I started out with a quick saute of local garlic in olive oil. Next I added a few jars of my homemade duck stock and a few shots of soy sauce. I boiled some yellow carrots from Tuscarora Organic Growers Coop and some thinly sliced lacinato kale from Martindale’s in the stock, threw in some local shiitake mushrooms that I had dried, and at the last minute I threw in the locally made tofu noodles. A little salt, a little pepper.
I really liked the tofu noodles in the soup, but it also occurred to me that the noodles might be really good in a cheesy casserole type of dish. I would definitely use the tofu noodles again, so I might have to give it a go.
A month of soy
Monday, February 04, 2008
Welcome to February and the February Tofu Challenge!
For the month of February, we’re challenging ourselves and our readers to create one meal each week using locally made tofu. We’re lucky here in Philly to have a few local companies who make tofu - one is Fresh Tofu and the other is Nature Soy in Chinatown. Each of these tofu makers produces several varieties!
In my house right now, I have two blocks of tofu from Fresh Tofu - one refrigerated and one frozen. I also have tofu noodles and pressed Chinese Five Spice tofu from Sun Kee. What will I make? Well, I’m not too sure. I’m not a big eater of tofu. I’ve been scouring the internet and my collection of cookbooks for some ideas. This will no doubt be a very exciting month for me - I love having the opportunity to cook new things!
I’d like to invite FTP readers to join us in Tofu Challenge Month - email me if you’re interested in having your tofu meals profiled here every week!