Day 14: Vegan Kung Pao Broccoli and Tofu–“Cooking ‘The Blooming Platter Cookbook’ Julie and Julia Style”

Kung Pao Tofu(A sequential installment from Kim Hastings, my photographer friend and, along with her vet husband, owner of Independence Veterinary Hospital, who decided on her own to cook her way through The Blooming Platter Cookbook: A Harvest of Seasonal Vegan Recipes Julie & Julia Style for her omnivorous family as a strategy for more healthy eating.)

I have had the Kung Pao Broccoli and Tofu recipe on my list for the last two weeks and replaced it each time. I have looked at it so many times that my book opens automatically to it now. Why have I been putting it off? Maybe it was the tofu, but I conquered my fear of that a few days ago so I’m doing this recipe today.

My husband is thrilled that it is a one skillet dish. He always has some comment about the state of the kitchen when I’m done cooking these days. I do honestly try to clean as I go. In fact I hear my mom’s voice in my head telling me those exact words but it usually looks like a cyclone went through my kitchen no matter what I do.

I must admit that I prepared chicken on the side so that if my men refused the tofu they could pick it out and substitute the chicken, but I’m not going to pick it out for them. I was a little worried about what kind of reactions I would get from this meal but I have to say that even I was impressed with the way the tofu looked (and tasted!) before I placed it in the warm oven.

Everything was moving along just fine until I realized I did not have the hot dried chiles. Now that is an important ingredient in Kung Pao and somehow I missed it so I just used a healthy amount of red pepper flakes instead. No problem. Everything else came together beautifully.

My family did not see the tofu part of the preparation so when they asked what it was I just said it was a veggie. That’s not a lie right? One just took it at face value and said it was good. The other tried to analyze it and decided it was fried mashed potato chunks. I think the funniest thing was that my older son came home to eat the leftovers the next day and when he took the foil off the dish, he was so upset that all that was left was the chicken and a few peanuts. His brother had beat him to it.

Get this – no one had eaten the chicken!! (Until that was all that was left of course). I think that speaks for itself about just how amazing this dish tastes. My challenge to get them to love vegetables just as much as the other items on the plate is working! I am so proud of myself – seriously proud.

~Kim Hastings

Kim Hastings

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Vegan Vietnamese Tofu Stack with Golden Shitake-Onion Saute, Herb and Peanut Pesto, and Pickled Cucumber-Carrot Relish

Vietnamese Tofu Stack with Golden Shitake Saute, Herb and Peanut Pesto, and Pickled Cucumber-CarrotsYield: 4 servings

This sensational stack was inspired by dinner Friday night at Vietnam Garden (with locations in VA Beach and Norfolk, VA).  My dinner was actually a vegan Pho with fried tofu strips, but I wanted to create a dish that capitalized on all of the same delicious tastes and textures without needing to fry the tofu, nor up the carb content with noodles.  And this beautiful dish does just that.

I do love the hydrating properties of Pho–especially after hot yoga on Friday nights(!)–and I know I could put anything in it that I wanted, e.g. unfried tofu and no noodles, but the truth is that I also didn’t want to take the time to create a rich homemade stock which is essential to Pho.

My resulting “stack” accomplished exactly what I hoped for and it is addicting!  I recommend making the Herb and Peanut Pesto and the Pickled Cucumber-Carrot Relish a day ahead so that the dish goes together even faster.  But, if your schedule doesn’t allow for that, it is still a pretty quick dish and the flavors will be plenty developed.  Just make pesto first, followed by the relish and let them sit while you saute the mushrooms and broil the tofu.

The presentation is stunning with hardly any effort thanks to the beautiful contrasting colors and shapes of the ingredients.  Your family will be wondering who’s coming to dinner!  On the other hand, make it for guests and they will be sure you labored for hours especially for them.

Vietnamese Tofu Stack with with Golden Shitake Saute, Herb and Peanut Pesto, and Pickled Cucumber-Carrot Relish

1-14 ounce box extra-firm tofu, drained, patted dry, and cut into 8 slices

Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Soy sauce (or tamari)

Herb-Peanut Pesto (recipe follows)

Golden Shitake-Onion Saute (recipe follows)

Pickled Cucumber-Carrot Relish m(recipe follows)

Sprigs of fresh thai basil, cilantro, mint; lime wedges; and/or chopped peanuts

Place tofu on an oiled or Silpat-lined baking sheet.  Sprinkle the barest hint of sea salt and pepper on each piece of tofu.  Then place one drop of soy sauce on each and rub in with your fingers to completely cover the top surface. Broil tofu or 5 minutes or until golden and slightly set.  Remove pan from oven, top each piece of tofu with about 1 generous tablespoon of Herb-Peanut Pesto, spread to the edges, and broil for another 2 minutes to heat and set pesto topping.

To serve:  spoon 1/4 of mushrooms and onions in the center of each serving plate.  Top with two pieces of broiled tofu, slightly overlapped.  Arrange Pickled Cucumber-Carrot Relish over the top and garnish as desired with a sprig of fresh herbs, wedge of lime, and/or sprinkling of chopped peanuts.  Serve immediately.

 

Herb-Peanut Pesto

(Note: at the Kroger where I shop, herbs are sold in .66 ounce containers and my garden herbs, other than rosemary and thyme, are not thriving yet, plus we can’t grow cilantro well in our climate.)

.66 ounces fresh Thai or Italian basil (Thai basil is readily available in Asian markets)

.66 onces fresh cilantro

.66 ounces fresh mint

1 small (3 inches) mild to medium chili pepper, stemmed and seeded

1/2 cup lightly salted and roasted peanuts

1 large garlic clove

Juice of 1 small lime

2 tablespoons vegan fish sauce (sold as vegetarian at Asian markets)

1/4 cup olive oil

Sea salt (if needed) and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Place all ingredients except olive oil in a food processor and pulse until finely minced, scraping down sides of bowl as needed.  With motor running, drizzle in olive oil to form a pesto, scraping down sides of bowl onc eor twice.  Taste and season with salt and pepper if desired.  If time allows, chill until serving time.

 

Golden Shitake-Onion Saute

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 large yellow onion, thinly sliced

Pinch sea salt

10 ounces golden or regular shitakes, sliced about 1/4 to 1/3-inch thick

2 large garlic clove, minced

In a large cast iron skillet, heat oil over medium-high.  Add onion and a pinch of sea salt and saute, stirring frequently for a minute or two to soften.  Add mushrooms and saute for another two to three minutes or until they have cooked down and are beginning to turn lightly golden brown.  Add garlic and continue sauteing and stirring just for another 30 seconds.  Remove from heat.

 

Pickled Cucumber-Carrot Relish

1-8 inch cucumber, thinly sliced (I use a mandolin for this task)

3/4 cup baby carrots, finely chopped (I use a food processor for this task)

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon demerara sugar (or granulated sugar)

1 tablespoon agave nectar

1/8 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes or to taste

Gently toss together all ingredients, taste and adjust seasoning if desired.  If time allows, chill until serving time.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Vegan Cauliflower-Tofu “Potato” Salad

Tofu-Cauliflower Potato SaladYield: 8 servings

After making my Vegan Cauliflower Steaks with Curry Bechamel and Candied Eggplant, I had some leftover cauliflower that I had cooked before leaving town for the weekend.  We ate beautiful food al fresca while we were away, prepared and served by our generous and gracious hostess and friend, Juliane Curvin.

Though inspired to make her flavorful lentil soup, eggplant stew, and chickpea and pomegranate seed salad, with Independence Day approaching, I had more traditional picnic fare on my mind.

Essentially, this salad is what you would get if you added cooked potato to tofu egg salad, only with cauliflower replacing the potato as a lower calorie alternative.  So, it’s a kind of a potato salad-egg salad hybrid, which works beautifully, as the ingredients are similar and so compatiable: celery, (green) onion,  pickle relish, vegan mayo, mustard,  turmeric, garlic powder, and black salt with its uncannily-similar-to-boiled-egg flavor!

 

Salad:

14 ounces extra firm tofu, pressed, wrapped in paper towels, and drained

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon black salt (lends a distinctive “boiled egg” flavor–it’s magic!)

4 stalks celery hearts, finely diced

4 green onions, thinkly sliced

2 cups cooked cauliflower florets (should be quite tender)

Dressing (recipe follows)

Optional garnish: green onion and a pinch of paprika/smoked paprika

 

In a medium-large bowl, mash tofu (I like to use my fingers) with spices and then fold in celery, green onions and cauliflower using a fork.  Add dressing and toss to completely distribute.  Check for seasoning and adjust if necessary.  Refrigerate until serving time to allow flavors to marry.  Garnish if desired

 

Dressing:

1/2 cup vegan mayonnaise

3 tablespoons sweet pickle relish (or dill pickle relish if you prefer)

1 tablespoon stone ground mustard

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

3/4 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds

3/4 teaspoon black mustard seeds

 

In a small bowl, whisk together all ingredients.  Check for seasoning and adjust if necessary.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Vegan Tacos with Chipotle Orange-Marinated Tofu (with black beans, kale, tomatoes, Chipotle Orange Sour Cream, cilantro, and toasted pepitas)

Tacos with Chipote-Orange Marinated TofuYield: 8 overstuffed tacos (2 per serving)

Believe it or not, this recipe was inspired by a “bean bowl” I enjoyed from a southwestern concession at the Atlanta airport.  (And it is such a hit that Tofutti published it here!)

I ordered their orange tofu version with grilled veggies, black beans, cilantro, and salsa,  and the combination was outstanding…and not just because I was starving for something fresh on a day of travel!

I don’t remember the terminal but the name of the establishment is Willy’s Mexicana Grill and the tofu is unforgettable!  Hopefully I can find it again on my next layover at ATL.  In the meantime, I created my own (that is even more fabulous) to share with you!

I saute the tofu–but you could also bake or even grill it–to enjoy in my stuffed soft tacos,  the aforementioned bean bowl, a buritto, an enchilada, or however your heart desires.

 

Vegan Tacos with Chipotle Orange-Marinated Tofu

Chipotle Orange-Marinated Tofu (recipe follows–prepare the day before you plan to use)

1 can rinsed and drained black beans (I like to have these ready to go in advance, and I like to saute a small onion in a tablespoon of oil, add beans, heat through, and lightly mash leaving some beans whole)

8-6 inch corn tortillas

Approximately 2 cups tightly packed fresh, raw, stemmed kale leaves, finely chopped

2 Roma tomatoes, diced

Chipotle Orange Sour Cream (recipe follows)

1/2 cup loosely packed  fresh cilantro leaves

Approximately 5 tablespoons lightly salted and roasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds)

Lightly warm each tortilla shell in a dry skillet over medium-high for a few seconds on both sides.  Fold and place two on each serving plate, folds touching.  Fill each with 1/8 of the beans, kale, tofu, and tomatoes.  Drizzle with Chipotle Orange Sour Cream, and tuck in 1/8 of the tofu leaves.  Sprinkle with pumpkin seeds and serve immediately.

 

Chipotle Orange-Marinated Tofu

Juice and zest of one large navel orange

Juice and zest of one medium, lime

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ancho chili powder

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon adobo sauce (from a can of chipotle chilies in adobo), or to taste (it’s got some heat!)

1/4 cup olive oil

Sea salt to taste (don’t skimp!)

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

14 ounces extra firm tofu, pressed and drained between paper towels, and cut into 12 cubes

1 tablespoon olive oil

Whisk together all ingredients together, except tofu and oil,  in a non-reactive bowl or carton, taste and adjust seasoning, add tofu, turn over a couple of times, and marinate over night, covered, turning occasionally if you think about it.  Heat a tablespoon of oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium-high, add tofu cubes and half of marinade (reserve remaining marinade), and saute without disturbing two to three minutes on one side or until lightly golden brown.  Flip, and cook two to three minutes more on the opposite side.  (It is not necessary to brown all 6 sides.)  Check, occasionally to make sure that tofu isn’t browning too quickly but, if it is, adjust the heat.  When cool enough to handle, cut each cube into quarters.

 

Chipotle Orange Sour Cream

Reserved Chipotle-Orange Marinade

1/3 to 1/2 cup vegan sour cream (I like Tofutti Better Than Sour Cream)

Whisk together an refrigerate, covered, until serving time.

 

Here’s a photo of my build-your-own-bowl from Willy’s Mexcican Grill.  I chose black beans, the orange-marinated tofu, corn salsa, cucumbers, and fresh cilantro:

Photo: Good vegan airport food? Yes! A black bean and orange-marinated tofu bowl with corn salsa, fresh cucumbers, and fresh cilantro at Willy's Mexicana Grill in the B Terminal at ATL. Yum!

 

 

 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

My Recipe for Vegan Miso-Roasted Pumpkin and Grilled Tofu Over Udon Noodles Is Published on OneGreenPlanet.org!

I was thrilled to come home today from a quick overnighter (yesterday was a school holiday) to North Carolina’s captivating Outer Banks to learn that the wonderful folks at One Green Planet had published my recipe for Vegan Miso-Roasted Pumpkin and Grilled Tofu over Udon Noodles.  Just click the recipe title to be taken directly to the recipe on their site.  Enjoy!

And, of course, you can find 150 more seasonal delights in:

The Blooming Platter Cookbook: A Harvest of Seasonal Vegan Recipes.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Vegan Tofu en Papillote

Yield: 8 servings

This has become one of my newest go-to recipes for dinner guests, though I made it today for lunch. It’s beautiful, light, healthful and a little special because of being baked en papillote or in parchment paper. I found the recipe online (see “Source” below), but it called for grouper. I simply substitute tofu, cut the onion in half before slicing, substitute yellow or orange bell pepper for the green and use a little less olive oil but, otherwise, I leave it as is. It’s perfect accompanied by a simple salad such as my Vegan Shitake-Cucumber-Herb Salad or my Vegan Israeli Cous-Cous Summer Salad with Champagne Vinaigrette.

2-12 ounce boxes of firm or extra-firm tofu (not Silken), placed on a cutting board with a plate and weight on top to press out excess moisture, and then sliced lengthwise into 4 equal pieces
8 rectangles of parchment paper about three times as wide as a piece of the tofu
optional: 16-4 inch lengths of kitchen twine
2 points of grape tomatoes (roasted in a dab of olive oil at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes, just until they barely start to shrivel)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium red onion, peeled, halved and sliced
1 yellow or orange bell pepper, sliced
1 tablespoon of minced garlic
1/4 cup of dry white wine or sherry (the sherry is my addition and it’s a nice alternative)
1-2 unpeeled zucchini, halved lengthwise and then sliced into 1/4-1/3″ pieces
coarse sea or kosher salt to taste
freshly cracked black pepper to taste
1/4 cup fresh basil chiffonade (stack leaves, roll tightly and slice very thinly into ribbons) or approximately 1 tablespoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano (Greek if you can find it)
a little extra-virgin olive oil

In a large cast iron skillet over medium-high, heat olive oil to shimmering. Add onions and peppers and saute, reducing heat if necessary, for about 6 minutes or until tender. Add the tomatoes, garlic and wine or sherry and simmer for another minute. Stir in zucchini, season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside.

Preheat oven t 400 degrees. Working with one piece of parchment and tofu at a time, set the tofu in the center of one of the rectangles of parchment paper. Season with salt and pepper. Top with 1/8 of vegetable mixture and sauce, and sprinkle with 1/2 tablespoon fresh basil (or 1/8 of the dried) and a pinch of dried oregano. Bring the top and bottom up edges up and over the tofu, slightly overlapping. Hold with one hand while while you secure the ends with the other to prevent any sauce from escaping. Either twist and then tie each end with the twine or fold each end up toward the center a couple of times, crease, fold under one or two times, and crease again. (I never have twine and always use the folding method I devised, which works great, especially with one hand!) Place each parcel of tofu on a large baking sheet and place on the middle rack of your preheated oven for 25-30 minutes. (The lesser time is enough for the tofu and zucchini.) Carefully transfer one packet to each plate and nudge open at the center. Drizzle with olive oil if you like and serve.

Source: Kalofagas–Greek Food & Beyond by Peter Minakis

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Vegan Marinated Tofu Ten Thousand Ways

A New Year’s Resolution to “Eat Clean” led to this feature in The Virginian-Pilot that showcases a simple formula for never-fail marinated tofu and suggested sides. Master the basic proportions of the following ingredients and then get creative: fat; salsa, sauce, paste or preserve (commercially prepared or homemade); acid; and a sweetener, preferably an unrefined one, plus optional herbs.

The secret is not only in the marinade, but in freezing the tofu before marinating. What freezing does to the texture of tofu is nothing short of astounding, making it “meaty,” chewy and very absorbent.

Get the full story at: http://hamptonroads.com/2009/01/eating-2009-clean-your-act

Photo Credit: David B. Hollingsworth
Photo Styling: Betsy DiJulio

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Print Friendly, PDF & Email