Golden Herbed Tofu

So… how’s everyone’s sugar hangover coming along?  This might help.  This Halloween, instead of gorging ourselves on candy, hubby and I contributed to the incomes of children’s dentists across the DC metro area by distributing handfuls of candy to our trick-or-treaters, and (muahahaha!) saved the good stuff for ourselves.  And by “good stuff,” I mean tofu.  Herb-crusted tofu, to be specific, broiled until it is golden brown on the outside and creamy on the inside.  Better than Hershey’s any day if you ask me.

I know what you might be thinking.  Tofu – really?  Doesn’t that stuff taste like, well, nothing?  Well, yeah.  But that’s the beauty of it.  Tofu is very mild in flava and so it willingly takes on any flavors you cook it with.  (Remind you of anything else?  Chicken?  Pork?  Anyone?  Bueller?)  That makes tofu extremely versatile.  But I think I found my ultimate tofu.  It’s crispy, salty and herby.  15 minutes under the broiler gives it a yummy crust and wonderful texture.  If you think you dislike tofu, try this over a bed of greens with your favorite salad dressing (Annie’s Organic Goddess for us, please!).  You might just change your mind.

Golden Herbed Tofu

1 block extra-firm tofu, rinsed and patted dry*
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
herbs de provence
kosher salt
black pepper

  • Preheat broiler to high.
  • Slice tofu as follows: cut into 1 1/2 inch thick rectangles, then cut each rectangle in half on the diagonal to form triangles.  Arrange triangles on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a Silpat.
  • Drizzle olive oil over tofu and brush with a silicone brush until olive oil lightly coats each piece.  Season generously with herbs de provence, salt and pepper.
  • Broil for 10-15 minutes (I needed the full 15, but if your broiler has more oomph than mine you may need less – so check it after 10) until golden brown.  Remove from oven, allow to cool slightly, and serve over a salad the size of your face.

*Nota Baker: I don’t bother to press extra-firm tofu because the brand I buy (Twin Oaks, which I think is generally available at Whole Foods in Virginia – I know KERF buys it in Charlottesville – but may not be accessible elsewhere) just doesn’t seem to need pressing.  With some brands, pressing does really improve the texture.  So if your typical practice is to press your tofu, go right ahead and don’t let me stop you.

Source: Adapted from Giada de Laurentiis

Tofu Curry with Soba Noodles

One of the best things about being a vegetarian, for me, is how easy dinner is these days – and often, how fast.  Of course, I’m not saying you have to be a vegetarian to make fast meals.  Rachael Ray would have my head on a platter (roasted up in under 30 minutes!) if I tried to claim that.  And perhaps it wouldn’t make any difference to a more organized, less forgetful person.  But for me, as an omnivore, I can’t count how many times I forgot to defrost the chicken or salmon for dinner, only to come home and stare at a pantry that was jammed full but lacking in concrete dinner ideas for me.  Being vegetarian has removed defrosting from the equation.  Tofu and tempeh don’t need to be frozen – they can chill in my fridge (pardon the pun) until I’m ready for them.  And if I’m not in a soy mood, there are always canned beans in my pantry.  These days, even if I come home and I’m not feeling whatever was on my meal plan, I know dinner is not far away and I have ample options at my fingertips.

This one-pot meal is a perfect example of that.  I had planned on coconut milk-braised tofu with soybeans over brown rice for dinner.  Well, I got home after a hectic Monday and I had the same problem that I often have when rice is on the menu – I was hungry now, not 45 minutes from now.  I also wasn’t really in the mood for soybeans, although tofu still sounded good.  Two quick swaps – soba for rice and peas for soybeans – and I was in business.  Dinner was on the table 20 minutes later and hubby and I were two happy people.  More importantly, perhaps, we were two people who didn’t eat six servings of cheese because dinner was an hour away.  I really can’t complain about that.

Tofu Curry with Soba Noodles

1 block extra-firm tofu, cubed
1 can light coconut milk
1/2 bag frozen peas
1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes in juice
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon sweet curry powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 handful soba noodles

  • In a large cast-iron pot, heat coconut milk over medium-high heat.  Stir in tofu, peas, tomatoes and seasonings and allow mixture to come to a boil.
  • Break soba noodles in half and stir into curry.  Allow entire dish to cook together for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.  (Don’t ignore it, or it will stick to the bottom of the pan!  Don’t be like me!)
  • Serve in small bowls.

Source: Adapted from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, by Mark Bittman

Nota Baker: You can totally omit the soba noodles here if you are going for something less pan-Asian and more traditional Indian.  This curry would be delicious served over brown or basmati rice.  However, the soba noodles are much faster than rice and they make it a one-pot meal.  Good stuff on a weekday, in my opinion!