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“Um, Mum, we are coming with you, aren’t we? Because (and sorry to have to tell you this), we actually have more fans than you do on this blog.” 

 

[I’ve decided to offer a mini-post every once in a while, for a dish that comes together incredibly quickly, or else is so easy to make that no recipe is required.  Here’s today’s “Flash in the Pan.”]

[Non-salsa version]

Oooh. . . I’m feeling the crunch.  I wish I could say that’s the “crunch” of a lovely rice crisp-filled chocolate bar or the crunch of ice in a gin and tonic as I lounge by a pool, or even the crunch of my feet as they traverse a lovely woodsy trail with The Girls, but no; the crunch I am experiencing is the crunch of marking as the semester nears its end.  And now that we’ve reached this critical juncture in the term, I’m afraid I won’t be able to post as often as I’d like, at least for a couple of weeks.

I did discover that I’ve got quite a few photos from previous cooking adventures, however, patiently waiting for posts, so I’ll try to clear out some old files over the next while as I simultaneously clear out that pile of marking.

First up is a recipe I remembered while reading Katy’s post yesterday, about her first-ever tofu scramble. I realized I’ve got no fewer than 4 potential posts about various tofu dishes, as the quintessential bean is a regular in our household and I’m always trying out different recipes in a quest for variety and novelty. I’ll start you off with this super-easy Flash in the Pan recipe before moving on to other favorite scrambles in the next week or two.

Like so many of you, I am a big fan of Veganomicon.  One recipe in particular calls to me over and over, sort of like Casablanca or It’s A Wonderful Life:  no matter how many times I sample Isa and Terry’s Caesar salad, I’m always excited to see it again. In fact, I do believe I’ve never tasted a Caesar dressing quite as good as that one, vegan or otherwise. (“We’re pretty fond of it, too, Mum.  We just love that high-protein, high-fat combination of tofu and ground almonds!”)

Just a wee problem:  every time the HH and I whip up a batch of that dressing for our romaine lettuce, we end up with enough silky, garlicy coating for 10-12 servings.  But we are only two.  And yes, I eat Caesar for four days in a row–but still end up with half the dressing in a jar in the fridge.  So, what to do with the leftovers?

Last weekend, I had a little epiphany:  why not COOK IT??  Yes, my friends, I heated up a Caesar salad dressing.  And not only that; I also mixed it with salsa and crumbled tofu.  Yep, life sure is wacky in the DDD household!  (“You said it, Mum! But does this mean we get to lick dressing off your fingers now?”)

And you know what?  It was fantastic!  The combination of slightly spicy (I used a medium-hot salsa), creamy and pungent was to-die-for.  The raw garlic in the dressing is cooked a bit, thereby mitigating the usual bite when that particular bulb is eaten raw.  The dressing-salsa mixture was the perfect consistency–thick enough to smother and cling to the chunks of tofu, yet soft enough to remain a bit saucy. (And we’re all for saucy here at DDD).

The second time I tried it, we were actually all out of salsa, so I just used a chopped onion sautéed in a tad of olive oil, a (large) chopped tomato and a few sprinkles of tabasco, for a very similar effect.  I think I’m addicted to this stuff now (or, at least, for the next couple of weeks, before I move on to something else. . . not only wacky, but fickle, too. I guess that’s just what life is like during crunch time.).

Mex-Ital Tofu Scramble

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

[Salsa version]

If you’re in a hurry and happen to have leftover Caesar dressing in the fridge, this is a great scramble for breakfast or lunch.  People are particular about the tofu they use for scrambles–I like really firm, solid chunks, but if you prefer the water-packed kind, go for it.  This is lovely on a piece of spelt pita.

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

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Mediterranean Tofu Scramble

November 29, 2007

DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS HAS MOVED! PLEASE VISIT THE NEW SITE BY CLICKING HERE.

I have to admit, it took me a long time to warm up to tofu. 

When I first revamped my diet in accordance with the NAG principles, I had never eaten tofu, let alone familiarized myself with the many varieties in which it’s available.  My naturopath touted the truism you hear so often:  “It’s basically flavorless on its own, so it absorbs the flavor of whatever you cook it with. ” Great!, I thought, I’ll make some tofu tonight! , and went out and bought some. 

Back then, I didn’t know about the importance of buying organic tofu, or which type to buy, so I just got any old extra-firm.  Went home, and created some kind of pseudo-stew (the ingredients of which elude me now) and tasted it.  Bah!  Feh!  Ptewie!  I couldn’t even eat one full mouthful.

No taste, you say?  Absorbs the flavors of whatever it’s with?  Uh, sorry, no.  Tofu tastes exactly like what it is: cooked, compressed soybeans.  Ugh.

It took me several months of experimentation, some great cookbooks, and a dogged determination to finally hit upon a few recipes I could actually eat and enjoy.  Over the years, tofu has become one of my very favorite foods, a staple in our home, despite the many controversies swirling round it.

The trick, I’ve found, is to use assertive flavors that can complement and conceal it.  Pressing the tofu helps considerably, as that causes the water to exude, thereby leaving little gaps for the sauce to sneak its way in and become absorbed.  Baking firm or extra-firm tofu in a hearty sauce is useful, too.  (Now, desserts are a whole other matter, and they most often require aseptically-packaged silken tofu.  But depending on the dessert, you can choose anything from Soft-Silken to Extra-Firm Silken. Occasionally, cheesecakes are good with Chinese-style, water-packed firm tofu. Some souffle-type desserts are best made with medium tofu.  Okay, got all that? Quiz to follow).

I’ve said this before, and it truly bears repeating: I’m a very lazy cook.  Not the best trait for someone whose dietary restrictions require that everything be made from scratch.  Consequently, I try to find shortcuts where I can.  Use the food processor instead of the hand grater; make up huge batches and freeze for later re-heating; or, as in the case of this morning’s breakfast, recyle up leftovers whenever possible.

simplegreens.jpg

[Yesterday’s Simple Sauteed Greens] 

I enjoyed some simple sauteed greens for dinner last evening (yes, that’s all I even wanted, after a mid-afternoon chocolate frenzy), and so had a container of pre-sauteed broccoli rabe hanging out in the fridge.  The saute was super-easy:  sliced garlic, olive oil, chopped rabe.  That’s it.  I also noticed some leftover canned crushed tomatoes being stored in a glass jar.  I’d been hankering after a tofu scramble for several days, so thought this would be a great opportunity to whip one up (no matter that the house is still not unpacked, and I’m hosting what will probably be my last-ever at home cooking class tomorrow evening–none of which is prepared yet).

Tofu is a wonderful scrambled egg substitute, I find, especially when it’s crumbled (as here) rather than cubed.  This dish provides complete protein courtesy of the tofu, high-protein pine nuts, and the greens.  You’ll also be acquiring a surfeit of minerals here, due to the many trace minerals in the greens and the high iron in the raisins. Garlic and tomato round out the dish for antioxidant benefits–and the many anti-bacterial, anti-viral qualities of the garlic are a true boon this time of year (at least, for those of us enduring a cold, wet winter, such as we get in Ontario). 

You’ll find this dish is still quite saucy, so decrease the tomatoes if desired.  The combination of herbs works wonderfully with the pine nuts and raisins, the sweetness of which act as a perfect counterpoint to the bitter greens and slightly acrid tomato.  If you find broccoli rabe too bitter, I think chopped chard would be excellent here, too.

As I said, I ate this for breakfast, but it seems to me most people would find it suitable as a dinner dish or even a side dish.

mediterraneanscramble.jpg

Mediterranean Tofu Scramble

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.