Nose-to-Tail Broccoli and Tofu

IMG_6897 (2)The star of my Potter Hill share this week was a beautiful head of broccoli with the stem and leaves attached. This crown jewel is actually three vegetables in one – slightly vegetal leaves, the crunchy stems, and the meaty florets. All three parts get worked into this recipe along with a rich sauce made with just three ingredients – soy sauce, molasses, and black pepper. Frying tofu does take a bit of time, but it makes for a delightfully crispy addition to this dish. I adapted this recipe from one in Dinner by Melissa Clark, which I’ve mentioned before and still turn to regularly for interesting, easy, and vegetable forward dinners.

My full share was a bunch of fresh onions and their greens, Red Russian kale, cabbage, a bag of lettuce, beets, a whole head of broccoli (leaves attached), cucumbers, summer squash, and basil. I used kale and some cabbage to make a caesar salad, and the broccoli and onions went into the tofu dish below. I used the summer squash and basil to riff off this pasta with fried zucchini, replacing the pasta and mozzarella with tortellini, and adding in some arugula. Lettuce, some cabbage, a cucumber, and some pickled turnips from a few weeks ago went into this salad, which was excellent ( I especially loved the preserved lemon). I haven’t gotten to my beets yet, but my favorite way to eat them is shredded and raw like in this salad or this amazing sandwich with sweet potatoes and feta.

Nose-to-Tail Broccoli and Tofu 

Serves 6

Adapted from Dinner: Changing the Game by Melissa Clark

If you don’t have fresh onions with the greens attached, use the same amount of sliced shallots in place of the bulb and scallions in place of the greens. I wrote this recipe to utilize all parts of the broccoli in our CSA share, but you could substitute another hearty green like bok choy, yokatta na, perpetual spinach, collards, or kale for the leaves. If you’re not into tofu, you could sub chicken, pork, or beef cut into 1 inch chunks, but leave out the cornstarch.

  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • 1 package (14 to 16 ounces) firm tofu, drained, patted dry, and cut into 1 inch cubes
  • ¼ cornstarch
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 small fresh onions and their tops, bulbs halved and thinly sliced (about 1½ cups/5 ounces) and green tops thinly sliced (about 1 packed cup/1½ ounces) (see note)
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons grated ginger
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 small head of broccoli head with stem and leaves still attached (see note)
  • 6 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 4 tablespoons molasses
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ground black pepper
  • Cooked brown rice, for serving (I cook ¼ cup per serving, so a total of 1½ cups)

In a large wok or skillet heat the oil over medium-high. Toss the cubed tofu with the cornstarch until it is well coated, then fry in the hot oil until it is crisp, about 10-15 minutes. Stir every 3-4 minutes so the sides brown evenly. When the tofu is crisp remove it from the pan with a slotted spoon onto a plate lined with a towel to drain.

While the tofu is cooking, prep the broccoli. Separate the leaves from the broccoli head, and then remove the stem from each leaf (these are tough and can be discarded). Thinly slice the leaves and set aside. Cut off the stalk from the broccoli crown (the leafy part of the “tree”), and using a knife or vegetable peeler remove the outer layer. To ensure you’ve removed enough, cut off a slice and try it – it should be crunchy but not tough. Quarter and slice the stalk, and cut the head into 1 inch florets (the 1 inch being the width of the top of the “tree”). 

Pour off the remaining oil from the pan, and return the to pan on medium heat. Melt the butter, then add in the sliced onion bulbs, garlic, and ginger. Cook for 5 minutes, until the onion starts to soften. Add the red pepper flakes, stir, and cook for a minute more.

While the onions are cooking, prep the sauce by whisking together the soy sauce, molasses, and freshly ground pepper in a bowl.

Add the broccoli stem and florets to the pan, stir, and cover. Cook for 5 minutes, then add in the greens, stir, and cover again. Cook for another 5 minutes, or until the greens have fully wilted. Add the sauce and tofu to the pan and toss until the vegetables and tofu are thoroughly. Serve over brown rice with extra chili flakes.

Vegan Tofu Bowls with Citrus Tahini Sauce

tofu bowl 2What should make when you need a reset after weekend eating? When you aren’t fully inspired, but have a fridge full of random vegetables? Or, when you feel like there is nothing in the fridge? When you have a bunch of diet restrictions at the dinner table? When you want to eat something incredibly satisfying and delicious?

Tofu bowls.

I’ve been making some variation of this bowl almost monthly for years. Tofu, rice, and the sauce are constants, but toppings always fluctuate depending on the season and what is in the fridge. If the ingredient list for the sauce seems long (or maybe contains nothing in your normal pantry), know that almost all the ingredients keep very well, so once you invest in them once you can make these bowls whenever the craving strikes (which will be often). The sauce is the great unifier and elevator that takes this from a bowl of health to a delightful dinner you really want to eat.

I like to use a mix of raw and cooked vegetables for textural contrast, but you can literally use whatever you fancy. Cucumbers, carrots, radishes, salad turnips, and avocado all make great options for a raw component. For cooked I’ve used many different types of greens (kale, collards, radish, turnip, chard), cabbage, Brussels sprouts, summer squashes, winter squashes, sweet potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, and eggplant. Don’t feel limited by these options, use what you’ve got. This is also a great time to utilize leftover cooked vegetables from another meal.

This is the tail end of my CSA and my final week included celeriac, sweet potatoes, radishes, parsley, scallions, and lettuce. I used the lettuce in a salad inspired by this recipe with roasted carrots, couscous, and yogurt. It is an excellent time of year to make these root vegetable bowls.  If you haven’t yet, it’s time to make the celeriac slaw from a couple weeks ago (I’d throw in the scallions too), or this excellent winter chowder. If you want to see the whole season of CSA recipes, they are under the Potter Hill tag!

Vegan Tofu Bowls with Citrus Tahini Sauce

Serves 6.

Tofu marinade and method adapted from Thug Kitchen, sauce just barely adapted from Bowl + Spoon (which is also posted here). I’ve written this to serve 6, but if you want to scale this assume ¼ cup uncooked brown rice (1 ½ cups total) and ~2.5 ounces tofu per serving.

Marinated Tofu

  • ¼ cup low sodium soy sauce
  • ¼ cup rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon garlic chili sauce (or, 1 teaspoon grated garlic and 2 teaspoons sriracha)
  • 1 14-ounce container extra firm tofu

Citrus Tahini Sauce

  • 1⁄3 cup fresh-squeezed orange, clementine, or tangerine juice (you only need a little, so go the distance)
  • ½ cup tahini
  • 2 tablespoons honey, maple syrup, or agave
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sriracha
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper

For serving:

  • Cooked brown rice or noodles (see head note)
  • Raw vegetables and herbs (for these I used 1 small bunch radishes (sliced), pickled onions, scallions, and avocado)
  • Cooked vegetables (for these I used 1 large sweet potato which I cubed and roasted with the tofu, plus the radish greens which I threw on the same pan as the sweet potato in the last 2 minutes of cooking)

Remove tofu from container and drain all liquid (don’t discard the container!!!). Wrap tofu in a clean cloth napkin or dish towel, and place on a bowl/plate. Top with another bowl/plate, and place a weight on top (such as a full can of beans). Let drain for at least 30 minutes, but longer is great.

While tofu is draining place all marinade ingredients in a bowl and whisk to combine.

Remove tofu from the napkin and slice into 1/4″ planks width-wise (you should have 10-12 planks total). Return planks to their original container, and pour marinade over them. Poke in between the slices so the marinade can mingle. Let tofu marinate for 30 minutes (flip the slices over halfway through if you can remember to).

Preheat oven to 450F. Spread out tofu slices (reserving additional marinade) and roast for 15 minutes. Flip, spoon extra marinade over each slice, and roast for 10 more minutes. Flip one more time, spoon any remaining marinade over, and roast for 5 minutes more.

Whisk all sauce ingredients to combine. Prep vegetables for serving.

Serve bowls with rice, tofu, raw and cooked vegetables, any extra marinade, tahini citrus sauce, and extra sriracha. For maximum meal flexibility let diners assemble their own bowls.

 

 

Tofu Marinating Hack

Tofu Marinating Hack - Vegetal MattersMarinating and roasting tofu has become my go-to preparation. When I first started cooking tofu I would cut it into cubes and painstakingly fry it so that each side was perfectly golden. Often I would hover too much and try to turn them before they had time to crisp and they would break apart. I didn’t own good tongs so I would try to turn them with my fingers which led to inevitable burning (sorry, Mom).

I owe my much improved method to the Thug Kitchen cookbook, which calls for tofu to be cut into thin planks, marinated, and then roasted at 450F for 30 minutes, flipping and topping with extra marinade at 15, 10, and 5 minutes. I roast mine on a silicone mat to ease cleanup, and the result is firm but slightly crispy tofu with concentrated flavor. You can serve the planks as is, or cut then into small strips (my usual preference).

The flaw in this execution is the marinating container. I don’t own a bowl that exactly fits the tofu, so the marinade only comes part way up and I have to flip the planks around to get them evenly marinated. I’ve been doing this for years. Last week I was wishing once again that I had a container exactly the size of my tofu to marinate it in, so that I could use the minimum amount of marinade to cover maximum surface area. And then it dawned on me that I have been buying my tofu in said container every single time and then throwing it in the recycle bin before struggling with inferior containers. Really, Tori? REALLY?

So I fished the little container out of the recycle bin, washed it, put my tofu planks right back inside and covered them with the marinade. Immediate, complete coverage. Hallelujah!

This method works great with cutting the block into planks because they just snug right back up against each other. It would be a bit more of a puzzle to put together if you prefer to cut into cubes, but still possible. If someday down the line I start making my own tofu I will be right back to the container drawing board, but I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it. (There is a tofu recipe in The Homemade Kitchen I’ve been eyeing, but I haven’t taken the plunge.) For now this simple solution makes a favorite cooking process even better. I’m sure this has been thought of before, but I can’t believe it hasn’t be written into every recipe that calls for tofu marination. Let’s change that!

(The tofu marinating in the photo is from the Thai chopped salad with tofu I made last week. I followed the recipe for the marinade, and then used the Thug Kitchen method for cooking.)

Last week I cooked…

20150726_195049Spicy fried chicken sandwich. We had this for dinner on Will’s actual birthday. It was the first fried chicken sandwich I’ve ever made, and I see no reason to ever seek out another recipe. The chicken was spicy, crispy and tender, and the yogurt sauce/slaw was just the right creamy, crunchy contrast. For me this was a perfect balance of spiciness, enough to feel it and warrant spicy in the name, but not so much that it kept you from actually tasting everything. I suppose if your spice tolerance is low you will want to find another recipe, but I’ll be sticking with this one.

Lentil and chickpea salad with feta and tahini. Redemption after a weekend of barbecue and fried chicken. I love the onion salad on top of the creamy legumes. Paired with the tomato salad below.

Tomato salad with pomegranate molasses (from Persiana). I added in some cucumbers and cherry peppers from my garden instead of the Turkish peppers, but loved this simple but new take on a tomato salad. The dressing is super potent, so used sparingly.

Last week I cooked - Vegetal MattersOttolenghi’s black pepper tofu. This has been on my to cook list for too long. The addition of butter is inspired (but really didn’t we all love rice with butter as kids?). The amount of pepper seems ridiculous, but the butter mellows it nicely. I halved the recipe to use a single block of tofu (which usually come in 14 oz portions on the US).

Spicy roasted bok choy. Paired with black pepper tofu. I think my red pepper flakes are especially potent, because this was super spicy, which wasn’t exactly what I was looking for to go with the pepper tofu. I mostly was excited about the ease of preparation and the fact that I didn’t also need to cook this on the stove.

Peach and corn coleslaw. #Summer. This slaw is sweet and a little sour and just the perfect summer salad. I used regular peaches, less cabbage, plus a cucumber.

Grilled eggplant and chickpea salad with pomegranate molasses. I guess pom molasses is the special ingredient of the week here. I made this for a picnic (to eat on Boston Common while seeing King Lear) and it was perfect. I roasted the eggplant since I don’t have a grill, along with green peppers and an onion,  For the picnic I also make a tomato and cucumber salad with balsamic vinegar and the zucchini cornbread again, and my friends brought couscous salad for the best summer salad compilation ever.

Blueberry pie with yogurt. If you ask me, the best way to enjoy leftover pie is for breakfast. Just take a couple big dollops of yogurt, and top with a small slice of pie and some fresh fruit if you have it. Really this is the same concept of those dessert yogurt cups, but 1,000x better.

Last week I cooked... - Vegetal Matters

Not something I cooked, but I went to Brattle Book Shop in Downtown Boston and the cookbook section was incredible. I’m embarrassed to be a born and raised Bay Stater/book store enthusiast and not have know about this place until this weekend. We walked away with Jamie Oliver’s Great Britain, Clementine in the Kitchen, and Moose Mousse.