Crispy Tofu with Spicy Sweet Garlic Sauce


I’ve had tofu so bad I wouldn’t serve it to my worst enemy and I’ve had tofu so good I wanted it all to myself and wouldn’t even share with my best friend. This recipe is the “so good you won’t want to share” kind.

The secret ingredient that makes this tofu crispy like deep fried without deep frying it is the arrowroot powder/starch/flour (all the same, just different names). It ever so slightly coats each piece of tofu and enables the pieces to crisp up and taste like you’re eating something much less good for you. The spicy sweet garlicy sauce takes things over the top.

Arrowroot isn’t difficult to find—small bottles can be found with the spices at regular grocery store and larger bags can be found in the natural foods section of well-stocked grocery stores, at natural foods stores, and online. I like Bob’s Red Mill brand. You could use corn starch if you can’t get arrowroot, but corn starch is much more processed and most likely contains genetically modified corn (boo, hiss!).

The recipe is from a cookbook I purchased after seeing the author on one of the local Saturday morning news shows. Vegan chef Tess Challis was in town to present at the Twin Cities Veg Fest, which I wanted to attend, but just couldn’t fit it into my jam-packed weekend.

One of her cookbooks is called Food Love and I looked it up online to potentially order and ended up ordering the e-version, which was only $10; I got it immediately and no trees were harmed in the process. There are a number of recipes I’d like to try and this was the first. Based on how good this was, I’m excited to make more. Enjoy!

Crispy Tofu with Spicy Sweet Garlic Sauce

Slightly adapted from a Food Love by Tess Challis recipe
1 pound extra firm tofu, organic and non-gmo, sprouted if you can find it

2 tablespoons tamari (darker, richer and less salty than soy sauce, and wheat-free)

1 teaspoon granulated garlic or garlic powder

2 tablespoons arrowroot powder/starch/flour (less processed and non-gmo compared to cornstarch)

1-2 tablespoons grapeseed or coconut oil (I used grapeseed for a more neutral flavor)

Sauce:
¼ cup sriracha sauce

¼ cup raw agave (honey [not vegan] or maple syrup would work as well)

2 tablespoons water

4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

Sliced green onions, for garnish

Cut block of tofu into quarters, and each quarter into two slices. Lay slices flat on two layers of paper towel. Cover with two more layers of paper towel and lay a cutting board on top. Set something heavy, like a cast iron pan or a big can of tomatoes on top and let sit 30 minutes; this will remove moisture from the tofu.

While tofu is pressing, mix sriracha, agave, water and minced garlic in a small bowl. Set aside.

Cut each tofu slice into quarters and place into a large zip lock bag. Mix tamari and granulated garlic in a small dish. Put arrowroot in another small dish. Pour tamari mixture over tofu, seal bag, and toss to coat. Sprinkle arrowroot starch/flour, in several batches, over tofu, and shake bag after each batch.

Heat a 10 inch cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Add 1 tablespoon grapeseed or coconut oil. When oil is hot, lay about half the tofu pieces in the pan, cook for 3 minutes, turn, and cook 3 minutes more. Remove tofu to a paper towel lined plate.

Add another tablespoon oil, if necessary, to pan and when hot, add remaining tofu and cook the same as the first batch.

Serve with garlic sriracha sauce and green onions as garnish. Makes about 4 servings.

Roasted Beet & Portabella Mushroom Pizza with Beet Greens Pesto

Roasted Beet & Portabella Mushroom Pizza with Beet Greens Pesto

Roasted Beet & Portabella Mushroom Pizza with Beet Greens Pesto

I have a new favorite pizza! Again.

Earlier this summer I discovered how great rainbow chard or beet greens and mushrooms taste when roasted and served together. With the beets in our garden finally ready, I had a huge bag ‘o beet greens to make into something delicious.

How about a pesto? Could it be that beet green pesto is really a thing? It is. And it’s really good. Skeptical at first about the chosen recipe because it was different from most pesto recipes I’ve done in the past—it didn’t include lemon juice, it called for raw rather than toasted nuts, and it had less than half the olive oil. Once made though, it had amazing flavor and I thought it’d be great on pizza. Of course I would include mushrooms for that great combo of greens and mushrooms, and why not include the beets too?

After roasting two portabella mushroom caps and a couple larger beets, I spread the beet green pesto over a homemade whole wheat pizza crust, topped it with sliced roasted beets and portabellas, and after pondering the best cheese to enhance this combo, I opted for a bit of shredded pepper jack. Not too much—just enough to add a creamy spiciness to go with the other robust flavors.

Veggies ready for roasting

Veggies ready for roasting

Prepared for this uncharted pizza territory to be a total bust, I, along with my dinner guest and fellow foodie, Dawn, were surprised to fall in love with this new pie. The earthiness of the pesto and mushrooms, sweetness of the beets and the piquant heat of the pepper jack came together in pizza perfection. Enjoy!

Oh, and by the way, the pizza dough recipe makes enough for two pizzas. You can refrigerate half the dough for a day or two, freeze it for a couple months, or just make two pizzas. My second one was a roasted cherry tomato and onion pizza that just had a brush of good quality olive oil as a sauce. It was great!

Roasted Tomato & Onion Pizza

Roasted Tomato & Onion Pizza

Roasted Beet & Portabella Mushroom Pizza with Beet Greens Pesto

This recipe sounds very time-consuming, but you can make everything ahead of time and then do the final pizza assembling and baking shortly before you’re ready to serve it.

Beet Green Pesto (from Oh My Veggies blog):
About 4 cups washed and dried beet greens, stems and thicker middle ribs removed

3 garlic cloves, chopped

1/2 cup chopped raw walnuts

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Place the beet greens, garlic, walnuts, salt, and pepper in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until finely chopped. With the motor running slowly, drizzle in the olive oil. Continue to process until smooth, adding more oil if necessary to achieve a saucy consistency (I didn’t need any additional oil). Taste and add additional salt and pepper if desired. This can be made ahead of time and refrigerated for up to 2 days before using.

Pizza dough:
1 ¼ cups warm water (between 105 and 115 degrees F.)

2 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast (one packet)

1 tablespoon honey

1 ½ cups whole wheat flour

1 ½ cups unbleached white flour, plus additional flour for kneading and rolling

2 teaspoons sea salt

Place warm water in a large bowl or bowl of a stand mixer. Sprinkle in yeast and whisk in honey. Let stand until foamy, 5-10 minutes.

In a separate bowl, mix flours and salt. Add gradually to yeast mixture, either mixing with a wooden spoon or dough hook of a stand mixer until combined. If doing by hand, turn out of bowl onto a floured surface and knead by hand for about 5 minutes, adding more flour if necessary to make a smooth, only slightly sticky dough. If using a stand mixer, knead with dough hook for about 5 minutes, adding more flour if necessary to make a smooth, only slightly sticky dough.

Place dough in an oiled bowl and cover with a damp tea towel. Allow to rise till double in size (about an hour) in a warm, draft-free place.

Place a pizza stone or upside down baking sheet in oven and preheat to 525 degrees F.

Punch down dough and turn out onto floured surface. Divide dough in half and refrigerate or freeze half for another use (or better yet, make 2 pizzas!).

On floured surface, roll/toss dough to make a 12-14 inch round (or sorta round). Place round on pizza stone and bake 90 seconds to 2 minutes. Remove from oven to cooling rack. This can be made ahead of time and wrapped in plastic for up to a day or frozen for a up to a month.

Roasted Veggies:
2 portabella mushroom caps, cleaned, stems removed and gills scraped off

2 large beets, peeled and sliced ¼ inch thick

Extra virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Toss beet slices with about 1 tablespoon olive oil and salt & pepper to taste. Place beets in a single layer on a baking sheet. Brush tops and bottoms of mushrooms with olive oil and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. Place stem side up on baking sheet next to beets. Roast for about 15 minutes, until beets are tender. You may need to remove beets from the pan and roast mushrooms for 5-10 minutes longer, until tender. Slice mushrooms into strips about ½ inch wide. Roasting can be done ahead of time.

To assemble pizza:
Beet green pesto

Roasted beets and mushrooms

1 cup shredded pepper jack cheese

½ cup shredded parmesan cheese

Place a pizza stone or upside down baking sheet in oven and preheat to 525 degrees F.

Just before baking, spread pesto onto partially baked crust (you won’t use all the pesto). Top with roasted beet and mushroom slices. Sprinkle pepper jack and parmesan evenly over pizza. Bake about 5 minutes, until cheese is melted and crust is golden. If you’d like, turn the oven to broil for about a minute or two to brown the cheese slightly. Watch the pizza closely if you do this—it can go from perfect to burned in seconds.

Remove pizza from oven onto large cutting board and cut into wedges. Serves 2-4.

Creamy Cauliflower Wild Rice Soup

 

Soup above

Yep, another soup recipe. Just can’t help myself—it is soup season after all! This recipe came about after we returned from a cabin trip to some cauliflower and potatoes that were soon to hit the far side of prime.

The trip was wonderful, with fall colors stunning on the way there. Even at the cabin, where a lot of the vibrant leaves were gone, there was color—scarlet sumac and dogwood, bright golden tamaracks, and I never realized how beautiful the leaves turn on the wild rose bushes along the shore. No matter the time of year, you can always find color to make a bouquet! And the chives were still thriving so I was able to bring home a bagful.
BouquetBouquet in vaseFire and rose bushes

Otis came along and while it was jacket weather for us, he still loved playing in the frigid waters of Lake Superior! He’s getting a little better at quieting his excitement on the drive there and back too, but he’s not quite there yet. He definitely brings a different level of fun though!

Otis in Lake Superior

Otis by cabin

Fall and winter get me craving a wild rice soup spiked with sherry, which seemed good compliments to the must-use-soon veggies. Shallots and garlic provide a flavor boost, along with creaminess from your milk of choice (buttermilk, skim, almond, cashew, evaporated—whatever floats your boat), and a comforting meal is born. Add a fall-themed salad such as this and some crusty whole-grain bread and your lunch or dinner is complete. Enjoy!

Soup side

Creamy Cauliflower Wild Rice Soup

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil or unsalted butter

½ cup sliced shallots

1 clove garlic, peeled and minced

½ head cauliflower, cut into 1” pieces

2 medium gold or red potatoes, chopped

1/2 cup dry white wine

3 cups vegetable stock

1 cup milk (buttermilk, skim, almond, cashew, evaporated—your choice)

2 cups cooked wild rice

2 tablespoons dry or medium dry sherry

Salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Chopped chives and additional wild rice, for garnish

In a stockpot, melt the butter or heat the olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the shallot and cook for several minutes. Add the garlic and cook about another minute. Stir in the cauliflower and potatoes and cook for about two minutes. Add the wine and increase heat to medium high. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the wine has pretty much cooked off. Add the vegetable stock, cover, and bring to a low boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes until potatoes and cauliflower are tender.

Using an immersion blender, purée soup until it is completely smooth (alternately, cool soup a bit and purée in a blender, in batches, and return to pot). Over low heat, stir in the milk, wild rice, sherry, and salt & pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with chopped chives and a bit of wild rice. Makes four meal-size servings or six appetizer servings.

Arrabiata Sauce with Pasta

Arrabbiata sauce and pasta
My house still smells of Italy! The aromas of garlic, olive oil, red pepper, and tomatoes floated from my kitchen as the sauce cooked and spread through every room. This Belgian-French-Irish girl actually feels Italian! And you happily will too if you make Arrabbiata sauce.

Just a few fresh ingredients come together for one of the most flavorful (and spicy) sauces in Mediterranean cooking. Roma tomatoes at the peak of freshness are easy to find at the farmers’ market, as are local garlic and flat-leaf parsley.

Roma tomatoes
Then you only need good quality extra-virgin olive oil, dried red pepper, sea salt, plus whole wheat penne (the pasta traditionally served with Arrabbiata sauce) or rotini (or use your favorite gluten-free pasta, if desired) for a dish to pair with a glass of robust red wine–a truly perfect meal (especially if you dine al fresco). And it’s so easy! Enjoy!

Garlic and red pepper

CookingJar o'sauce

Arrabiata Sauce with Pasta

2 ¼ to 2 ½ pounds ripe roma or plum tomatoes

2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

4 large or 6 smaller cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped

Dried red pepper, crushed to make 2-3 teaspoons (depending on your preferred level of heat)

1 teaspoon sea salt

Chopped fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley

1 pound whole wheat penne or rotini pasta, cooked al dente (or use your favorite gluten-free pasta)

Wash tomatoes and, using a sharp knife, score each with an X just through the skin. Blanch tomatoes in boiling water for about 30 seconds. Transfer to ice water to stop the cooking for about 30 seconds. Drain and peel the tomatoes from where the skin curls back at the X. Set aside.

Heat olive oil in a large sauce pan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add garlic and red pepper. Cook for several minutes, stirring occasionally. Add tomatoes and salt. Cook over medium heat for about 20-25 minutes, breaking up tomatoes as they cook and the sauce reduces. For a chunky sauce, crush the tomatoes with a spoon or potato masher. If you’d like a smoother sauce, remove from heat and process with an immersion blender until smooth.

Serve in bowls over al dente pasta. Sprinkle with chopped Italian parsley. Makes about six main dish servings. Cin cin!

 

 

Portabella Piccata

Piccata Plated2
Last week my online newspaper skimming led me to a recipe I couldn’t get out of my mind, even though it wasn’t vegetarian. This happens frequently–a dish makes my mouth water while my brain goes into conversion mode, mulling over ways to make it meatless. Such was the case with this recipe from the fabulous Sarah and Tony Nasello of Sarello’s Restaurant in Moorhead, MN.

At first I was thinking of using mock duck in place of the pork. Then I thought maybe tofu, but ultimately settled on the meaty portabella. I made the right choice. Both Pete and I declared this absolutely delicious and definitely blog-worthy. Because we were starving, I served it over whole-wheat spaghetti, but for a lighter dish, you could top cooked greens such as kale with this tasty concoction. And I bet it would be great over baked or mashed potatoes too. Enjoy!
PortabellasPiccata

Portabella Piccata


4 portabella mushrooms, stems removed and gills scraped off with a spoon
Half to ¾ cup unbleached all-purpose flour (or your favorite gluten-free flour), seasoned with salt and pepper
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
4 tablespoons butter or non-hydrogenated margarine (like Earth Balance), divided
1/4 cup minced shallot
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup vegetable stock
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons capers, drained
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Chopped flat-leaf parsley

If your mushrooms are thick, slice them horizontally to create thinner mushroom slices. Place seasoned flour in a large zip-lock bag. Sprinkle half of the mushrooms with a little bit of water and put them in the zip-lock bag, seal, and shake until mushrooms are coated with flour.

Heat one tablespoon oil and one tablespoon butter or margarine in a cast iron or sauté pan over medium-high heat. When hot, add dredged mushrooms. Cook three minutes, then turn with tongs and cook three more minutes. Remove to a plate and repeat process with remaining mushrooms.

After the second batch of mushrooms is out of the pan, reduce heat to medium and add another tablespoon of olive oil and of butter. When hot, add garlic and shallots and cook about 30 seconds, scraping the bottom of the pan to loosen those yummy brown bits left by the mushrooms. Carefully pour in stock, wine, lemon juice, and sugar. Whisk to combine. Bring to a simmer and cook until it’s reduced by about half. If the sauce doesn’t thicken up enough, sprinkle a little of the leftover flour mixture over sauce and whisk to combine. When sauce is thick, return cooked mushrooms to the pan and reduce heat to low. Add the capers and last tablespoon of butter, stirring until the butter melts and is mixed in. Taste and season with salt & pepper.

Serve over whole wheat pasta, cooked greens (like kale or spinach), or potatoes, either baked or mashed, or whatever strikes your fancy. Sprinkle with parsley. Serves 2-4.
Piccata Plated