Tuesday, October 27, 2009
While we were browsing the aisles at our local Trader Joe's this past Sunday, Jen excitedly suggested we pick up some tofu. I haven't actually made tofu in months, but we were eating it pretty frequently for a while there, and just kind of fell out of the habit. Jen tried tofu for the first time a little over a year ago at Thai Blue Ginger in Greenfield, Massachusetts, near Northampton, where we were living at the time. To her surprise (and mine!), she instantly became of fan of tofu after trying their vegetarian Pad Thai. Since then, we've eaten tofu at restaurants a little, but mostly at home--we've especially enjoyed tofu lettuce wraps and spring rolls, and we've found that the extra-firm is our preferred variety.
When I did a little research on tofu dishes online later that afternoon, I was disappointed to find that such a large majority of tofu dishes were Asian in nature. Don't get me wrong, I love tofu in Chinese ma po tofu, in Korean banchan, in Japanese inari, and so on, but tofu is such a versatile ingredient that its presence in online recipes being limited to only Asian cuisines (for the most part) is disappointing. Even the search results on Epicurious with an American cuisine filter on took me to a page of predominantly--if not entirely--Asian results. The great thing about tofu, though, is that it has a very simple texture, which varies depending on how you prepare it (my preference is a firmness throughout with a slightly crispier outside). Even better, tofu acts as a flavor sponge that soaks up whatever you cook it in or with. With all of this in mind, I thought it would be interesting to challenge myself to test this theory, to see if tofu really has a place in a cuisine that you usually don't hear about it showing up in. And just to make things more difficult, I decided that I wanted to try and pair tofu with cheese somehow--a combination that I've rarely seen but has always seemed very unappealing to me in the past, an association I was determind to break free of, because there's no real reason to think of tofu as ill-paired with cheese. Perhaps it's just tofu's frequent appearances in Asian cuisine that gave me that impression, given how rarely you see cheese in Chinese food or other Asian cuisines.
The dish I came up with is tofu bruschetta: extra-firm tofu griddled in a little olive oil, atop bruschetta. Without further ado, let's take a look at the dish.
You'll want just a basic baguette from your grocery store for this recipe. No trans fat, no cholesterol. Works for me!
Preheat your griddle to 350 degrees, and coat it lightly with a thin sheen of EVOO.
You'll need about 1/2 block of extra-firm tofu for this recipe. You could also use one small package if you have one of those cool two-packs of tofu, as we did. When you open the package of tofu, drain the water and then transfer tofu to a cutting board. Take a paper towel and gently squeeze out as much excess water as possible from the tofu.
Next, slice up the tofu into about 1/4-inch thick squares. Feel free to take a break and play a rousing round of dominoes with these bean curd quadrangles.
Afterward, take another paper towel and repeat the above process until your tofu squares are rid of their watery baggage.
Pop your tofu slices on the griddle. They'll take 5-7 minutes or so on each side. Cook them until slightly crispy and most golden of browns on each side.
While your tofu's cooking up, slice up ten slices of baguette. Slice, slice, slice. I know other words, I promise.
Grate a little under half a cup of Parmesan.
It's been a little over five minutes, right? Let's check the tofu. Looks good, so we'll flip it. T-minus five minutes to deliciousness! T as in tofu, of course.
Preheat your broiler, then brush your baguette pieces with a little EVOO. Top with the grated parmesan, and pop it in the broiler during the last minute of tofu cooking.
Grab a couple of Roma tomatoes in the meantime. You know what they say: when in Roma. (Oh, that one was really cringe-y.)
Cut each tomato into about 5-6 thin pieces.
Take your baguettes out of the broiler after about a minute.
Divide them onto two plates.
Remove your tofu to a plate, too, and be sure to blot any excess grease (there should be very little). Cut each square of tofu along the diagonal to create tofu triangles.
Coarsely chop some fresh basil and sprinkle it over your baguette wedges.
Top with your Romatoes.
Top with your tofu triangles, and enjoy!
Thanks for stopping by Beach City Cooking, and I'll see you all tomorrow for another post. Have a great night, and stay cool!