Recipe For Health
by Chef Kurt Kwiatkowski
Featured Food: Tofu Yield: Serves 8Learn more about Tofu

Ingredients

  • Romesco Sauce
  • 2 T. tomato puree
  • 1 can (3.25 ounces) roasted red peppers, drained
  • 1 T. + 1 ½ t. olive oil
  • 1 t. Kosher salt
  • 1 t. minced garlic
  • 3 T. water
  • 1 T. sherry vinegar
  • ¼ c. sliced almonds, roasted
  • ¼ c. whole wheat bread crumbs, lightly toasted
  • 1 t. ground cumin
  • ½ t. crushed red pepper
  • 1 t. sweet Spanish paprika
  • Char-grilled Tofu
  • 2 lb. extra firm tofu, drained
  • Oil for Grill
  • 2 T. chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
  • 2 T. crumbled goat cheese, optional (omit for vegan preparation)

Preparation

Place tomato puree, red peppers, olive oil, salt, garlic, water and vinegar in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.

Add the almonds, bread crumbs, cumin, crushed red pepper and paprika and blend again until smooth.

Cut tofu into eight triangular pieces by cutting each one-pound block in half diagonally, then slicing each piece in half through the thickness. Place on a baking sheet. Brush with romesco sauce. Let sit for at least 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Heat a lightly-oiled ridged grill or grill pan over moderately high heat until hot, but not smoking.

Place tofu pieces on grill and cook until grill marks appear, for two or three minutes. Turn carefully and continue cooking for another two or three minutes.

Place grilled tofu pieces in a single layer in an oven-safe dish. Top each with a spoonful of romesco sauce. Bake for eight minutes or until sauce is hot and bubbly.

Remove from oven.

Serve garnished with parsley. Sprinkle with goat cheese if desired.

Learn More About Tofu

When Friar Domingo Navarrete discovered tofu in 17th century China, he called it “the most usual, common, and cheap sort of food” eaten by all from “the Emperor and great men” to “the common sort as necessary sustenance.” First produced around the beginning of the Common Era, tofu was a daily food in China for hundreds of years by the time Navarrete arrived on the scene. 

Still not a daily food for most people in the United States, tofu is making a move to the mainstream. The wide array of tofu products available in the supermarket is testament to its increasing popularity. The velvety white cakes are sold in rectangular blocks packed in water and sealed in plastic containers. Many forms are found in Asian markets. These are the most common kinds:

 Silken—aka soft or silk or Japanese-style. Flawlessly smooth and tender, silken tofu is best used in salad dressings, sauces and desserts.

 Regular—aka firm or Chinese-style. Dense and somewhat course-looking, regular tofu retains its shape when cooked.

To be successful with tofu, follow these simple techniques:

Draining or Pressing

Rid your tofu of water to allow flavors to penetrate by blotting the surface with paper towels. If you plan to fry it, cut the tofu block into slabs, place the slabs on several layers of paper towel, cover with more paper towels and a cutting board with a weight on top. Let sit for 15 minutes.

Firming or Precooking

Heat firms up the protein in tofu to help it hold together and to give it a chewy texture. Fry in oil or cook in simmering water for about 5 minutes.

Marinating

Only the outside of the tofu is really affected by this process, but it does add a punch to an otherwise flavorless food. Cover the drained tofu with marinade and refrigerate for an hour or more. Then sauté, grill, broil or bake. 

Freezing 

Few foods are usefully altered by freezing. Tofu releases even more liquid when frozen and thawed. The result is a “sponge” ready to take on flavor with a texture that is chewier and meatier.

Experiment a little to discover tofu’s value for you.

Peggy Crum MA, RD

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