Sunday, September 20, 2009

Experimentation Sunday: Hawaiian Pesto and Tofu

I've gained a little confidence in my ability to cook tofu, now, after I've learned the secret of freezing it. For this recipe, I froze and thawed a block of firm tofu, sliced it into thirds, and marinated it all afternoon. I got the recipe from a cookbook Alex gave me for Christmas from one of our favorite restaurants, Horizons, an all-vegan foodie restaurant in Philadelphia. They have two cookbooks with recipes from their restaurant and other tasty, flavorful vegan dishes.

Honestly, when I was first presented with the cookbook I was a little disappointed. First of all, I didn't like the implication of being asked to cook. On top of that, the recipes are really difficult and include ingredients I don't normally have on hand and are sometimes difficult to find. To cook from this book, I've purchased agave syrup, tamari soy sauce, coconut milk, and all kinds of spices. At first this seemed like a major hurdle, but now it's just part of my pantry. I've even made a jar of the Latin spice blend that's in several recipes.

In the cookbook, this recipe is Oven-Roasted Tofu with Hawaiian Pesto. I used a grill pan to grill the tofu. Alex wanted to be sure that I wrote that there were no leftovers to this meal! We ate the tofu and pesto with skillet fried potatoes and steamed broccoli. The only thing I'll do differently in the future is to use less salt in the spice blend; the marinade was almost like a rub and it was very, very salty.

Marinade Ingredients:
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons tamari soy sauce
3 tablespoons Latin spice blend (3 parts paprika; 2 parts: cumin, onion, garlic, salt, black pepper, and chili powder or dried chile; 1 part: thyme and oregano)
1/4 cup canola oil

I mixed this in the same zipper bag that I used to freeze and thaw the tofu. The book recommends at least and hour, if not overnight, for the marinade. I think mine was in this for about 4-5 hours.

Grill the tofu for 4 minutes per side.

Pesto Ingredients:
1/4 cup canola oil
2 cups fresh basil leaves, loosely packed
1/3 cup macadamia nuts
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons fresh ginger
1/4 cup water

Puree all ingredients in a food processor. Use additional nuts for garnish. I really found the chopped nut texture pleasant with the pesto and tofu.

This recipe would certainly have been difficult nine months ago when I didn't know how to cook tofu and didn't have many of these ingredients on hand. However, I am growing my own basil and have many of these ingredients from previous recipes. I still had ginger in the fridge from my Thai soup -- just in time for its three-month holdover. I still had cilantro from my Mango Couscous. In a way, it's nice to re-use these ingredients in new a flavor combination, even if I only spent $.43 on the ginger.

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