Welcome back, Americans! Hope you had a great July 4th weekend. And hello again, rest of the world! 🙂
As promised last time, today I’m going to share the main course that the HH and I enjoyed a few nights ago. Because I know that many of you are only today back at work, and perhaps even more of you are still recovering from a long weekend filled with carousing and celebrating and much imbibing, I’ll keep it short and sweet and won’t burden you with my typical 1500 word blog post (I’m just trying to be considerate of your recovering brain cells, truly).
I made this dish on Saturday evening, in honor of Canada Day (well, I can’t eat maple syrup or butter tarts and I can’t drink beer and I was too lazy to make this tortiere. . . and we grow soybeans in Canada, don’t we? And the HH and I are both Canadian, aren’t we? And we ate it during the Canada Day weekend, didn’t we? Okay, so that was the best I could do).
When the HH heard I was making tofu “cutlets,” he demurred rather quickly. “I’ll make myself some real food–steak!” was his reaction. But then he checked the freezer and found there were no steaks to be had. What ensued was a conversation we have fairly regularly in the house:
HH (rummaging in freezer): Hey, we’re out of steak [or “coffee” or “bread,” or whatever]!
Ricki (not looking up from her cookbook): Really? Was it on the list?
HH (a slight whine in his voice): List?! We should just have it in the house! You should just buy it.
Ricki (as if speaking to a small child): I don’t keep track of your meat [or coffee, or bread, or whatever]. I don’t eat it and I don’t cook it. So it’s really up to you to let me know when you need more. If you want, you can run out right now and get some. I’ll hold off cooking the tofu [or kale salad, or beans, or whatever] until you get back.
HH (frowning): Naw, forget it. I’ll just eat what you’re having.
And so, dear readers, that is how the HH’s extreme indolence afforded me the opportunity to sneak some healthier food into his diet.
I found the recipe in an old issue of Vegetarian Times, in an article about non-meat cutlets. Nestled beside “Braised Seitan Cutlets in Mushroom and Red Wine Sauce” and “Tempeh Cutlets Provençal” was a recipe for “Tofu Cutlets with Cilantro Pesto.” Apart from the marinating time (which was overnight), this recipe was incredibly easy to make. While the original called for baking the tofu, I decided to cook it only partially in the oven before grilling for the final few minutes of cooking time. The cutlets were incredibly flavorful on their own, with a slightly caramelized, slightly crispy exterior and a deep Asian sensibility. After sampling the pesto, I worried that it would be too sour (from the rice vinegar), but after tasting it atop the tofu, I was smitten with the combination of the two together. So was the HH, as it turned out.
“How is it?” I asked, tentatively.
“Not too bad,” he replied, a slight pout still on his face. He speared another bite-sized piece. “Actually, it’s very good. The pesto really makes it,” he said, beginning to brighten.
I continued to savor my own (very delicious) cutlet, glancing occasionally across at the HH as he scooped up raw kale salad and tofu. In no time, his plate was clean, and he was smiling.
“That was great!” he beamed, setting his fork and knife down on the empty plate. “You should definitely make this again!”
A pretty great Canada Day present, wouldn’t you say?
Glazed Tofu Cutlets with Cilantro-Ginger Pesto (suitable for the ACD, all stages)*
Adapted from Vegetarian Times, January 2009
I’m always looking for novel ways with tofu that are both quick and simple. Although the cutlets have to be marinated overnight, once cooked, they’re a perfect main dish, sandwich filling, or takealong lunch. I loved the cutlets on their own, but combined with the pesto, the resulting gustatory synergy elevates both to a level greater than either one on its own.
For the cutlets:
1 16-oz (454 g) package firm or extra-firm tofu, drained
1/4 cup (60 ml) vegetable stock or broth
1/4 cup (60 ml) Bragg’s aminos, wheat-free tamari, or soy sauce
2 Tbsp (30 ml) rice vinegar (use apple cider for ACD Stage 1),divided
1 Tbsp (15 ml) agave nectar (use 10 drops stevia for ACD Stage 1)
1 Tbsp plus 1 tsp (20 ml) toasted sesame oil, divided
For the pesto:
1 cup (240 ml) cilantro leaves, lightly packed
2 tsp (10 ml) freshly grated ginger
3 Tbsp (45 ml) lightly toasted cashews
1/8 tsp (1 ml) fine sea salt
Make the tofu: the night before you wish to serve it, wrap the block of tofu in a clean kitchen towel, or place between a few layers of clean folded paper towels. Place the tofu (still in or beteen the towels) on a plate; cover with another plate. Place something heavy on the top plate (I used two large cans of tomatoes) and leave the tofu to press for at least 2 hours. Unwrap the tofu and cut widthwise (parallel to the shorter ends) into 8 equal slices.
Meanwhile, prepare the marinade: Whisk together the broth, Bragg’s, 1 Tbsp (15 ml) vinegar, agave and 1 Tbsp (15 ml) sesame oil in a small casserole or 8 x8 inch (20 cm) square pan. Once the tofu is sliced, place it in a single layer in the marinade; turn the slices once or twice to coat. Cover and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight, turning pieces at least once while marinating.
Preheat oven to 375F (190C). Line a cookie sheet with parchment, or spray with nonstick spray.
Remove the tofu from the marinade and place in a single layer on the cookie sheet. Brush the tops with some of the excess marinade. Bake for 20 minutes, until the cutlets begin to brown. Turn them over, brush the tops once again, and bake another 20 minutes, brushing the tops occasionally with any excess marinade. A few minutes before they’re fully browned, you may remove them from the oven and grill quickly on a grilltop to achieve the classic crosshatch, but this isn’t necessary; if you don’t grill the cutlets, continue to bake until the tops are browned and edges are just becoming crispy.
While the tofu bakes, make the pesto: In a food processor (I used my MiniPrep for this), pulse the cilantro leaves, ginger and cashews until finely minced. Scrape down the sides and add the remaining 1 Tbsp (15 ml) vinegar, 1 tsp (5 ml) sesame oil, and salt. Continue to blend until a smooth (if necessary, add a teaspoon or two/5-10 ml of water, taking care not to add too much!).
To serve, place two cutlets on a plate and top with about 1 Tbsp (15 ml) of the pesto. Makes 4 servings. Will keep, covered in the refrigerator, up to 4 days.
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