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Tofu sofrito

Sofrito is a complex but varied intersection between cooking method, ingredients, and finished dishes with many regional variations uses. My book, for example, has a version with green pepper, green apple and portobello mushrooms. Shown here with a smoky cashew spread
and fresh mixed baby greens wrapped in warm, fresh, hand rolled, whole wheat tortilla. It also goes well with brown rice, salsa and greens. Once you make it, you’ll find plenty of uses for it.

Ingredients

1 pound extra firm, high quality tofu, shredded (I use a box grater, larger holes)
1/2t coarse sea salt
1/4 cup cooking oil
2T garlic
1 medium red onion, finely chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
1T heaping smoked paprika
2t dried, ground cumin
2t dried oregano, rubbed
1T lemon juice
2 cups vegetable stock
1 ‘sprig’ dried kombu (about 1″)
2T sun-dried tomatoes, minced (the dehydrated kind, not jarred)
1T white vinegar
2t black strap molasses
1-2T minced chipotle (the dehydrated kind, not in adobo)
1 large red pepper (about 1 cup)
1 large poblano pepper (about 1 cup)
1 cup passata (or tomato puree)
Red or black pepper and coarse sea salt to taste

Optional: You can replace chipotle with habanero (I often do). I also often replace the passata with salsa, the cumin with garam masala and/or the oregano with herbes de Provence. Spanish onions are more traditional than red. Cilantro, white wine and green peppers are also common variations.

Directions

Start with the peppers, then the tofu. Press your tofu ahead of time if it needs it. Preheat the oven to 450F. Lightly oil the peppers and roast until their skin is lightly charred (or use the gas stove method if you have a gas stove). Expect about 20 minutes, give or take.

It’s likely the poblano will finish more quickly than the red pepper. Remove them from heat separately if necessary. When done, let the peppers stand 10 minutes to cool. Skin, core, seed and dice. Puree the peppers (including the chipotle) until smooth.

When the peppers are ready, bring the oil to heat in a large frying pan with the sea salt. Add the onion and saute for 3-5 minutes. Add the dry spices and the garlic and saute for another 1-2 minutes. The spices should be quite fragrant.

Add the tofu and saute until lightly browned (expect another 7 – 10 minutes). Stir carefully so as to not break up the tofu too much. Add the lemon juice and deglaze the pan. Remove from heat and add to a slow cooker. Add the remaining ingredients and slow cook for about 5 hours on high or 8 hours on low (although adjust for your
slow cooker — you know it better than I do).

Once the liquid has reduced to about 2 cups, preheat the oven to 200F. Remove the kombu and transfer the tofu to a roasting pan or baking sheet with sides and roast for about 2 hours, stirring periodically to ensure even browning and drying.

Once most of the liquid has been reduced and the pan is beginning to dry, increase the heat to 450F and roast for about 10 – 20 minutes to finish. The tofu should be chewy, but juicy, and an even reddish brown. Season to taste with additional pepper and salt.

Note: You can reduce cooking time by skipping the slow cook and slow roast in favor of just a slow roast. In that case, roast for about 4 hours at 200F and then increase heat, but expect to stir periodically the whole time. Your texture may not be quite as even and the flavour will not be quite as balanced. You may also want to wear gloves
when working with the chipotle or other hot peppers.

Miso soup with tofu, shiitake mushrooms and kale

Simple and nourishing, this makes 4 small bowls or 2 large ones.

Ingredients

1T water
2 scallions, minced about 4″ green reserved for garnish
1 cup shiitake mushroom caps, stemmed and sliced 1/4″
250g tofu, 1/4″ cubes
1T tamari
1T lemon juice
4 cups water
1 ‘spring’ dried kombu, about 1″
2-3T red miso (use low sodium if you can find it)
1 cup green kale, stemmed and coarsely chopped
Coarse sea salt to taste
1/2 cup purple carrots, matchsticked

Optional: 1/2t toasted sesame oil add some additional flavour to this dish, and a teaspoon of white sesame seeds will add colour, flavour and nutrition. I often add nori flakes to mine as a garnish as well. White and yellow miso often have a milder flavor than red. Regular orange carrots are also fine for this dish and add a lovely colour contrast.

Method

Bring a medium pan to heat on medium high heat. Add the scallions and water and stir fry for 1 minute. Add the shiitake and tofu stir fry for 2 minutes.
Add the tamari and lemon and deglaze the pan. Stir fry for another 2 minutes or until most of the moisture has been absorbed, the tofu is lightly browning, and the pan is starting to dry again.

Add water and kombu. Bring to a gentle simmer and simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat, remove the kombu, add the miso and stir to combine. If you’re new to miso, add 2T to start and add more to taste. Add the kale and stir to combine.

Let stand a minute to wilt the kale lightly. Season to taste. Ladle out. Garnish with scallion greens sliced on an angle and the matchsticked carrots, and serve.

Note, miso ‘tea’ also makes a light, simple snack or breakfast. Bring a cup or so of water to a boil, pour over a 2-3 teaspoons of miso in a mug, and stir until dissolved.

Tofu, mushroom, and sea vegetable stew with potatoes and poblano pepper

This is a simple, comforting and nutritious stew with a number of rich flavours. The poblano pepper gives is just a little heat This makes a medium bowl for 4 and a large bowl for 2.

Ingredients

2T water
3 scallions, minced, 3″ – 4″ green reserved for garnish
1/4t coarse sea salt
1 poblano pepper, cored, seeded, 1/4″ dice
4 large cremini mushrooms, stemmed, thickly sliced (about 1/2″)
225g extra firm, high quality tofu, 1/2″ cubes
2 cups green cabbage, shredded (I use coleslaw mix)
1 floury potato (about 2 cups, I use organic russet), 1/3″ dice
1T lemon juice
1 cup water
1 ‘sprig’ kombu (about 3″)
2 cups unsweetened plant milk (I use soy)
1/2T white vinegar
1T dried wakame, crumbled
1T tapioca flour dissolved in 1T cold water
1 cup green curly kale, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
Coarse sea salt, black pepper and vinegar to taste
1/2t purple dulse flakes
1/2t nori flakes

Optional: A tablespoon of garlic and/or replacing the water with vegetable stock will add flavour. A little white miso and/or cashew butter added at the end would go nicely. A little dusting of smoked paprika with the dulse and nori will add flavour and colour. Slowcook for a few hours if you prefer. Press your tofu ahead of time if necessary.

Method

Warm a large frying pan with a lid on medium high heat. Add the 2T water, sea salt, and scallions. Water saute for 1 minute. Add the pepper and mushrooms. Saute for 2 – 3 minutes. Add the cabbage and stir fry for 2 minutes. Add the potatoes and stir fry another 2-3 minutes.

When the pan has browned a little, add the lemon and deglaze. Add the 1 cup water and kombu. Return the pan to a simmer. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes or until the potatoes are fork tender.

Uncover and remove the kombu. Add the plant milk and wakame. Increase heat to medium-low. Simmer uncovered for 15 minutes, stirring frequently, aiming to reduce the plant milk by about 1/3.

Stirring continuously, add the tapioca mixture slowly and stir until it thickens. Remove from heat. Add the kale and nutritional yeast and stir to combine. Season to taste. Ladle/spoon out. Garnish with scallion green sliced on an angle, dulse and nori flakes.

Chili-garlic tofu, asparagus and kale bowl stir fried with avocado oil and sriracha

This is a simple, but light dish, with tofu and asparagus stir fried with red pepper, zucchini, carrots, avocado oil and sriracha, then tossed with kale. This makes a small appetizer for 4 or a larger bowl for 2.

Ingredients

For the tofu
225g extra-firm, high quality tofu, 1/3″ cubes
2T cornstarch
1/4t coarse sea salt to taste
1/4t black pepper, freshly cracked

For the vegetables
2T avocado oil
1 small sweet onion, trimmed, halved length-wise, and sliced, 1/4″
1/4t dried red chilis (or to taste)
1T fresh garlic, minced
1t fresh ginger, minced
8-10 stalks of asparagus, bottoms snapped off, cut in 1″ segments
1 red pepper, cored, seed, and sliced 1/2″
2 small carrots, trimmed, halved length-wise, and sliced on an angle, 1/10″
1 small zucchini, trimmed, halved length-wise, and sliced on a angle, 1/8″
2 cups green curly kale, coarsely chopped
Sea salt and black pepper to taste

For the sauce
1/2 cup boiling water
1 ‘sprig’ dried kombu (about 1″)2T tomato passata (or puree)
1T white pickling vinegar
1/2T sriracha (or to taste — I use 1T)
1/2T coconut sugar
2T tamari (or to taste)
1T tapioca starch dissolved in 2T water

Optional: Add rice or rice noodles for a fuller meal. Add whole cashews. Reduce the avocado oil to 1 tablespoon and add a tablespoon of peanut butter to the sauce if you like. If you have the time, make the sauce first and marinate the tofu in the sauce for 30 minutes, then toss with corn starch. To water saute, replace the avocado oil with 3 tablespoons water and add the tofu with the asparagus. The tofu won’t be as crispy but the cornstarch also provides cling for the sauce. You can replace the kale with other greens, but if you do, pick a sturdy green that will hold up under the warmth of the other vegetables.

Method

Press your tofu ahead of time if necessary. Prepare your vegetables so they’re ready to go. Cube and toss the tofu in the corn starch until well-coated. Bring the 1/2 cup water to a boil and add the kombu to start the rehydration process.

When ready, warm a large frying pan or wok on medium high heat. Add the avocado oil. Add the tofu and fry until lightly browned (should be 2-3 minutes). Working quickly, remove the tofu and set aside.

Add the onion and stir fry for 2 minutes, deglazing the pan as you do. Add the chili, garlic and ginger. Stir fry for another minute. Add the tofu and stir fry for 3 minutes. Add the red pepper, zucchini and carrots. Stir fry another 5 minutes.

Remove the kombu from the water and whisk together the remaining sauce ingredients. Add the sauce to the pan and deglaze again if necessary. Stir fry another 2 – 3 minutes.

Stirring continuously, add the tapioca mixture to the pan and stir until it thickens (should be immediately). Add the kale and stir until lightly wilted (about 2 minutes). Season to taste. Spoon out into bowls and serve

Turmeric, miso stew with tofu, tempeh, mushrooms, and potatoes

Sweetened with dates, thickened with flax, and finished with baby kale, this is a rich, spicy stew with lots of strong flavour and colour. If you’re not a turmeric lover, keep the amount low to start.

Ingredients

1/4 cup water
1/2t coarse sea salt
2T scallions, finely chopped (reserve a few inches of green for garnish)
1-3t dried, ground turmeric (to taste — I use 1T)
1T fresh garlic, minced
1t fresh ginger, grated and minced
1/2t dried, ground cumin
1/2t dried marjoram, rubbed
1/4t dried red chilis (or to taste — I use about 1/2t)
1 cup cremini mushrooms, stemmed and thinly sliced, about 1/8″
125g extra firm, high quality tofu, 1/3″ cubes
125g tempeh, 1/4″ cubes (use pasteurized)
1 1/2 cups potatoes, 1/3″ dice (I use organic russets)
1/2 cup dried, soft dates, pitted and finely chopped
1T lemon juice
1 ‘sprig’ dried kombu, about 2″
2 cups vegetable stock
2 cups unsweetened plant milk
3T red miso (or more, to taste)
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1T sesame seed butter
2T milled flax seed
3 cups loose baby kale (leave a few leaves for garnish)
Coarse sea salt and black pepper to taste

Optional: White, yellow, or other shades of miso will work, but they’ll change the final colour. Use freshly grated turmeric (start with 1T) if you have an easy source. Leave out the garlic if you prefer. A little shredded cabbage added with the plant milk and/or a little cilantro for garnish wouldn’t hurt. Add some fresh blueberries to brighten up the flavour.

Method

Warm a large frying pan with a lid on medium heat. Add the water, sea salt and scallion. Water saute for 2 minutes. Add the turmeric, and other herbs and spices. Saute another minute.

Add the mushrooms. Saute for another 2 – 3 minutes. Add the tofu, tempeh, potatoes and dates. Saute another 2 minutes. Add the lemon and deglaze the pan (if necessary).

Add the stock, bring the pan to a light simmer, cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 15 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Uncover, add the plant milk. Increase heat to medium low.

Simmer another 30 minutes or so uncovered on low heat (as low as you can set it but still simmer) stirring periodically. Remove from heat. Remove the kombu. Add the miso, nutritional yeast, sesame seed butter, flax and kale. Stir to combine.

Let stand 2 minutes to cool. Season to taste. Ladle out into bowls. Garnish with scallion green sliced on an angle and a few scallion greens and serve.