I thought I’d take a break from the usual holiday fare and lighten up with this sweet and herby tofu, coated with a thyme-pepper mixture and then pan-fried in extra virgin olive oil and honey. The accompaniment is a protein-packed couscous studded with carrots, shelled edamame and crunchy pepitas (roasted pumpkin/squash seeds). If you can’t find roasted pumpkin seeds in the grocery store, buy a pumpkin, remove the seeds and roast them (you can find lots of instructions online). Then you can roast the pumpkin as well to make puree for a pumpkin pie or chopped for a smoked mozzarella, sage and pumpkin pizza (one of my favorite flavors this time of year).
Adapted from a recipe in Vegetarian Times November/December 2007
Time: -20 minutes active; 30 minutes total
14–16 ounces extra firm tofu
2 teaspoons black pepper
2 teaspoons dried thyme (4 teaspoons fresh, minced)
2 teaspoons salt, divided
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
1/4 cup honey
2 cups vegetable broth
1 cup carrots, chopped (about 2 medium)
1 cup frozen shelled edamame, thawed
1 1/2 cups whole-wheat couscous
1/2 cup toasted unsalted pumpkin seeds
1. Cut tofu block in half lengthwise and place side by side on a paper towel-lined plate. Place another layer of paper towels on top, then another plate and then a heavy pot and/or foil-wrapped brick (I did both). Let drain for 10 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, in a shallow dish mix together pepper, thyme and 1 teaspoon salt. After draining the tofu, cut each piece into four so you have eight total. Coat tofu with pepper-thyme-salt mixture on both sides and set aside.
3. Put broth, carrots, edamame, 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil and remaining salt in a medium pot and heat, covered, over medium heat. When it comes to a boil, remove from heat and stir in couscous. Replace cover and let sit for 5–10 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, heat remaining 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil and honey in a large skillet over medium heat until bubbling. Put tofu in the pan and cook on each side about 3 minutes, until lightly browned. You may need to do this in two rounds if all the tofu steaks don’t fit in the skillet.
5. To assemble, place 1/4 of the couscous mixture on a plate and top with two tofu steaks. Sprinkle with pumpkin seeds and any remaining thyme leaves as a garnish. Repeat with other three dishes and serve hot.
Writer Bio: Adrienne D. Capps loves food and is a vegetarian—she doesn’t believe these things are mutually exclusive. A vegetarian for the past nine years, Capps created Vegetarianized.com as a way to share her passion for eating, drinking, and cooking—and to make vegetarianism more accessible. The blog transforms meat dishes into vegetarian or improves vegetarian recipes and puts the results up in a weekly post called the Sunday Serving on the blog and at the Facebook Group, Vegetarianized. Capps is also a food writer, teaches cooking classes in Davis and is an amateur caterer. Upcoming cooking classes and recent food articles are found on the blog home page.