Saag Tofu (Spinach and Tofu Curry)

This curry is for spinach lovers, and is utterly delicious. It started out as my version of Saag Paneer (which I’ve never tasted as I can’t eat the Paneer cheese) … so this isn’t a vegan Saag Paneer … it’s a dish in its own right. It’s mildly hot, with sweet undertones from the fried onion and tomato in the curry base sauce.

Saag Tofu

Serves 4 with accompaniments

1 (14 oz) pkt of firm tofu
1 lb frozen spinach, defrosted and drained
3/4 tsp salt for the spinach
1 tbsp coconut oil/Earth Balance margarine
1/4 large (3-4 oz) onion, finely diced

1/8 tsp nutmeg
2 tsp garam masala
1/8 tsp chili powder, or to taste

3/4 tsp salt for the tofu

1 1/2 cups curry base sauce
1/8 cup raw cashews

Drain the tofu and cut into 1/2″ cuboids.

 

DSC_0004Lay a clean cloth kitchen towel on the work-surface, and line it with kitchen paper. Arrange the tofu on the kitchen paper, cover the tofu with more kitchen paper, then fold the towel over the top to help soak up excess moisture. Leave this for 1/2-3 hours. The tofu will have firmed up and have a drier surface when it’s ready, which makes it less likely to stick in the pan while it’s frying.

Put the spinach in a saucepan along with the salt for the spinach. Heat over high heat to remove excess moisture.

Heat 1/2 the fat in a frying pan over medium high heat; add the tofu, sprinkle over with the salt for the tofu, and cook (turning frequently) until the tofu starts to brown and become crispy on the outside. If it sticks to the pan at all, scrape it off with a thin edged spatula (these bits taste good, too).

Once the tofu has become crispy / chewy, scrape it out into the spinach, melt the remaining fat in the frying pan, and fry the onion over medium heat until completely soft and starting to brown (~15 minutes). Add the nutmeg, garam masala, and chili powder at this point, stir to combine (and allow to warm through), then scrape into the spinach saucepan.

Put the curry base sauce and the cashews into a blender, and blend until smooth. Add this to the spinach, stir and heat, then serve hot with rice or GF chapati.

Crumbly, Tangy, Dairy Free Feta

Moist and tangy, this faux feta is very quick to make, and strongly flavored like the dairy cheese. I like it best on crackers and tortilla chips, though in a sandwich with lettuce and tomatoes is good, too.

The rationale behind this recipe is to simmer the tofu in liquid for at least 5 minutes, so that its texture firms up and the harsher vinegar notes are driven off, and to infuse the tofu with the flavorings in the process. It then needs to cool (and continue drying) to firm up.

My miso is a bit lumpy so I quickly blend it with the other ingredients to make a homogenous liquid before adding to the tofu, but if yours is smooth already, you can just whisk the flavoring ingredients together.

The miso I use has a light color, and a rich winey flavor. It isn’t particularly salty, so you may need to adjust the recipe to suit your miso.

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This quantity makes 1 – 2 servings of faux feta. If you have cause to increase the batch size, make sure to use a large frying pan so the juices have plenty of room to evaporate.

1 tbsp chickpea or other light colored miso
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp white balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 tsp nutritional yeast
2 tsp margarine (I use Earth Balance)
4 – 5 oz firm tofu

DSC_0001Blend the miso, salt, vinegar, and nutritional yeast together with 4 fl oz (1/2 cup) of water.

Heat the margarine in a small frying pan, then roughly mash the tofu with the back of a fork into the margarine.

Add the remaining ingredients to the pan, and simmer until the water evaporates and the tofu starts to sizzle in the fat. Drying FetaAvoid breaking up the tofu lumps too much.

Fry for a couple of minutes to drive off any excess water, stirring continuously, then turn off the heat.

Scoop all together to form a block, and leave in the pan to cool and solidify. (~1/2 hour) Pack into a small container and store in the fridge as necessary.

Breakfast Casserole

Ah, comfort food. This is perfect breakfast food after a busy night. You can make it the day before, and feed 4 people with very little effort (and possibly a little toast) the next morning. It is warming and satisfying, but not at all heavy.

I designed this with sliced red potatoes (grated ones cooked to a mush), and with the tofu on top so it can bake and dry slightly. Don’t miss out on the lemon / lime juice that’s added to both the onion/pepper mix and the tofu; it gives an interesting zing, lifting the flavor and reducing the amount of salt required. The general consensus of opinion was that the vegan cheese was a good addition, too, and needed to be all over the surface, albeit in a thin layer. I baked it until both the cheese and the tofu were starting to brown.

 

2 tsp oil
1/4 large onion, cut into long strips
8 oz bell pepper flesh, diced or sliced
1/4 tsp lemon or lime juice
1/8 tsp salt
1 lbs red (waxy) potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper

1/2 cup cashew flour
14 oz firm tofu, drained
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 tbsp nutritional yeast
light dash of cayenne pepper
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp lemon/lime juice

6 baby tomatoes, for garnish
2 oz faux cheese, for garnish
Optionally serve with Ranchero sauce and toast.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan, and cook the onion and peppers over a medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, and the onions are starting to brown (~10 mins).

Line a 10 x 8″ casserole dish with parchment paper or  grease. Peel and finely slice the potatoes into the casserole dish, and toss with the 1/4 tsp salt, and 1/8 tsp ground black pepper. Distribute evenly over the bottom of the casserole.

Sprinkle 1/4 lemon or lime juice and 1/8 tsp of salt over the onions and peppers, stir, then spread evenly over the potato.

Combine the remaining ingredients (except garnish), together in a large mixing bowl, and mash thoroughly with a pastry wire (or the back of a sturdy fork) until no large lumps remain, or pulse in a food processor, but do not puree.

Spread evenly over the onion and pepper layer.

Press the tomato and cheese garnish into the top of the tofu layer.

Bake in the middle of the oven, at 400F for 30-35 minutes.

Check the potatoes are completely cooked by sticking a fork into the middle of the dish, if still not soft, cook for another 10 minutes.

Serve warm rather than hot, optionally with Ranchero Sauce and almond bread.

Vegan Taco Meat

One of these tacos is really enough for one person, though it’s tempting to have another, and they do make for deliciously messy eating. There’s something very satisfying about munching into a large handful of salad-y stuff wrapped in a tortilla with all the different flavors vying for your attention. Tacos are very informal fare, and can be presented as a DIY type meal, with a refried bean or taco meat base, and various toppings to chose from.

The taco meat that I outline below is moderately spicy, though its flavor is tempered by the other ingredients in the taco. Tacos are usually made with corn tortillas, but I’d seriously advise against commercially produced ones, as they are remarkably similar to cardboard, but don’t taste as good. Home-made corn tortillas are a different matter altogether, as are home made GF tortillas.

Update: This freezes well. The tofu firms up slightly which is actually quite a good variation.

tacos

Tacos with tender, spicy, tofu, taco meat, lettuce, avocado, baby tomatoes, and fresh cilantro.

4 – 8 servings

2 tsp oil
1/2 medium (1/4 large) onion, chopped
16 oz mixed bell peppers (frozen pepper strips work fine), sliced and diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 – 1/2 tsp ground chipotle chili powder (or paprika with some chili added), or to taste
1 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1 tbsp mushroom powder (optional, rounds out the flavors)
1 1/4 tsp salt (optionally, extra 1/2 tsp)
14 oz firm tofu, frozen and defrosted (at least once)

8 corn or other GF 6-8” tortillas
romaine lettuce, shredded
fresh tomatoes, diced
diced/sliced avocado or guacamole
Mexican rice (optional)
refried beans (optional)
red onion, diced (optional)
fresh cilantro (leaf coriander)
fajitas (lightly fried slivers of onion, peppers, courgette/zucchini) (optional)

To make the taco meat:

Heat the oil in a medium sized saucepan over a medium heat, and gently cook the onion, peppers, and garlic until softened.

Add the chili, salt, paprika, and cumin to the vegetables,, and cook for 10 minutes.

Blend the sauce until fairly smooth. If it is too thick to blend, add up to 8 fl oz (1 cup) of water and expect to simmer much of this off, later.

By hand, squeeze the excess water out of the tofu, and crumble it into the sauce.

Simmer until the sauce has been absorbed by the tofu (~5-10 minutes), stirring occasionally.

Adjust seasoning (including heat) to taste.

To make the tacos:

On each tortilla, lay a stripe of taco meat/refried beans, and on top of that a stripe of any or all of the other options, finishing with the salad ingredients. Fold the sides of the tortilla up, and eat with your hands.

Moist Cauliflower Cornbread

Upturned Cornbread

This is surprisingly good, and is almost a meal in its own right with a protein source, vegetables, and a whole-grain carbohydrate. It serves 6 people served with side-dishes such as Red Bean Chili or Black Bean and Veggie Chili. Note that the cornbread rises best if made in a hot pan, and put in a hot oven as soon as the wet ingredients hit the dry ingredients. You can use any combination of vegetables that you want. I’ve used, broccoli, cauliflower, and fried onions with both of them. I’m sure that small cubes of white or sweet potato or garlicky French beans would also work well.

1 medium (1/2 a large) onion, chopped
2 oz (1/4 cup) margarine
12 oz cauliflower (or ~3 cups of some other combination of veggies)
12 oz firm tofu
4 eggs
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp + 1 1/2 tsp salt
4 oz (1 cup) fine ground cornmeal (not cornstarch)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 – 1 tsp pepper

Preheat oven to 400F (200 degrees C).

Fry the onion in the margarine, and cook the veggies any way you like until soft. I steam/fry mine with garlic as in Garlicky Vegetable Salad in the cast iron pan(s) that I want to bake the cornbread in.

Drain the tofu and briefly squeeze to remove some of the water. Crumble it with your hands into a large mixing bowl, and season with 1/2 tsp each of salt, garlic powder, and onion powder.

Combine all of the ingredients in the large bowl, breaking the vegetables into smallish pieces, and scraping the cooking fat in as well.

Pour the mixture back into the hot (well oiled) cast iron pan(s) (1 x 10″ pan or 2 x 8″ pans), and smooth the top over with a spatula.

Bake for 20 minutes (if using 2 x 8″ cast iron pans) or 30-40 minutes (if using a single 10″ pan), or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cornbread comes out clean.

Tofu Rancheros

This doesn’t come under the heading of diet food. This is a gratuitous weekend morning celebration of life/family/friends. It does take a bit of forethought, if you’re going to make your own Refried Beans and  Ranchero Sauce (highly recommended), but if you double or triple up recipes when you’re making them (and keep them in the freezer), it comes together quickly!

I find that frying the tofu is most easily accomplished when the surface of the tofu is dry, the frying pan is hot (not warm), and the fat used for frying is margarine (I use Earth Balance). For some reason, canola (rapeseed) oil just isn’t up to the job.

Tofu Rancheros

Tofu Rancheros with refried black beans.

1 recipe Rancheros Sauce (~2 cups)
14-16 oz packet of firm tofu
2 cups refried beans
1 tbsp margarine
4 small GF tortillas
1 tbsp nutritional yeast
2 tbsp Braggs Aminos
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
Chopped fresh cilantro/leaf coriander for decoration

Drain the tofu, cut it into 1/4” cubes, and wrap in a layer of kitchen paper and then a layer of cloth kitchen towel. Spread the pieces out so they all touch the towel, and leave for at least 1/2 hour so the surfaces can dry.

Warm the Rancheros sauce and refried beans in separate saucepans, and warm the tortillas over the Rancheros sauce, in the microwave, or in a warm, dry frying pan.

In a small bowl, mix together the nutritional yeast, Braggs, and pepper.

fried tofuIn a large frying pan, heat 1/2 the fat over a high heat, and then add 1/2 of the tofu. Keep the tofu moving until it is browned all over (~10 mins), then tip it into the seasonings.

Repeat the process with the other 1/2 of the margarine and tofu.

Lay one tortilla on each plate.

Smooth out 1/4 of the refried beans on top of each tortilla; top this with ranchero sauce and 1/4 of the tofu.

Serve immediately, decorated with the fresh cilantro (leaf coriander).

Tofu (crustless) Quiche

In the days before I was concerned about egg and dairy consumption, I loved quiche, but wouldn’t make it due to the calorie count. This recipe solves both problems in one hit, providing you don’t make the crust. If you do want to make a crust, check out my recipe for the potato / almond pastry; there’s no need to apologize to your glutenous friends for this adaptation.

The only non vegan ingredient in this dish is the egg in the potato pastry. If you use vegan pastry or make a crustless quiche, the whole thing will be vegan. My husband likes the filling to have a large proportion of chunky vegetables; the kids don’t care, they like it any way it comes. Don’t be fooled by the ingredient list; the tofu custard is rich even though the calorie count is diet-worthy (providing you leave out the crust and don’t eat the whole thing in one sitting)!

pastry made with 8 oz of flour, refrigerated (optional)
1/2 cup cashews, soaked for 1/2 hour in water
1 tbsp non-hydrogenated margarine
1/2 large yellow onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
12 oz broccoli, broken into small florets
14 oz packet of firm tofu, drained
1 tsp salt (use partly kala namuk if an eggy taste is desired)
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 tbsp light colored miso (e.g. chickpea; optional)
dash of cayenne pepper
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp lemon juice

Soak the cashews in water for at least 1/2 hour.

In a large cast iron pan, bring to the boil 1/4 inch of water, 1/2 tsp regular salt, the garlic, and the broccoli. Cover with a lid and steam until the broccoli is nearly cooked, then remove the lid and let the water evaporate. Add 1/2 the margarine and allow the broccoli to brown slightly.
In a large cast iron pan, fry the onion in the rest of the margarine over a medium heat until browned.
Line an 8” or 9” cake tin with baking parchment.
If you’re making a crust, crumble the pastry dough into the lined pan such that it is evenly spread, and then use your knuckles to press it into place and compact it.

Place in the fridge until ready to use.
Drain the cashews and process in a food processor for 30 seconds. Make sure they’re pretty smooth before adding the tofu, and pulse again along with 1/2 of the broccoli, the onion, and the other ingredients until mixture is smoothish. Don’t over process or the tofu will be too creamy, and have too little bulk.
Stir in the remainder of the broccoli, check for seasoning, and spoon it into the pie pan. Smooth the top, and bake for 40 minutes at 350F.
Eat hot or cold.

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