Tofu Vindaloo

Tofu Vindaloo

I’m not an advocate for complicated processes in the kitchen — and this requires a few steps more than what’s normal for me — but the hard work really pays off in this tantalizing Indian recipe of complex flavors and spices that truly makes your heart soar. It it based on a recipe from one of my favorite blogs Oh My Veggies, and requires a hand blender or food processor and a spice grinder or mortar and pestle if you are using whole seeds or cloves. But don’t be intimidated. Spice cooking is not like baking. You can add a little more turmeric here and a little less garlic there, you can skip an element all together, and your curry base will still take on a life of its own. This vindaloo concept might be life changing for you, as it was for me. I mean, who doesn’t want a Indian dish in their repertoire? All I’m saying is, buy some naan and make this.

VINDALOO PASTE
1 small onion, quartered
3 garlic cloves
2 teaspoons fresh grated ginger
1/2 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

TOFU VINDALOO
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 (15-ounce) package extra firm tofu cut into 1-inch cubes
1 1/4 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup tomato paste
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 medium head cauliflower, chopped into florets
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 cups fresh green beans, cut into 2-inch pieces
Rice or naan, for serving

Place all of the vindaloo paste ingredients in a food processor or hand blender base and puree until it reaches a paste consistency, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl or pitcher as needed. Set aside. In a separate bowl, combine the vegetable broth, tomato paste, vinegar and sugar. Set aside. Add the oil to a large saucepan over medium-high heat, cook tofu cubes for 10 minutes, flipping every 2 minutes or so, until it’s lightly browned. Push the tofu out to the sides of the of the saucepan, making a space in the center. Add the vindaloo paste to the center and heat for 1 minute, until fragrant. Add the broth mixture and gently combine, then bring to a simmer and add the cauliflower, pepper and green beans. Reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 12-15 minutes or until veggies are tender, stirring occasionally. Add up to 1/2 cup of water during cooking if sauce becomes too thick.

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General Tso Cauliflower

Today’s recipe is not going to win any beauty contest. But then again, neither will I — unless it’s a leg contest. I think I could win that. But like me, this General Tso Tofu dish is authentic and unexpectedly flavorful, even with a bleak “resting face”.

This dish comes from Bakeaholic Mama and has that wonderful thick and creamy Chinese sauce with gingery garlicy flavors. A few things to note on where I went wrong – make it in small batches rather than all at once to ensure the cauliflower florets cooks thoroughly and still get that crispy outside. Mine was more “steamed” than “fried”. Also, use a wide and deep pan, not a wok. I did add a package of diced Chinese smoked tofu which added a kick of protein. cauliflower

GENERAL TSO CAULIFLOWER
1 large head of cauliflower cut into florets
2 tsp sesame oil
1 egg
1/3 cup corn starch
3 tbs soy sauce
Peanut oil for frying

For the sauce:
2 1/2 tsp minced ginger root
3 cloves of minced garlic
1 1/2 cups vegetable stock
1/3 cup soy sauce
2 tbs cornstarch
2 tsp garlic chili sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar, loosely packed
1 tbs sesame oil
1 tbs peanut oil
Brown rice for serving
Green onions for garnish

Directions:
In a medium mixing bowl mix together cornstarch, soy sauce, sesame oil, and egg until a you form a batter. Toss cauliflower in batter until evenly coated, then set aside for about 15 minutes. In a heavy bottomed fry pan, add 2 tbs of peanut oil and heat until the pan is hot. Toss in cauliflower florets and fry over medium heat until evenly browned on all sides. Once cauliflower is prepared, start your sauce. In a separate sauce pan, add sesame oil and peanut oil with your garlic and ginger and saute for 2 – 3 minutes. Mix in remaining sauce ingredients and whisk constantly over medium high heat, until it comes to a low boil. Once sauce has thickened, add to the fry pan you cooked your cauliflower in and toss with fried cauliflower. Over medium low heat, toss the cauliflower until it is evenly coated in the sauce. Serve over brown rice and garnish with green onions.

Easiest Chana Masala

chana masalaIn the Western World, turmeric root is often used as an agent to color curry powders, mustards, butters, and cheeses. But in the Eastern World, turmeric root is widely used as a medicinal ingredient used to treat inflammatory and irritated skin conditions, and to encourage healthy digestion and liver function. Surprisingly, just 1 tablespoon of turmeric contains 15% of your daily iron needs and even contains a moderate amount of vitamin B6 so it’s health benefits are verifiable. Native to Southeast Asia, turmeric has been considered highly auspicious and holy in Hindu and Tamil spiritualism for millennia so I find it especially intriguing as a spice.

My Easiest Chana Masala recipe is so soul satisfying even my toddler eats it (well, he picks out the cauliflower parts and then devours the chickpeas). The warm, bitter flavor of the turmeric and the rich, earthy curry powder are the two shining ingredients in this embarrassingly simple dish that piques everyone’s interest when I heat it up in the office microwave. By now you should know that I like to get my bang for the buck, and this dish does not disappoint coming in at around $10.

EASIEST CHANA MASALA
32 oz can of diced tomatoes
32 oz can of chickpeas, drained
1 head of cauliflower, stems removed and florets set aside
2 medium onions, diced
1 Tablespoon turmeric powder
2 Tablespoons curry powder
3 garlic cloves, diced
1 bunch of cilantro, roughly chopped
Olive oil

Add a generous amount of olive oil to a large saute pan. Saute the garlic and onions on medium heat until they are browning. Then add the cauliflower florets and cook for another 4-5 minutes, constantly turning. Add turmeric and curry powder and mix until well combined with the cauliflower mixture. Add the diced tomatoes and chickpeas, cover the saute and let simmer for 15 minutes or until the cauliflower is just soft enough to stab with a fork but still has as bit of a crunch. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro and serve immediately. The great thing about this dish is you can easily improvise and add your favorite vegetables to change up the recipe.

Ev
Chard Soup

Cashew Cauliflower

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We have been taught since early childhood that animal protein is essential to a nutritionally balanced diet, but Dr. Joel Fuhrman of his national best seller Eat To Live argues that the common food pyramid is grossly outdated and misunderstands the nutritional value of vegetables, fruits, grains and nuts. These essential foods provide a more valuable balance of protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals by caloric intake that your body needs and craves than animal protein does, and thus are dubbed Nutrient Dense Foods. For instance, you get twice as much protein from 100 calories of broccoli than you would from 100 calories of steak. It also provides your daily needs of Vitamin A, C, K, fiber, and is even rich in kaempferol if you are following a hypoallergenic diet. In addition, 100 calories of broccoli provides more calcium than one glass of whole milk! Dr. Fuhrman does of course leave room for animal protein intake, but the evidence about nutrition in fruits and vegetables is impossible to ignore in today’s modern world if medicine.

Unfortunately, the concept of meat and potatoes as a dinner staple has left a lasting impression on many Americans. I struggle every day to pack substitute lunches for Asher’s preschool lunch, and I cringe at what they consider a balanced meal for children. Apparently these caretakers would prefer that I let my children subsist on fish sticks and Ragin’ Roast Beef Friday than teach them to eat salad!

But enough about broccoli and the failed school food system, it’s time for some cauliflower! Today I’m sharing a Cashew Cauliflower dish that I got from Veg Kitchen with Nava Atlas which is mind-blowingly tasty. Even my roofing contractor walked in today to fix a roof leak and remarked how good it smelled!

CASHEW CAULIFLOWER
1 head of cauliflower, cut into florets
1 small red bell pepper, roughly chopped with seeds and veins removed
2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
3 garlic cloves, finely diced
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, finely diced
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 cup whole roasted and unsalted cashews
1 cup diced pineapple
1⁄3 cup minced fresh cilantro leaves

In a small bowl, whisk 1⁄4 cup water with the cornstarch until smooth. Set aside. Heat a large wok over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, add the sesame oil, garlic, and ginger and stir fry for 1 minute. Turn heat high and add the cauliflower, bell pepper, and soy sauce and stir-fry for 3 minutes. Add the cornstarch and the cashews and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated and the florets have softened. Stir in the pineapple and cook about 5 minutes longer. Sprinkle with the cilantro and serve immediately.

This photo of Asher was not staged! He stole my broccoli from the refrigerator. Most likely to get a rise out of me. Proud mama!

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Buffalo Cauliflower Bites

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I have a weakness for Frank’s Hot Sauce. It makes me feel like Everett looks in this photo after eating pizza. It is such a versatile ingredient that has all the spicy, salty, tangy flavors that I love. You can mix it with Ranch for southwest salads, mayo for spicy black bean burgers, and as a dip for veggies. I usually associate it with my “off diet” days because it inevitably (and happily) means I’m eating bar food. But when I recently stumbled upon this devilishly good recipe going around on Pinterest for Buffalo Cauliflower Bites I knew I had hit gold.

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You can substitute unflavored soy milk for the buttermilk to make it vegan. I also made it without the butter so it was a tad dry but totally worth it.

BUFFALO CAULIFLOWER BITES
1 head of cauliflower, cut into bite size pieces
1/2 c buttermilk
1/2 c flour
1 tsp garlic salt
1/2 c buffalo sauce
1 tbsp butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350º. In a large bowl whisk together buttermilk, flour, and garlic salt until smooth. The batter should be slightly thick so that it sticks to the cauliflower. Place the cauliflower into the bowl of batter and gently toss to coat. Spread the battered cauliflower out on a greased baking dish. Bake for 20–25 minutes turning once until some of the edges turn a nice golden color. While the cauliflower is baking combine the buffalo sauce and melted butter in a small bowl. Remove the cauliflower from the oven and drizzle the buffalo sauce mixture over the top and toss to coat. Return the cauliflower to the oven and bake for an additional 5–10 minutes. Remove the finished cauliflower from the oven, serve hot or warm.

Green Olive, Cauliflower, Chickpea Couscous

lettuceThis weekend I took Asher to Pickles Playroom to enjoy the madness of too many unsupervised children barreling over each other as disinterested parents and disgruntled nannies looked on from the nearby cafe. Pickles recently reorganized their space, and apparently they believe that removing the parent seating from inside the play area was actually a stroke of genius. I, along with maybe two other mothers, actually ran after our kids and played Let’s Cook Dinner in the Fake Kitchen or Time to Answer the Phone at the Office while the other children yanked trains from each others arms in tears while rubbing their drooling noses. When it was lunch time, I ate an over-priced and poorly prepared Greek salad from their cafe and Asher chomped on a grilled cheese sandwich with plastic – I mean Kraft. And that’s when it happened. Asher reached over, picked up a piece of lettuce, gave me a sly smile, declared he was going to eat my salad and then did it. He ate my salad. I was speechless. I was proud. And I thought, well that’s motivation to keep cooking.

green olive cauliflower couscousAnd so today I share a recipe for a really delicious and intriguing dish – Green Olive, Cauliflower, Chickpea Couscous. It’s salty olives mixed with the sweet roasted cauliflower and bitter chopped parsley make it a delightful dish either on it’s own or as a side.

GREEN OLIVE, CAULIFLOWER, CHICKPEA COUSCOUS
1 cup Isreali couscous, uncooked
1 can garbanzo beans, drained
20 green pimento olives, sliced into thirds
1 cup roughly chopped parsley
1 head cauliflower
1 Tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Juice of 1 lemon

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Cut cauliflower head into quarters and then separate the florets into smaller pieces with a large knife. Toss cauliflower florets with salt and olive oil and bake on baking sheet for 20 minutes. Boil 1 1/3 cup water in small pot. Add Israeli couscous and turn down to simmer with lid on for 8-10 minutes. Fluff with fork and remove from heat to cool. Add sliced green olives, parsley, garbanzo beans, and lemon juice to the couscous. When cauliflower has browned remove from oven and mix into the couscous mixture. A vegan feast!