So I seriously cannot believe that it's almost Thanksgiving. Honestly, we really don't have any plans here at the Fur Ninja house. Mike's kids are with their mom, and my family doesn't really "do" Thanksgiving in a big get-everyone-together way. We might go down to Maryland to see Mike's grandmother the day after, and we were invited by some friends about an hour and a half north, but I'm not sure Mike wants to make the drive. So right now we don't have much in the works for Thanksgiving Day. Mike had the idea of doing an "anti-Thanksgiving" where we get Chinese takeout and just relax in each other's company. Because I'm always doing crazy amounts of cooking (and Thanksgiving just gets even more super crazy), and because money is so tight right now, and time so limited with Mike working two jobs, I'm thinking that sounds like a great idea. I'd rather spend the holiday snuggling with my beautiful man and our adorable kitties than spending all of it in the kitchen. However, I know that most normal people will be enjoying big meals with family and friends, and the Thanksgiving holiday presents a special challenge for us veg*ns. I've decided that in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving (and afterwards, Christmas) that I'll be posting lots of holiday feast-worthy recipes that will have even the omnis at the table sneaking jealous glances at your animal-free plate. Last week, I posted this recipe for Sweet Potato Rolls, which would be a perfect compliment to a vegan holiday meal, and today's recipe is for a main dish that you can sink your teeth into without harming any happy little turkeys.
Now granted, I'm not a big fan of baked tofu. I don't particularly enjoy eating it on it's own, but prefer it as part of a whole in stir fries, scramble, on pizza as vegan ricotta, etc. However, every once in a while, I decide to try out a marinade and see what develops. It also doesn't hurt that I found huge restaurant-size bulk packages of tofu at the Asian market for a mere $3.50, so I've got lots of it to experiment with. This recipe is great for two reasons - first, the herbs playing off the sweetness of the wine and maple syrup in the marinade really makes the tofu delicious, and if you broil it at the end, it gets rid of the squooshy texture and makes it satisfyingly chewy. Second, the marinade is very thick and can be poured over both the finished tofu and anything else you've got on your plate that could use a little bit of gravy love. I served this baked tofu with mashed potatoes, stuffing, spinach sauteed with garlic, and sweet potato rolls for both Mike and an old friend of mine with a big ol' bottle of white wine. Mike went back for seconds (the true test of whether or not a recipe is omni-friendly here at the Fur Ninja house) and even my other friend who is less-familiar with my vegan cooking loved it. So make up this tofu for your Thanksgiving meal, your next family gathering, or just because it's Tuesday and you have some tofu in the fridge...no matter when you make it, I guarantee it'll make you feel just a little holiday warmth, no matter what time of year it is.
Baked Tofu with Sweet White Wine Sauce
***This recipe requires advanced preparation - the tofu should marinate as long as possible for the best flavor, so press and marinate your tofu the night before or in the morning.
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon rosemary, crushed slightly in your fingers
1/2 teaspoon sage
1/8 teaspoon ginger
pinch of five-spice powder
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1/4 cup white wine
2 Tablespoons maple syrup
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
several grinds fresh black pepper
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
1 lb extra firm tofu
1/2 large sweet onion, cut into wedges
First, press your tofu. Wrap it in a clean tea towel and put on a cutting board or plate. Place another plate on top of it and weight down slightly with a can or two of beans or a cookbook or something. Don't weight it too much or you'll just smush your tofu. Leave for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, make your marinade. Heat the olive oil over low heat in a small saucepan. Add the garlic and cook gently for about 3 minutes or until fragrant. Be careful not to burn the garlic. Add the rosemary, sage, ginger, and five-spice and cook for 30 seconds. Add the vegetable broth, wine, maple syrup, soy sauce, and pepper and whisk everything together. Place the cornstarch in a measuring cup or small bowl and add about 1/2 cup of the marinade from the pot. Whisk until the cornstarch is dissolved. Add the whole thing back into the pot and raise the heat to bring it to a boil, whisking constantly. Lower the heat slightly and simmer for 5 minutes until thickened. Turn off the heat and cool for about 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, slice your pressed tofu width-wise into slabs about 1/2" thick. Place the tofu slabs along with the onion wedges in a single layer in a shallow baking dish. Pour the marinade over the tofu and onions. There should be plenty of marinade to cover everything completely. Cover and set aside for at least 1 hour, but it's best if you marinate overnight or in the morning if you're going to be making this for dinner.
Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees F. Remove the tofu and onions from the marinade (reserve the marinade to serve with the tofu) and place on a baking sheet that has been sprayed lightly with cooking spray or olive oil. Bake the tofu for 10 minutes, flip the pieces over, and cook for another 10 minutes. Turn on the broiler and cook another 5 minutes (watching closely to make sure you don't burn) to make the tofu nice and chewy.
When ready to serve, gently heat the marinade in a saucepan until warm. Serve over the tofu.
So there you have it; a delicious main-dish for your holiday meal. Tofu not your thing? Never fear; I'm developing recipes for cornbread stuffing with brussels sprouts and veggie bacon, and another main dish recipe of braised tempeh with fennel and oranges so you'll have lots of options for your holiday meal. I may even get a pie recipe up if I have the time. Until next time then - much love and happy tummies!
The Fur Ninja <3