Cooking

Tastebud Trial: Cooking with Tofu!

I’m a mediocre vegetarian and a questionable chef. There, I said it, the truth is out.

A little backstory, if you will.

I decided to try limiting/eliminating my meat intake after watching a few health and environmental documentaries over the summer.  I have pets (which I’ll definitely talk more about later because they’re my children), and a soft spot for most animals, so I thought, “Let’s give it a month; how hard could it be?”  Turns out, it wasn’t as hard as I thought…because I hardly cook as is.  I’m lazy in the kitchen. Grilled cheese sandwiches are a staple, and I’m basically much an expert at boiling water. (I know, I know, hold the applause.) I’ve always enjoyed baking, but let’s face it– cookies and cakes don’t hold you over for too long. Most of what I prepared at home was meat-free, or pretty darn close to it. But although I’d willingly subsisting on exclusively cheese and carbs, my tummy and health would probably not like it in the long run.

I realized I need to be a bit more adventurous in my meal prep, and maybe, just maybe, I’d end up liking to cook!  [The jury is still out on that, but I’ll update if it changes].  Plus, you know, a few vegetables in there couldn’t hurt.

Let’s Get Cooking

I’ve always loved stir fry and Asian cuisine in general.  Most of my attempts at cooking a stir fry involved chicken, fresh/frozen veggies and rice– pretty standard.  This time, though, I wanted to skip the meat and try something new.  TOFU.

I (very loosely) followed this recipe for preparing the tofu.  Joy’s veggie and sauce combo looks AMAZING, but unfortunately I had to roll with the veggies and prepared sauce I had easily accessible. (Side note: I’m working on being more budget-conscious in 2018, so I’m eager to try recipes that are filling and frugal!) I’m sure that if I had stuck to the recipe verbatim, I would have absolutely loved it!

I think my favorite part of this whole process was the slicing and dicing. Tofu has such an interesting texture, and it was pretty cool to work with as I drained it and chopped it into cubes.  I let it dry/pre-bake in the oven as Joy’s recipe calls for, and while it was cooking away, I tossed some canned chickpeas with olive oil, salt, and pepper and spread them onto a baking sheet to roast.

Have I mentioned I love chickpeas?  I could write a sonnet about ’em.  An ode to the garbanzo bean…but that’s for another day.  I wanted to up the protein content of this dish even more, and those magical little beans are so versatile and forgiving! Double-protein + single oven use = winning.

Make sure to rinse and drain your chickpeas well before roasting! Pat them dry with clean kitchen towels before tossing with oil for maximum crispiness.

The End Result

I’ll spare you every detail of the cooking process, but overall, this dish was pretty tasty! If I make it again (which is likely), I will probably allow the tofu to 1.marinate in a sauce, or 2.Lengthen the simmering sauce time to allow the tofu to absorb more of the delicious flavor.  Don’t get me wrong– it was definitely edible! But as a new cooking convert, I want a little less soy taste and a little more tangy goodness.

The finished product! Crunchy and sweet, and great served with brown or white rice.

I’m looking forward to trying new, simple, and healthy recipes throughout the new year.  Do you have a favorite I should try? An tofu tips?— I’m soy excited to hear them!

Okay, sorry, I had to.  Puns are the best.

Until next time,

Janice

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