Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Sesame Tofu with Wilted Greens and Roasted Sweet Potatoes
In my search for a recipe for mizuna, I came across Sesame Tofu on Wilted Greens. While the original recipe called for spinach, I decided maybe mizuna would make the recipe even more Asian-inspired. This recipe is from my Moosewood Restaurant Simple Suppers cookbook (as have been several recipes lately) which is kind enough to suggest side dishes for the mains. Thus, the roasted sweet potatoes were discovered.
A little about tofu. A lot of people are scared by tofu. However, tofu is one of those great ingredients that will take on the flavor of whatever you cook it with. M loves seasoned tofu sticks as a snack. Healthwise, you can't really beat tofu as a protein. It has less fat than many proteins and also has calcium. It took me a while of experimenting with tofu to be comfortable using it, but now I've learned how I do and don't like. I like it in stir fries, etc, but not as a scrambled food. A good way to try tofu for the first time would to be get some at an Asian restaurant---it's really good in Pad Thai or in Chinese dishes.
To make tofu, I first pressed the 16 oz block of firm tofu to get some of the extra water out. Pressing tofu is quite easy. I put the block of tofu between two plates and then put a couple of heavy cookbooks on top. I let it set for between 15 to 30 minutes and the drain the excess water off. (Thanks Michelle for the library suggestion by the way--I got a couple of interesting cookbooks---The Art of French Cooking by Julia Child and Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison. The verdict is still out on the vegetarian cookbook. The Julia Child cookbook is interesting to read, but that's about it). Then I sliced the block of tofu in half, making two thin halves (like you would slice a thick piece of bread). Then I cut into lengthwise into 4 rectangular slabs and then in half again (into 1/16th's). I spread 1/3 c sesame seeds on a plate and pressed each little square into the sesame seeds to evenly coat all sides.
I heated 2 T sesame oil in a large skillet over medium heat. I laid the tofu squares in single layer in the skillet and cooked for about 5 minutes, then I carefully flipped them and cooked them for another 5 minutes. After that I added 2 T soy sauce, turned the squares over again and cooked them until most of the liquid was absorbed. I then removed the tofu from the skillet, but left the remaining sesame seeds and pan drippings behind. I kept the skillet on and heated 1 T olive oil in the pan, then added 3 cloves minced garlic. After about 30 seconds, I threw in all of my remaining mizuna from the week (about 5 oz---the recipe calls for 10 oz of baby spinach). I cooked for a minute or two, stirring frequently until the mizuna was wilted but still bright green.
I started making the roasted sweet potatoes after I dipped the tofu in the sesame seeds (but before I cooked them). I think this may be my replacement for sweet potato fries because it is easier. I simply sliced 3 smallish sweet potatoes into 1/2" thick rounds. I tossed them in a bowl with 1 T olive oil and a couple of shakes of sea salt. I spread the sweet potatoes on a cookie sheet in a single layer and roasted them in a preheated 450 oven for 10 minutes. I flipped them over and cooked them for an additional 5 minutes or until they were tender.
The family loved this meal. M tried the greens, but didn't like them. She loved the sweet potatoes (again, a switch from a couple of weeks ago) and ate some tofu as well. While I was cooking supper, she took a square of uncooked tofu and ate most of it, which is more than I can do with tofu. J loved the tofu and sweet potatoes. Curtis gave him a little soy sauce and we discovered J loves soy sauce most of all. No more soy sauce for that boy! The greens grew on me, Curtis liked them right away. I should have made twice as many sweet potatoes.