Thursday, June 01, 2006

The Resurrection

Left with very few crepes and lots of spinach-basil sauce and tofu "cheese" from the chickpea crepe incident, I decided to resurrect the leftovers into a simple one-pot meal. It was a no-brainer, really, pesto + "feta" = mediterranean pasta. So, I tossed some whole-wheat rotini with the pesto, some chopped sun-dried tomatoes, pine nuts, kalamata olives, and the tofu cheese from the night before. I was very pleased with the results - super simple, tasty, protein-filled pasta, and I did not miss the cheese at all. And, it made a fantastic lunch today served cold over mixed greens. I am particularly happy with the pesto, because it is mainly comprised of spinach, not basil. Because there is still a generous amount of basil in the pesto, the flavor is still there, while the spinach provides extra vitamins, antioxidents, folic acid, etc. that would otherwise not be present in the basil pesto (right?). Also, the recipe calls for 1/2 c. of water, which liquifies the pesto without using large amounts of oil.

Spinach-Basil Sauce
from The Voluptuous Vegan
Prep and wash 3/4 lb. fresh spinach and using only the water on the leaves, cook down in a skillet until wilted and bright green (OR use a defrosted 10 oz. package of frozen spinach) and transfer to a blender. Saute 1 finely chopped medium onion and 3 minced garlic cloves in 2 T. olive oil until softened and lightly browned, and transfer to the blender with the spinach. Add 1 c. fresh basil leaves, 1 chopped scallion, 1 t. mellow barley miso, 1 jalapeno (stem and seeds removed), 1/2 c. water, 2 T. pine nuts, 2 T. olive oil, and 1 t. sea or kosher salt to the blender and blend until smooth. If desired, add stir in 2 T. chopped fresh oregano by hand after blending. Add 2 T. lemon juice no more than one hour before serving (or just before serving if using pesto on more than one occassion), and be sure to heat gently, so as not to discolor it.
This was my first attempt at tofu "cheese" and I was quite excited to give it a try. Don't get me wrong, I do love cheese, but in moderation. For me, a little goes a long way, and that is just my personal taste preference. I love the idea of using tofu instead, because I get all those soy-licious qualities without even the risk of getting an upset stomach (tmi?). So, Chris likened this to "feta" although it does not have that strong of a flavor, so it could be very versatile. The tarragon adds a nice fresh flavor that would be good on salads, sandwiches, or of course, pasta dishes, among other things.

Tofu "Cheese"
from The Voluptuous Vegan
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Drain and cut 1 lb. firm or extra-firm tofu into 1-inch cubes and place in a pot of simmering, lightly salted water for 5 minutes. Remove tofu from water, drain, pat dry and place in a medium bowl. In a small bowl, whisk 3 T. olive oil, 2 T. fresh lemon juice, 1 minced garlic clove, 2 t. mellow barley miso, and salt and pepper to taste until combined, and pour over the tofu. Mash the mixture with a fork or potato masher until the liquid has been absorbed and curds have formed, and stir in 1 T. chopped fresh tarragon and 1 T. chopped fresh chives (I used scallion). Place the mixture in a baking dish and bake for about 20 minutes, or until the tofu starts to brown.

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