Thursday, September 12, 2013

Recipes My Daughter Likes: Oven-Roasted Tofu with Veggie Pasta

I found myself a real winner in this recipe. It appeared in our local newspaper, and I thought it looked good. Since my daughter is a vegetarian, and she was visiting for the summer, I was eager to try it. One great discovery that came form this was napa cabbage (Chinese cabbage). I had never used it or cooked with it before, but I was very pleased with its light crispy texture and mild flavor. 

In selecting the tofu, be sure to buy the extra firm tofu (you can usually find it in silken, firm, and extra firm - get the extra firm).  Also make sure you thoroughly pat it dry with a paper towel before cooking it -- this allows the outside to bake to a crisper texture. 

This is a very satisfying dish: great taste, a superb sauce, and a quite pleasing blend of textures. Although the recipe allows for the addition of meat, I stuck with the vegetarian version (which is also vegan friendly).

For the pasta, I used whole wheat thin spaghetti. As for time, it took me somewhat longer than the 40 minutes allotted in the recipe. I was probably measuring, chopping and organizing for an hour. Maybe next time I'll be more efficient.  

When I served it, instead of tossing the tofu in with the pasta salad, I placed the roasted tofu in a separate dish and let people put it on top of their salad. I think this made for better leftover serving as well. 

This recipe was such a hit that the leftovers were fought over the next day (usually I am the only one who goes for leftovers). Even though this is a pasta salad, we found that it does very well heated in the microwave when serving the leftovers.


Oven-Roasted Tofu with Veggie Pasta

You can substitute cooked and cubed chicken or turkey for the tofu.
Serves: 6 (as a main dish or more as side dish salad) / Preparation time: 40 minutes /
Total time: 40 minutes

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup lime juice 
  • 6 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce 
  • 2 teaspoons chile garlic paste or to taste, divided 
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil 
  • 1 package extra-firm tofu 
  • 12 ounces veggie thin spaghetti or 12 ounces whole-wheat spaghetti 
  • ½ cup creamy peanut butter 
  • 1 tablespoon seasoned rice vinegar 
  • 2 tablespoons water 
  • 1½ teaspoons minced fresh ginger 
  • 6 cups thinly sliced Napa cabbage 
  • 1 bell pepper, washed, thinly sliced 
  • 1 cup trimmed and thinly sliced snow peas 
  • ½ cup thinly sliced green onion 
  • ½ bunch cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped


Preparation

Position rack in lower third of oven and preheat to 400 degrees. In a pie plate, combine the lime juice, soy sauce, 1 teaspoon chile garlic paste and oil. Pat the tofu with paper towel and cut the block of tofu in half horizontally. Place the two halves in the soy sauce mixture, turning to coat. Let sit for 10 minutes.
Coat a sided baking sheet with cooking spray or brush with a bit of canola oil.

Transfer the tofu to the baking sheet. Reserve the marinade. Roast the tofu, turning once halfway through, until golden brown on both sides, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven. Cool a few minutes and cut into bite-size cubes.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to package directions in a large pot of boiling, salted water. Drain and rinse slightly.

In a food processor or blender, place the reserved marinade, peanut butter, rice vinegar, remaining 1 teaspoon chile garlic paste, water and ginger. Blend until smooth and the mixture coats the back of a spoon. If the mixture is too thick, add more water to thin. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
In a serving bowl, place the pasta, cabbage, bell pepper and snow peas. Drizzle in the sauce and toss to coat. Add the tofu cubes and toss again. Garnish with green onion and cilantro leaves just before serving.

From and tested by Susan M. Selasky for the Free Press Test Kitchen.

313 calories (48% from fat), 18 grams fat (3 grams sat. fat), 29 grams carbohydrates, 14 grams protein, 287 mg sodium, 0 mg cholesterol, 6 grams fiber.



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