Thursday, September 17, 2009

Tofu Veracruz Style

The ripe tomatoes from my garden, that were starting to pile up on my kitchen counter, were calling to me.  I needed to make some sauce before they went bad.  I made a big pot of basic marinara, which I’m going to freeze, in ziplock bags, for later use.  I like to make a basic sauce that I can use as a base for other sauces later.  I’ll add some (vegan) sour cream  and vodka for vodka sauce, or use it as a base for  a minestrone soup.
Watching the sauce simmer on the stove brought back memories snapper Veracruz.  I didn’t have any fish but I did have tofu, so here is a vegan adaptation of that dish.  
Veracruz is one of the 31 states of Mexico, on the eastern gulf coast.  An important port area since it’s invasion by the Spanish back in 1518, the Spanish explorers introduced the parsley, marjoram, bay, olives and garlic that are used in this recipe.
I love this dish!  The flavors are so complex and rich, it makes my mouth water just thinking about it.  This recipe makes four servings but I could have eaten two of them myself, it was that good.  I served it with some wilted chard on the side.
(note:  the recipe, as I wrote it below, calls for green Spanish olives.  Obviously, from the pictures, I didn’t use green olives, because I didn’t have any on hand.  I used Kalamata olives, which is not traditional, but really tasty just the same.  I also didn’t add any jalapeno pepper either, I’m just not that into “hot” but you’re welcome to add some.  And, yes, that does say pickle juice, sweet relish juice is best, but don’t leave it out because you think it’s craziness.)

Tofu Veracruz Style
Serves 4 or 2 very hungry people - Use organic ingredients whenever possible
1 14oz package of extra firm tofu.  (I use Wildwood)
1 lime, juiced
2 teaspoons Earth Balance Buttery Spread 
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 small yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely diced
4 large tomatoes, blanched, peeled and chopped (or a 28 oz can of diced tomatoes)
2 tablespoons liquid from a jar of pickles (I used the liquid from homemade pickle relish)
10 fresh basil leaves, chiffonaded
2 tablespoons fresh parsley
1/4 teaspoon dried marjoram
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon salt
10 green olives, pitted
Slice the tofu into four slabs and pat dry.  Lay them on a plate and cover with the lime juice.
Heat the oil in a pan and add the onions.  Saute for 5 minutes on medium-low.
Add the garlic and saute for 3 minutes more.
Add the tomatoes, turn the heat up a little and saute for 15 minutes, stirring often
Add the pickle juice, herbs, salt, and olives, saute for another 10 minutes or until most of the liquid is cooked off.
Remove the bay leaf.
In another pan, melt the Earth Balance on medium to medium high heat.
Add the tofu and fry for 3 minutes on each side.
Remove from pan and top with the Veracruz sauce.

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