Saturday, May 3, 2014

Meatless May Day 2: Tofu Puttanesca

I thought I had everything planned to make cheese tortellini with a five cheese sauce, but then I remembered I didn't make any ricotta, and I refuse to buy the store-bought stuff (more on this tomorrow).  This was around 5:00, so I needed to think of something fast for supper.  Flipping through my cookbooks, I found a recipe for a tofu puttanesca scramble.  Brilliant I thought, I have a jar of capers hanging around that I've been wanting to use anyway, so a quick trip to the grocery store for tofu and tomatoes, and I was set.

I expected this to be good, but it was better than that.  If you've not had puttanesca, it's a briny, spicy, garlicky, tomatoey sauce, usually tossed with pasta.  I know it has some connection to brothels because it was something the ladies could whip up quickly with what they had on hand.  The tofu was a great vehicle because it soaked up all the briny flavors of the olives and capers, but you could use pasta or chicken here too.  I do wish I had some crusty bread to eat this with.

I served the tofu with parsley-buttered potatoes and roasted green beans.  This is my favorite way to have green beans, just toss with a little oil, salt, and pepper, and roast on a cookie sheet.  I roasted these at 375 F for about 25 minutes, but sometimes I'll roast them longer to get them softer.  

For the potatoes, use a waxy potato like yellow or red for best results.  Steam or boil cubed potatoes until tender, but not falling apart.  Toss with butter, salt, and lots of chopped parsley.

I didn't use the recipe I found, but it did give me inspiration to whip something up on my own.  So, here's my version of Tofu Puttanesca (recipe below picture)

Tomorrow: Cheese Tortellini with 5 Cheeses

Tofu Puttanesca

  • 12 or 16 oz package extra firm tofu, drained and cubed
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced thin
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil (you may need a little more depending on how much the tofu sucks up)
  • 1 cup whole grape tomatoes or cherry tomatoes cut in half
  • 12 large black olives, sliced
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons capers
  • 1/2 tablespoon caper brine
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • optional 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley to top
  1. preheat heavy bottomed straight-sided or pan or large skillet over medium high heat.
  2. Add olive oil and garlic, cook garlic until brown, but watch it, it will burn quickly.  This should take a little less than a minute.
  3. Add cubed tofu and red pepper flakes.  Cook in skillet for 10 minutes until tofu cubes begin to brown.  You'll need to flip the cubes a few times during this process, but be gentle, and try not to break then up too much.  Add more oil if the cubes start to stick.
  4. Add tomatoes, olives, capers, and brine.  Cook for 3 to 5 minutes or until tomatoes start to get soft.
  5. Remove from heat and top with parsley if using.  

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