We’re trying to eat less meat at our house. We love meat, we really do, but we know it’s better for our health, the health of the planet, and the health of our pocketbook to consume less. (Have you read Mark Bittman’s Food Matters? I highly recommend it for great insight on this subject, without drifting into dogma.)
So, as usual, I take this as an excuse to do some research by buying some new cookbooks. So far, I’ve found two vegetarian cookbooks I love. One is Mediterranean Harvest by Martha Rose Shulman, and the other is Fresh & Fast Vegetarian by Marie Simmons.
We’ll talk about Mediterranean Harvest in another post, but the dish I made last week from Marie Simmons new book is stuck in my head like a verse from a pop song. In fact, I’ve already made it a second time, to try out a couple of variations. Marie’s new book is very unassuming. It’s a paperback and hasn’t met with a lot of critical acclaim the way some books do. In fact, I only found it because I was browsing the Powell’s website where I stumbled upon it and remembered meeting Marie almost 14 years ago.
How do I know it was 14 years? Because Joey, our first baby had just been born. Marie was one of the media guests (I believe she was a food columnist for a major paper at the time) at the International Pinot Noir Celebration. In those days I was the Executive Director of that wonderful event and of course got to know her in the weeks leading up to her visit. I enjoyed her very much when she finally arrived for the event. That is, until I was whisked off to the hospital because I was in hard labor. Yes indeed, my darling Joey was born right on his due date. We really thought he’d wait a little bit and show up a little late, after the three-day event was over. Not so. But again, we’ll save that story for another post.
I recall that when Marie got back to the east coast after her Oregon visit, she sent us a lovely baby gift. It was a sky blue romper with hand-painted clouds on it. Joey must have worn it a lot, because I remember it well.
So there you have it, a lovely and gracious woman who has written a very inviting and immensely practical vegetarian cookbook. I recommend it highly. Thank you Marie.
Tofu with Roasted Eggplant and Curried Tomato Sauce
This is the way I made the dish the second time. I added the mushrooms, tweaked the spices a bit and skipped searing the tofu, as she calls for in the original. It was such a hit that I am sending it to our Wine Club members with a bottle of our 2009 Big Fire Pinot Noir – a combo that really rocks. I love it when this happens!
Serve this over brown rice or quinoa.
1 block (16 oz.) medium or firm tofu, drained
1 can (28 ounces) diced or whole tomatoes (I like the Muir Glen Fire Roasted ones)
2 ½ t Madras Curry Powder
2 garlic cloves, grated
2 teaspoons grated peeled fresh ginger
1 cinnamon stick (2 – 3 inches long)
½ teaspoon coarse salt
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
12 slices (1/2 inch thick) peeled eggplant – about 1½ pounds
8 oz. crimeni mushrooms, halved or quartered if large
2 -3 T chopped fresh cilantro
4 T extra virgin olive oil
Place a large baking sheet in the oven and preheat to 450° for 10 minutes.
Slice the block of tofu into ¾ inch thick slices. Arrange the slices on a folded dish towel, cover with a second folded towel and press down gently but firmly with the palm of your hand for 30 seconds to remove excess moisture. Let the tofu sit there between the towels while you do the rest of the prep.
Puree the tomatoes using a food mill or a processor. Pour the puree into a large skillet and bring to a boil. Add ½ cup water, the curry powder, garlic, ginger, cinnamon stick, salt and crushed red pepper. Cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thickened – about15 minutes. At this point you can just turn off the heat and let the sauce sit there till you are ready for it, you don’t want it to reduce too much.
While the sauce is cooking, lightly brush the eggplant slices on both sides with olive oil. Carefully remove the hot pan from the oven and arrange the oiled eggplant slices in a single layer. Return the pan to the oven and roast for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, on another sheet pan, toss the mushrooms with a little more olive oil and salt and pepper. Add to the oven, turn the eggplant and continue to roast for another 10 minutes, till the vegetables are lightly browned.
Add the roasted vegetables and the tofu to the pan with the tomato sauce. Toss all together and cook, covered, over low heat until warmed through, about 10 minutes. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve.