Sunday, September 04, 2011

Eat: Maiden Voyage with Tofu

Mexican Eggplant with Tofu. As soon as I spotted this recipe I knew my husband would love it. The name alone features three things that Matt adores. I also thought it presented a nice challenge since I had never before cooked with tofu.

This marked my second attempt at a Zorba Paster recipe. In case you are unfamiliar, Paster is a physician and the host of WPR’s Zorba Paster on Your Health. Quick synopsis: listeners call in to ask a plethora of questions which Zorba answers in humor-laced laymen terms. He also offers a healthy, unique recipe at the end of each show. For all of you St. Louisans, the show airs on Sundays at 1:00pm. I love public radio and take any opportunity I can to endorse it! This recipe and others like it can be found on Zorba Paster's website

But I digress. Here is the recipe:

TIME: 1 hour (including prep and baking)
YIELDS: 9 servings
MY SOUNDTRACK: Devendra Banhart, TRON movie soundtrack (this odd combination came courtesy of my husband)

1 large eggplant
1 carton of tofu*
12 oz. tomato sauce
1 can of green chilies (alternatives: fresh onion or serrano chilies)
¼ cup scallions, sliced
1 tsp garlic powder
1 ½ tsp cumin
2 tsp olive or vegetable oil
8 oz. cheddar cheese, shredded
Cooking spray (or butter)

Right off the bat, one thing struck me as problematic: How much tofu?! The original recipe simply says a "carton" which can come in every shape and size. Fotunately, the grocery store only offered one amount (14oz.). Unfortunately, upon entry to the organic food aisle I found myself staring a shelf of several different kinds of tofu. I was at a loss and spent several minutes hemming and hawing. In the end, my moderate roots won the day and I selected the carton marked "regular". I cannot say whether or not this was the best choice but I can tell you that it worked well enough.

Begin by slicing the tofu (it will be in a large block) into half-inch pieces or slabs. Place the slices in between a few sheets of paper towel on your countertop. In order to drain the excess fluid, put something large and heavy on top (such as a cutting board).

Slice the eggplant into half-inch rounds. Arrange slices on a coated cookie sheet and bake at 450° for 20 minutes (flipping pieces after 10 minutes).

While eggplant is baking, combine tomato sauce, scallions, green chilies, garlic powder, and cumin into a sauce pan. Simmer for 20 minutes.

To further strengthen your multi-tasking skills, saute the tofu in oiled skillet while the sauce is simmering.

Once everything is ready, coat a 9x13 inch baking dish with cooking spray or butter. Layer the eggplant, tofu, sauce and cheese. Repeat for a second layer.

Bake for 30 minutes at 350° and enjoy with a side of brown rice!

*As mentioned, I used one 14 oz. carton but I would recommend at least twice that amount.

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