Tofu Provencal

In recipe on October 1, 2009 at 7:20 pm

Tofu is a tricky beast. The first time I had it, in my pre-veg days, it was served raw, sitting on a bed of vegetables. It looked and felt like a slimy wet hand that you have to shake, and tasted like… well, nothing.

For a long time I thought that I actually hated tofu, and didn’t really give it a chance. Now, I am a little more experienced with it, but still find oftentimes that many recipes call for a deep frying, or baking. My favorite tofu dish (below!) embraces the texture of tofu without having to fry it in lots of oil.

This Tofu Provencal from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian is perfect for that because the tofu plumps up and remains kind of mooshy, in a way that totally works with the texture of the olives. First time I made it, I was like, “IS MY TOFU GOING TO BE COOKED ENOUGH? WILL I DIE?” But then I realized, duh, that’s one of the benefits of not eating meat: you really have to try to poison yourself!

I’ve served with orzo and with mashed potatoes. Either way, it’s a good and easy meal, and makes good leftovers.

2 tbls extra virgin olive oil
1 tbl minced garlic
1 large or 2 med onions, chopped
Large pinch saffron threads (option)
1 tsp fresh marjoram, oregano, or thyme (or 1/4 tsp dried)
2 tbl drained capers
2 c chopped tomato (canned is fine) with juices
1 c black or green olives (good quality, pitted)
1 1/2 – 2 pounds extra-firm tofu, pressed and/or blotted dry
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Chopping fresh parsley for garnish

Put the oil in a large, deep skillet, preferably non-stick, over medium heat. When hot, add the garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until it begins to take on some color, just a minute or so. Add the onions and the bell pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the saffron, herb, and capers and stir, then add the tomato and olives. Stir, bring to a boil, and cook until the sauce thickens a bit, about 10 minutes.

Add the tofu and cook, stirring once or twice, until it’s swollen slightly and heated through, about 5 minutes. Taste and add salt if necessary and plenty of black pepper. Garnish and serve.

  1. […] Bad move–it added probably 20 minutes to the cooking time. I have learned the hard way with tofu – it needs time and space to crisp properly and get that delightful golden-brown color. Else you’ll end up with poached tofu (not bad if that’s what you are going for). […]

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