I can tell you a sure-fire way to have your spouse/partner/significant other/friend tell you that your food is absolutely delicious.
Have them do a cleanse.
Randy has been talking about doing a cleanse for about 6 months now. I have been wary. He tends to be a bit hypoglycemic, meaning if he does not eat when he is hungry, he is not all that pleasant to be around. I have been in more than one restaurant frantically waving down someone to bring bread as he turns pale. So, the idea of him basically eating just fruit or vegetables all day was a little frightening.
Every cleanse is different and the one he is doing allows him to eat a “sensible” meal at night. This basically means vegan and gluten free which is not a stretch for me at all. It took me about five minutes to come up with several dinners for the week. I have made some tasty meals the past few nights but you would think I was a Michelin three star chef based on Randy’s reactions to the food. So there is a good tip for you, starve your partner all day and they will think you are the best cook around!
Here is a dish that totally pushed me out of my tofu-with-Asian-food rut. I know people have strong feelings about our little bean curd friend, but I have always liked tofu and welcome the opportunity to use it more. When people ask me about tofu, I always give them two suggestions – make sure you buy extra firm and don’t expect it to taste like steak. It might sound obvious but I do think that people are looking for a meat replacement and tofu is not that. Tofu is tofu, a relatively tasteless brick of protein. Using extra firm helps with that texture issue (it is not mushy) and making a dish like this one allows something tasteless on its own to become super tasty.
So rather than the flavors of coconut milk, soy sauce, and sesame oil, this tofu soaks up the flavors of white wine, olives, and red wine vinegar. I took this idea from Deborah Madison and made some changes. I streamlined some of the baking, lightened up the sauce and added a bed of quinoa for the vegetables and tofu to sleep on. If you look at this and think, “Tofu? Quinoa? Why not just put me out in a field and let me graze?” I beg you to give it another thought. I thought this made for a very tasty dinner and Randy thought it was the single most delicious thing he had ever put in his mouth. Thank you cleanse!
The Tofu and Vegetables
1 pound extra firm tofu, cut into thin triangles or slabs
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. dried basil
½ tsp. dried marjoram
¼ cup chopped parsley
3 bell peppers – red, yellow, and green – thinly sliced
8 ounces mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 garlic cloves, minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ cup dry white wine
20 Niçoise olives, pitted and halved
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 tbsp. tomato paste
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
2 garlic cloves, minced
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp. soy sauce
2 tbsp. warm water
¾ cup quinoa
Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Rinse the quinoa in a fine-mesh sieve (if you buy Bob’s Red Mill brand, you don’t need to do this). Add the rinsed quinoa and water to a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to low, cover, and allow to cook for 20 minutes. Fluff with fork, then replace cover and set aside.
Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add just enough olive oil to coat the bottom, then add the onions along with a large pinch of salt and sauté enough to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the herbs, peppers, tofu, mushrooms, and garlic and cook until the onions are very soft and the tofu starts to sear a bit on the outside, stirring occasionally, about 14 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the wine and olives and simmer until the vegetables are coated with a syrupy sauce, about 8 minutes.
Spread the quinoa in an 8×11-inch baking dish. Spread the vegetable and tofu mixture over top. Whisk together the ingredients for the sauce and pour the sauce over top. Bake, covered, until heated through, about 25 minutes. Serve with Sriracha if you like things spicy.