September is the month that just about everything is in season. A trip to the farmers market this weekend proved the point. Intent foragers crowded the stands, hovering over the mounds of dazzling vegetables and fruits, descending upon the first of Fall’s bounty. (If you didn’t make it to your green market, find out what’s in season with this handy seasonality chart from the Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture).
With such a variety of ingredients to choose from, the dinner dilemma could be overwhelming. So say it with tofu. A blank canvas on which to paint just about any flavors you wish, tofu pairs well with all the vegetables of the rainbow. If you like a soft texture to your protein, choose the silken kind; if meaty is more your style, use the firm or extra-firm kind. Either way, look for organic tofu (in the refrigerated section of your supermarket) and make sure to dry it before cooking to get it nice and crisp (check out my simple instructions on How To Cook Tofu).
Pea shoots are a lovely departure from your average green vegetable, but this preparation gives just about any vegetable dignity — sliced bok choy, endive, or fennel; broccoli or broccolini, pencil-thin asparagus, or baby artichokes. A whole grain will complete the meal – think brown rice, quinoa or couscous. The butter really makes the dish, so I don’t recommend skimping.
The flavor’s all in the pan. It’s up to you to decide what to put in there.
1 tablespoon grapeseed or canola oil
1 (14-ounce) package firm or silken organic tofu, drained and dried (see How To Cook Tofu), cut into 1/4-inch thick slices
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 ounces shiitake or cremini mushrooms, washed (see How To Clean Mushrooms) and sliced thinly
2 large cloves garlic, sliced
4 ounces pea shoots
3 tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces) unsalted butter
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup water
2 sprigs fresh thyme, plus additional for garnish, or 1/2 teaspoon dried
1. Heat a medium pan over medium-high heat. Add the oil and swirl until hot.
2. Season the tofu slices on both sides with salt and pepper. Gently drop them into the pan and cook until browned on one side, approximately 2 minutes. Flip carefully and continue cooking the other side until golden. Remove the slices from the pan to a plate.
3. Add the mushrooms and cook until golden, seasoning with salt and pepper. Add the garlic and cook until beginning to brown. Add the pea shoots and continue to cook until they are bright green and wilted. Transfer the vegetables to the plate with the tofu or to another plate.
4. To the hot pan, add the butter, balsamic vinegar, water, and thyme and simmer for 2-3 minutes until the sauce has reduced to a glaze (there should be enough sauce for about 1-1/2 tablespoons per serving). Add the tofu, pea shoots, and mushrooms and heat until warmed through.
5. Transfer to a serving platter or serving bowls and drizzle extra balsamic glaze over the tofu. Garnish with fresh thyme sprigs.
For another fabulous way to use tofu, try my Radicchio Caesar Salad with Eggless Dressing.
Just 10 days until the September cooking contest closes! Send in your favorite weeknight recipe here!