03 February 2008

weekend recipe

Jessica asked in comments of an earlier post whether I'd share some of my vegetarian recipes, and that gave me the idea to start a new feature. So I'm launching Weekend Recipes today. I chose weekends because that's when I have the most time to be ambitious and experimental in the kitchen. I'll post a good number of vegetarian recipes, I suspect, but I'm not going to limit myself. Today, though, I'm kicking off the series with a newly-discovered (by us) vegetarian dish that met with pretty immediate success in our house.

I hope I don't scare people away with my first choice. I don't know where this recipe came from originally, but an acquaintance of mine posted it on the message board for the nursery school James went to. It looks weird on paper (or should I say the computer screen) but it's delicious. It's quick, it's easy, and it centers around tofu.

I know, I know. Tofu. Most meat-eaters I know have a pronounced distaste, some even a touch of hostility, for tofu, and I can't for the life of me explain it or understand it. Tofu is cheap, healthy, versatile, and basically soaks up the flavor of whatever you put it into. You can even change the texture depending on how you prepare it. I have become a fan of tofu over the last few years, and, in this dish at least, my family has grown to like it too.

Recipe and notes below the fold.

Groundnut Stew, or Peanut Butter Tofu

2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. tumeric
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. coriander
1/2 tsp. mustard seed
dash of cinnamon
dash of cardamom**
28 oz. can of tomatoes, undrained****
1/2-1 c water
1/2 c peanut butter (smooth, or crunchy for more texture)
1 block firm tofu, cubed

Saute onion, garlic, salt and spices in olive oil, just for a few minutes, until onion and garlic are softened.

Add tomatoes and enough water so that a little water sits on top. (If you opt to leave out the tomatoes, you'll probably need a little more water.)

Add the peanut butter in the center, and slowly stir from the center until it combines well with the water.

Gently stir in tofu.

Cover & reduce heat to low, stirring every 5 min. for 15 - 20 min. Turn off heat and leaved covered until served. Serve over rice.

**Note on spices: This is a pretty flexible recipe. Use whatever of these spices you have around the house -- i.e., don't rush out and buy cardamom just for this recipe. It's the combination of spices, not the individual spices, that is important here.

****Note on tomatoes: This is kind of a weird combination of flavors. It works for me, but Greg and the boys like it better without the tomatoes. Use your own judgment here.

We usually serve vegetables or a salad on the side, but I think it would work well to throw in some broccoli or spinach or something in the last few minutes of cooking if you want to get creative. Also, for the tofu-averse among you, I'm told this works well with chicken, too.

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