January Smackdown – Battle Tofu

We start the culinary year, thanks to Anonymous Boxer, with a real challenge–Battle Tofu. This ingredient was recently used as a deciding factor in a culinary battle on The Next Iron Chef, so I watched that episode with great interest.  I confess to never having cooked anything with tofu and only eating it in hot and sour soup. I don’t mind tofu, the texture isn’t off-putting to me, but it’s so bland that it’s a real challenge to try to figure out what to do with it–and Tofurkey was right out!

So, I did what any good, aspiring smackdown contestant would do–I grabbed Bittman’s “How To Cook Everything Vegetarian” and started reading.  I learned a lot about tofu before I ever went to the store to buy any. Then my little wheels started turning.  Most everything I’ve seen, read, eaten of tofu has been on the Asian side.  I decided I wanted to do something decidedly different.  After perusing the book and running around the Internet for a while, I decided on my entry for this one: Pizza with tofu pesto for the sauce and marinated tofu as a topping. Tofu Italiano! And two ways on one dish!  Can’t get better than that, right? So, before I did anything, I roasted some garlic:

You just never know when you might need to toss some roasted garlic cloves in something, so better to have them on hand.  Then, I had to prepare the tofu:

This package was enough for both of my purposes.  I cut the block in half, left half of it in a container of water and pressed the other half per Bittman’s instructions. I wanted to get as much water out of it, and have it quite firm for slicing and marinating.  I set it up and then we were off this morning to run errands:

Afterward, the paper towels were saturated and the tofu was much drier and quite firm:

Then, I  made a marinade with about 3 of the roasted garlic cloves, some really good balsamic vinegar, some dried basil tops/flowers from the garden this past summer, a bit of fleur de sel, and olive oil:

And in went the sliced tofu:

While that  marinated, I made the tofu pesto.  I found this recipe online at Eating Well, and I like it.  I would make it or a variation of it, for a low-calorie, low-fat dip or again for pizza sauce.  It’s quite easy:

1-1/2 cups fresh basil leaves (I didn’t use this many, just a small package from the store)
1/2 cup silken tofu (firm works fine)
1/4 c pine nuts (I did not use these, pine nuts taste metallic to me)
1 Tbl evoo
1 clove garlic (I used 4 roasted)
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 Parmesan cheese

Put all the ingredient in a food processor and process until you get a spreadable consistency:

With the pizza sauce made and the tofu marinating, I moved on to making the pizza dough. This recipe comes from one of my favorite cookbooks, “Fields of Greens”, given to me as a gift long ago and still cherished.  It makes a perfect dough for a 15″ pizza, and I just happen to have a round pan. In the interest of brevity, I won’t post the recipe, but if you want it, e-mail me and I’ll send it to you.

With the tofu pesto sauce:

Then I assembled the rest of the pizza.  I laid down a layer of baby spinach, then added the tofu:

Then I sliced up about half a zucchini, a few mushrooms and added some dried yellow pear tomatoes from last summer’s garden:

I topped it with a bit of mozzarella, popped it in the oven and about 12 minutes later…voila!

A friend of ours just happened to drop by just as I was taking this out of the oven, so she got a piping hot piece and pronounced it “awesome”.  G liked it too. 😉

And there you have it, Two-Way Tofu Italiano Pizza!  I just ate a piece cold and I have to say, that is pretty darn good pizza.  So, get yourself some tofu and get creative!

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14 thoughts on “January Smackdown – Battle Tofu

  1. No, I decided not to use any nuts at all, partly because a couple of friends have nut allergies, and they could use this recipe.

  2. Hey!!! This is really great. I also make pesto out of tofu and use it as a spread on a bagel or crackers. But I never thought of using that on pizza and/or putting tofu on pizza. I’m super impressed with you.

    Thanks for your entry.

  3. Thanks, Boxer!!! 🙂 This really was a great challenge because it made me think outside the box. It was a lot of fun.

  4. Pingback: Literary Smackdown–Inspired by (Non-Cook) Books « Grumpy Granny

  5. Pingback: Happy May Day! | Grumpy Granny

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