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!