Thursday, February 5, 2009

Escarole w/ Capers & White Beans; Scrambled Tofu

My day off, and it's a beautiful sunny but cold day, too cold for me to bother going outside. I learned that this morning when I took out the trash and mailed off the money orders for my utility bills. According to weatherunderground.com, at roughly 9:30 this morning, right after I came back in, it was a nippy 17ºF out there. Thankfully I don't have to go anywhere until 6:30AM Saturday, when I go back to work. My to-do list for my two days off this week had umpteen zillion items on it, most of which I've managed to get done. It's a good feeling to be productive, and since I got up around 4:15AM, I had no excuse not to do most of the list, lol. Work was a bit of a pain in the tush this week, but money-wise, it turned out ok, so I'm content with that. And let's face it, the money is the only reason I'm there, I'm not there to get close to my co-workers, especially the ones that have royally pissed me off. Fortunately, most of the time I can bite my tongue and just go on about my business, catching up the work that they can't be bothered to do. And then I come home and cook, lol.

This recipe is from "Veganomicon," by Isa Chandra Moskovits and Terry Hope Romero. Even tho I'd gone thru the book from cover to cover when I took it out of the library, now that I own it, I'm going thru it again, and this time very slowly, reading just about every word in it. So, I came across this Escarole recipe, and decided I'd like to try it, which I did, and really liked it. So here it it:

Escarole with Capers and White Beans

1 head escarole
1Tbs. olive oil
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 red pepper flakes
1/3C capers with some brine
Salt
1C cooked small white beans(navy or great northern are ok)
Lemon wedges for serving

Preheat a large pan over medium heat. Saute the garlic in the olive oil for about 3 minutes, until just starting to brown. Add the red pepper flakes and cook just long enough to soften(a few seconds). Add the escarole and salt to taste, and use tongs to toss until it begins to wilt and release moisture. Add the capers and beans, and cook just until heated through, about 3 more minutes. Serve with lemon wedges.

Serves 4 as a side, or 2 as a main course.

That's the recipe the way Isa and Terry wrote it. Me being me, tho, of course I didn't do it exactly that way, one reason being that I didn't have any escarole. But! I did have quite a bit of frozen spinach, so after rinsing it off to get rid of any freezer burn, that's what I used. Instead of red pepper flakes, which I also didn't have, I used maybe an 8th of a teaspoon of ground red pepper, and probably could've used a quarter teaspoonful, as there was absolutely no bite at all once it was done. I had to also leave out the capers, and instead of lemon wedges, I used lemon juice, quite few shakes out of the bottle. This was good. This was very, very good, and yes, I plan on cooking it again. And again. And again. It goes very well with a baked potato, and some tofu marinated with teriyaki sauce, crumbled, and then fried with a little margarine. I was able to get three meals from this, so it goes a pretty long ways.

This next recipe, Scrambled Tofu, is another of Isa's recipes, and comes from "Vegan with a Vengeance." Totally unlike me, this morning I wanted breakfast, and I don't mean just a bowl of cereal or toast and a banana, either. I wanted real food, and lots of it...like biscuits and gravy and scrambled eggs. It just so happened that I remembered that I had the leftover Tempeh Sausage and White Bean Gravy in the freezer, so I dragged that out and set it to heat in the top of my version of a double boiler: a smaller pot inside a larger pot that had simmering water in it. Works just as well as the fancy-schmancy ones in the big stores, too, I'll have you know. Dragged out my trusty box of biscuit mix, and made a pan of biscuits, but didn't put them in the oven just then. I still needed scrambled eggs. Major problem here: didn't have nary an egg, not one. So, I went to Vegan with a Vengeance, found her recipe, and made the Scrambled Tofu.

Scrambled Tofu

1Tbs. olive oil
1 medium-sized yellow onion, chopped into 1/2-inch chunks
2C thinly sliced cremini mushrooms
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound extra-firm tofu, drained
1/4C nutritional yeast
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 carrot, peeled(optional, I grate it in at the end, mostly for colour)

FOR SPICE BLEND:
2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. dried thyme, crushed with your fingers
1 tsp. ground paprika
1/2tsp. ground turmeric
1 tsp. salt

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Saute the onions for 3 minutes, until softened; add the mushrooms, saute for 5 minutes; add the garlic, saute for 2 minutes. Add the spice blend and mix it up for 15 seconds or so. Add 1/4C water to deglaze the pan, scraping the bottom to get all the garlic and spices.

Crumble in the tofu and mix well. Don't crush the tofu, just kind of lift it and mix it around. You want it to remain chunky. Let cook for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding splashes of water if necessary to keep it from sticking too much. Lower the heat a bit if you find that the tofu is sticking. Add the lemon juice. Add the nutritional yeast and mix it up. If the mixture is sticking to the pan, add splashes of water. The moistness really depends on how much water the tofu was retaining before you added it.

Grate the carrot into the tofu mixture and fold. Serve with guacamole and salso and potatoes and toast and tempeh bacon.

Well, I didn't have it with guacamole and salsa and potatoes and toast and tempeh bacon, lol, but with the tempeh/bean gravy and hot buttered biscuits. The biscuits got put into the oven right at the point where the recipe says to let the tofu cook for 15 minutes, btw. Letting them sit and dry for a few minutes made them rise a little better, and a little softer than usual, very good.

I actually followed this recipe quite well for a change. One thing I changed, tho, was the nutritional yeast. I can't buy it at Kroger, and can't seem to get to a health food store. Now, to my way of thinking, since a lot of times it's used as a kind of cheese substitute, why can't I use vegetarian parmesan cheese instead? So, I tried it, and sure did like it. Don't know if it would work in other recipes calling for "nooch," but it's worth a try another time, I think. Also, I'm not sure what kind of mushrooms I had, but I think they were just plain old white button mushrooms, so that's what I used. They worked just fine. Did I like this? Yes, I did, very much. Will I make it again? Probably not, simply because I'm lazy, and there's more prep work and measuring than I care to do for breakfast, lol. I've scrambled tofu before, with just garlic, black pepper, a little soy sauce, in margarine, and enjoyed that, too. So most likely I'll just take the easy way out in the future.

One comment that Isa made is that,"If you don't have any nutritional yeast on hand, you can still make this, but don't add the water while it's cooking." I never had a problem with the mixture sticking to the pan, so didn't have to add the water anyway.

There's a lot leftover of the tofu, and I'm thinking it might make a good sandwich, or even a wrap with some salsa and vegetarian smoked provolone "cheese." There's still some of the gravy left, and I'm thinking that possibly I can add a few seasoned bread crumbs, and make "sausage patties" from it. Maybe.

Until next time, Happy Eating.

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