Summer Fried Tofu with Roasted Vegetables

Some people may run at the mere mention of tofu. It's gelatinous texture, it's lack of flavor can easily ruin a dish. I don't eat tofu often, and when I do, I like to add it to dishes to increase their nutritional content without taking away from their flavor (Feisty Green Beans is a great example of this). This dish is a rarity; it forces tofu into the spotlight. Why would I do something so daring? I had half a package of tofu left over from making Feisty Green Beans and didn't want it to go to waste. Simple.

The key to making tofu work on its own is not to leave it alone. Tofu has no flavor; you must add flavor. Imagine the possibilities! Another key is to prepare the tofu properly to avoid a potentially off-putting texture. For a dish like this, ideally, you want to use extra-firm tofu and press it for 15-30 minutes. However, I didn't have that kind of time. So, after I sliced the tofu into 1/4 inch slabs, I used a towel and pressed the excess moisture out if it. This does a couple of things. Most importantly, it removes the flavorless moisture so that the flavorful moisture can be absorbed. And secondly, it helps the tofu's outside become crispy when frying.

Another thing to remember when forcing tofu into the spotlight is that you must love your marinade. This is the only flavor you will taste, so make sure it is perfect. For this dish, I mixed about 1/4 cup olive oil with 1/4 cup lemon juice. I stirred in 1/4 medium onion (minced), salt, pepper, and about 1/4 teaspoon of cumin and paprika. I let the tofu sit in the marinade for about 40 minutes while I made the roasted vegetables. Then, I heated a cast iron pan and added about 3 tablespoons of oil (if your cast iron pan is seasoned better than mine, you can reduce the amount of oil). Once the oil was hot (medium-high heat), I added the slabs of tofu and moved them around to make sure they weren't sticking. Cook for about 3-5 minutes on each side, or until the tofu is browned. Also, be sure to wear an apron when frying tofu like this. Tofu likes to spit oil, oftentimes onto your shirt.

The roasted vegetables were delicious. I used really fresh red potatoes, and that made a big difference. If you don't have summer squash, you can use tomatoes, asparagus, or carrots, just to name a few ideas. I doused this dish in cilantro after I pulled it from the oven and that made the lemon juice sing. 

Check out my fabulous new chef's knife my loving husband gave me for my birthday! My other knife was dangerously dull and could no longer hold a sharp edge. Look how nicely this knife chopped the cilantro!

Summer Roasted Vegetables
Serves 3

4 small red potatoes, scrubbed, chopped into 1/2 inch chunks
1/4 medium onion, sliced thinly
3 garlic cloves, sliced
1-2 summer squash, chopped into 1/2 inch chunks
1 teaspoon dried sage
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
about 2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.   
  2. Add the potatoes, onion, garlic, sage, butter, salt and pepper to a casserole dish. Stir well so that the butter and spices are evenly dispersed on the potatoes.
  3. Place dish, uncovered, in the oven and bake for 20 minutes.
  4. Add the summer squash to the potatoes. Stir well, then bake for another 15 minutes.
  5. When the veggies are done, remove from the oven and stir in the fresh cilantro. Enjoy!

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