Showing posts with label cajun. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cajun. Show all posts

Jun 7, 2015

cajun pasta + coconut-crusted tofu

Making your own, quick Cajun spice mix will allow you to control what actually goes into the mix, the amount of spice it will contain and save you a few bucks. This pasta dish comes together fairly quickly, including pan-frying the coconut-crusted tofu, which reminds me of coconut shrimp from my pre-veg days.

This fresh tomato based sauce reminds me of Hungarian lecso or Latin sofrito, both of which are covered in recipes in my upcoming cookbook, Vegan Bowls (Amazon, B&N). I adore this way of making sauces as it is both flavorful and a snap to prepare. The most important ingredient in the process is patience.

As for the tofu, I am thrilled to have found an easy way to dredge and crust an ingredient without the batter dissolving before being cooked. I didn't try baking it, but am planning on attempting to do so in the future.

Finally, since I received some pedron peppers in my CSA last week, they had to make it onto the plate. I preheated my toasted oven and baked them on 400 for about 5 minutes, until they blistered. You could also quickly fry them in the same pan after all the tofu is cooked. Pedrons have very thin skin so they cook fast. Incidentally, they are delicious!

Cajun Pasta with Coconut-crusted Tofu
Serves 4

12 ounces pasta, cooked al dente, drained and reserving 1 cup of cooking water

Spice Mix:
1 ½ teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon white pepper
¼ to 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 large red bell pepper, thinly sliced
2 celery ribs, chopped
3 medium tomatoes, chopped
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup vegetable broth
2 teaspoons spice mix (above)
1 cup reserved pasta water

¾ cups arrowroot starch or cornstarch, divided
½ cup vegetable broth
2 cups unsweetened coconut flakes, blended for 10 seconds in a blender
2 teaspoons spice mix (above)
1 (14-ounces) package firm or extra firm tofu, pressed, cut into ½-inch slices
4 tablespoons neutral oil

1. Spice Mix: Combine the salt, paprika, garlic, onion, pepper and cayenne in a small bowl. Set aside.

2. Sauce: Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, bell pepper and celery. Cover and cook until tender, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and garlic and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes are broken down, about 10 more minutes. Add the vegetable broth and spice mix. Cook until the broth evaporates, about 4 more minutes. Add the pasta and pasta water. Stir and cook until the pasta is heated through and well coated with the sauce.

3. Tofu: Combine ½ cup of the starch and broth in a shallow dish. Combine the coconut flakes, ¼ cup of the starch and spice mix in a separate shallow dish. Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Dredge the tofu in the wet mixture and then in the coconut mixture. Fry the tofu until golden brown, about 1 minute per side. Drain on paper towels.

4. Assembly: Serve the pasta with the tofu. Sprinkle the dish with more spice mix, as desired.

© 2015 Copyright Zsu Dever. All rights reserved.

Dec 13, 2012

cajun tofu over celey root puree

Celery Root makes a delectable, light and airy, puree, one tasting exactly like celery, but without any strings attached, so to speak. The root vegetable can be off-putting because of its thick, wrinkly, outer skin, but considering the amount of time the root spends underground, the thickness and gnarliness makes sense. It is easy to remove the skin using a sharp chef's knife, peeling it as you would a grapefruit or cantaloupe - should the urge strike you to peel one of those fruits. 

Cut away the thick skin, dice the root and then simmer it in almond milk until tender. After pureeing the veggie, it is necessary to pass it though a fine mesh strainer to remove the parts of the skin that your knife will miss cutting out; the root is very wrinkly and the folds of the skin are everywhere. Once you have tackled the peeling, pureeing and straining, it is clear sailing. You can allow the puree to cool and reheat it with no problem, given that there is no starch to gum up your gorgeous velvety puree, unlike with a potato.

I served this unique puree with Cajun Tofu because the spiciness of the seasonings was wonderfully foiled by the subtlety and sweetness of the celeriac. Adding a bit of olive oil on top of the grilled tofu allows the flavors of the spices to meld with the puree and gives the dish that needed richness that one expects from a dish that uses Celery Root Puree.

Cost Breakdown

celeriac: $6
spices, oil, herbs, milk: $2
tofu: $3
green beans: $3
   Total to make 6 servings: