03 January 2013

Herb-Crusted Tofu and Mushroom Gravy

Happy New Year, my few loyal readers! We had a lovely holiday season and I certainly hope you all did as well! We're now back home and preparing for the spring semester (which starts Monday for Shana and Jan 16th for me). Although it's likely you've been doing so already, why not try to incorporate more meatless meals into your routine. One or two nights a week is totally do-able and I know where you can get some awesome recipes. ;)

I mentioned a while back that when Shana and I do our weekly meal plan, we sit down with our list of dinners we like. Normally, this list is all we need to make our weekly meal plan, but every once in a while, nothing on our meal plan looks appealing to me. I suppose that's why I have a decent number of cookbooks and why I have stacks of recipes ripped out of Vegetarian Times Magazine (and a few from random other places as well). This week (and next, but don't tell Shana), I decided we should do something new since I'm home and the semester hasn't started. I went through my stacks, pulled out a few things that sounded interesting, presented them to Shana, and a new recipe was picked.

We were both a little nervous about this one, as it was stretching our food boundaries a bit. Here's a little secret: I'm vegan but I'm not really a fan of mushrooms. It's unusual, I know. I mean, the taste is fine. But the texture... I just don't know. Shana feels the same, only more strongly than I do. However, I'd always liked portobello mushrooms; Shana, not so much. While in Minnesota, a friend brought over salad to share for a dinner and it had baby portobellos on it. Shana was, somehow, convinced to try one, and liked it! This new development, in combination with the fact that we both feel like we should be eating mushrooms, sparked this recipe attempt. I was skeptical while looking at the ingredients, but it turned out to be delicious!

Seriously amazing

Herb-Crusted Tofu with Mushroom Gravy
This recipe came from the January 2006 issue of Vegetarian Times and was submitted by a reader named Suchitra Swift. Thanks Suchitra! I modified it ever so slightly.

Ingredients
1, 16 oz. package of extra-firm water-packed tofu
1/2 c. cornstarch
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 c. vegetable oil
1 small onion, minced
2 T. olive oil
<1/2 tsp. dried sage
4 oz. baby bellas (or about 5 button mushrooms, if you prefer)
1/2 c. veggie broth
2 tsp. cornstarch

Directions
1. Drain and press the tofu for a good 20 minutes or so. Then cut it into 6 slices.
2. Make the Herb Crust by combining the 1/2 c. cornstarch, salt, Italian seasoning, garlic, pepper, and cayenne in a flat bowl big enough to lay one slice of tofu in at a time.
It doesn't look like much, does it?
3. Make the gravy by sauteing the onions in the olive oil until lightly browned, then add sage, mushrooms, and broth until the mushrooms are tender.
4. Meanwhile, heat the 1/2 c. veggie oil in a large skillet over fairly high heat. Dredge each slice of tofu in the herb crust and place in the oil. Cook 4-5 minutes per side, but be careful as this will burn over very high heat. Drain on paper towels.
5. When the mushrooms are tender, mix the 2 tsp. cornstarch with 1/4 c. cold water then add to the broth mixture, whisking to combine, until thick.

Helpful Hints
  • We served this with mashed potatoes and red swiss chard using the recipe for simple garlicky greens from Nava Atlas's Wild About Greens cookbook. While this was delicious, it was a LOT happening at the same time and used all four of my burners. I'd recommend some roasted veggies instead, as that would have been far easier to deal with. 
  • I blended the entire pot of gravy by pouring it into a tall cup and using my immersion blender. The mushroomy-ness was enough without adding in chunks. If you blend it like I do, the cornstarch isn't necessary. You can use it, but the broth to solid ratio makes a lovely texture when you blend it, even without the cornstarch. 
  • The original recipe for the gravy called for 2 tsp. dried rosemary (Shana doesn't like rosemary). In addition, we generally like gravy so I doubled it (the amounts above are for a single batch of gravy). However, without the mashed potatoes, it doesn't need to be doubled. 
  • We cut the tofu the short way, which made the slices thicker. If you want it to be crunchier all the way through, cut the tofu the long way instead. 

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