Friday, June 3, 2011

Sesame-Crusted Tofu Sticks with Vegetable Saute

Tonight you're getting a main dish, an accompanying side dish, and even a quick dessert for good measure.  Enjoy!

For the tofu:
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 Ener-G eggs
  • 1 cup dry breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 1 (15-ounce) package extra-firm tofu
  • 2 tablespoons dark sesame oil, divided
For the vegetables:
  • 3/4 cup pineapple juice
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/2 cup chopped shallots
  • 1 minced garlic clove
  • 1/2 pound shiitake mushroom caps (about 10 caps)
  • 2 cups (2-inch) sliced green onions
  • 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sweet and sour sauce*
1. To start, combine the salt, black pepper, and Ener-G eggs in a shallow dish; set aside.  Combine the breadcrumbs, flour, and sesame seeds in a second shallow dish.  Drain the package of tofu and cut into 18 sticks.

Note: cut the block of tofu in half width-wise, then make 9 cuts cross-wise.  If that doesn't make sense, see my photo below for a quick visual.

2. Working with 1 tofu piece at a time, dip in the Ener-G mixture, then dredge in the breadcrumbs.  Repeat with the remaining tofu pieces. Give each tofu piece a second dip in the Ener-G mixture and a second dredging in the breadcrumb mixture.

3. Heat 1 tablespoon sesame oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add 9 tofu pieces, and cook for 4 minutes, turning so they brown on all sides.  Remove from the pan.  Repeat with the remaining 1 tablespoon sesame oil and the remaining tofu pieces; keep warm while you prepare the vegetables.

4. To prepare the vegetables, pour the pineapple juice into a pan.  Bring to a boil, then continue to cook for 5 minutes, until reduced to about 1/4 cup.  Set aside.

5. Heat a pan coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat.  Add the shallots, garlic, and shiitake mushrooms; saute for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the green onions, tomatoes, and thyme; cook for 1 minute.  Stir in the reduced pineapple juice and balsamic vinegar; cook for a final 30 seconds.

6. Arrange 1/2 cup vegetable mixture on each of 6 plates.  Top each serving with 3 tofu sticks.  Drizzle each serving with 1/2 teaspoon of the sweet and sour sauce.  This dish will be best served immediately.

To round out the meal, I just added hot cooked long-grain rice on the side.  Playing off the pineapple juice flavor in the main dish, try this broiled pineapple recipe for a second side dish or for dessert: peel, quarter, and core 1 whole pineapple.  Combine 1/4 cup vegan brown sugar and 3 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lime juice in a large zip-top plastic bag.  Add the pineapple pieces; seal and shake to coat.  Place the pineapple on a baking sheet and broil for 8 minutes, turning over halfway through.  Slice the pineapple, and divide the slices evenly among 6 plates.  Sprinkle each serving with 1 tablespoon toasted coconut. (Note: you can quickly toast flaked coconut by sprinkling on a baking sheet and baking at 350 degrees for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently so it doesn't burn). 

*Sweet and sour sauce was the only ingredient that posed some vegan difficulty - most versions on the market are sweetened with honey. I was delighted, however, when I stumbled across Steel's agave nectar-sweetened version.  If your local grocery store doesn't carry it, you can order it online from places like Vitacost or Amazon.

Nutrition Info:
6 servings (3 tofu sticks, 1/2 cup vegetables), Calories 253 

Tasting Notes:
The tofu sticks were great - almost like a mozzarella stick, in fact, with the crisp breaded exterior and soft warm interior.  I loved the flavor from the sesame seeds, which was even stronger than I expected.  The vegetables fell a little flat - I thought the pineapple flavor needed to be stronger, and I would have liked more shiitake and cherry tomatoes, and less green onion.  I'm glad I served this with rice on the side, or it wouldn't have been substantial enough for a full dinner. 


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