August 2, 2011

Meatless Monday: Adventures in Tofu

Yes, in a bout of complete non-originality, MG and I have joined the Meatless Monday bandwagon.* Or, I guess I should say, we officially joined the bandwagon, because we've been accidentally having Meatless Random Days of the Week for a while now. I honestly can't tell you how that began - I think it probably stems from last summer, when we started getting produce delivered and were suddenly confronted with having to consume a ridiculous amount of veggies in a pretty short period of time. This forced inspired us to research some new recipes, and that, compounded with our efforts to not buy meat unless it's on sale, led to quite a few days without any meat on the menu.

Recently, however, I read several articles about the impact that going meat-free for one day a week can have on the environment. So, we decided that we'd do what we'd more or less been doing, and just be a little more consistent and deliberate about it. I mean, it's cost-saving, healthier and environmentally-friendly. Plus, it's just so alliterative!

So, today marked our first official Meatless** Monday (tomorrow will be Meatless Tuesday by default, since I'm having the same things to eat).

Today's menu consisted of a fantastic beet, walnut and goat cheese salad for lunch, and Spicy Eggplant and Tofu for dinner. The eggplant dish was especially fun to make because I got to use some green peppers and fairytale eggplants from our balcony garden, and because it was the first time I cooked with tofu and miso paste.

From our balcony garden!

The component parts.

Also from the balcony garden! This never stops being amazing to me.

Where the protein comes from.

Marinating away.

So THAT'S what miso paste looks like. Things I didn't know before last night.

The marinade was a mixture of miso paste, teriyaki, soy sauce, Szechuan sauce, pineapple juice, ginger and garlic.  The flavors were fantastic, although I definitely ended up adding more Szechuan sauce than the original recipe called for - it was more "warm" than spicy. (We also had our good old Sriracha at the table).  Next time I might add some crushed red pepper flakes, as well. Otherwise, the only thing I would do differently is press the tofu (the Internet said you didn't have to if it was firm!) But it was a little softer than I'd like.  I loved the way this turned out, and since eggplant is one of my top three favorite summer vegetables, I'll definitely be making this one again.

The finished product!

Hope you enjoy this for Meatless Monday or any day of the week!

Spicy Roasted Eggplant and Tofu with Sesame and Honey
Adapted from The Whole Foods Market Cookbook

Serves 4
2 medium eggplants (or 6 small eggplants), cut into 3/4-inch cubes (about 4 cups)
1 lb firm tofu, drained and cut into 1-inch cubes
3 tbsp white or red miso paste (I used white)
1/8 cup tamari or soy sauce (I used soy sauce)
1/4 cup water
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1/8 cup grated fresh ginger (about a 2-inch piece)
1 cup canned pineapple juice
1/8 cup teriyaki sauce
2 tsp toasted sesame oil
1/4 cup white sesame seeds
1/4 cup cider vinegar
3 tbsp honey
1 tsp Szechuan sauce (or to taste)
3/4 tsp salt (or to taste)
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 large red or green bell pepper (or 3 baby ones from your garden!), seeded and diced
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro (optional)

Preheat oven to 450F.

For the marinade:
In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, water, garlic, ginger, pineapple juice, teriyaki sauce, sesame oil, sesame seeds, cider vinegar, honey and Szechuan sauce. Whisk in the miso paste until blended.

For the eggplant and tofu:
In a large mixing bowl, toss the eggplant and tofu with 1 and 1/4 cups of the miso marinade, salt and pepper.  Cover with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 20 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the eggplant and tofu to two nonstick baking sheets. Reserve the excess marinade. 

Bake for 15-20 minutes until the eggplant and tofu are browned, but the eggplant is still somewhat firm. Allow the eggplant and tofu to cool on the pan for about 10 minutes, then add it back into the large bowl with the excess marinade, bell pepper and cilantro, if using. Mix well. 

Serve with steamed white or brown rice, and the additional marinade as sauce (and, if you like things on the spicier side, Sriracha or your hot sauce of choice).

 *Fun fact! According to Wikipedia, the FDA coined the term "Meatless Monday" during World War I in an effort to reduce consumption of certain foods to aid the war effort.  So, apparently the bandwagon originally looked like this:

Photo credit: Early Cars by Michael Sedgewick via Old Woodies

**For now, this means meat and meat products (like broth, stock and lard). Although some people are going egg/dairy-free too, we aren't there yet, and may not ever be. I definitely had my yogurt this afternoon.

For more reading on Meatless Monday, check out these articles:
More Weight on Less Meat by Mark Bittman (NY
The Meat Eater's Guide to Climate Change and Health via Climate Change: 3 Proteins with a Big Carbon Footprint (TheKitchn)


  1. Yum! If you ever need any meatless recipes, you need only ask! I swear I eat delicious food most days of the week.

  2. I'm always on the look-out for meatless recipes! Do you have any that you think we absolutely must try?