I haven’t talked about it much, and I suppose it’s because this is not that kind of blog. This blog is about baking and being silly and making mistakes and eating them anyway, because even if they’re not pretty, they still taste delicious. But sometimes, it’s about other things, too. Just to keep things interesting.
What I mean to say is, I haven’t talked much about my choices on consumption. You see, I’m mostly vegetarian. (“Mostly vegetarian?” you ask. “That sounds made up.”) Let me explain.
After a long period of reading, movie-watching and researching, Elliott and I decided, in February 2010, to be more conscious of where our food comes from and what we put into our systems. Now, before I go any further, please don’t think this is going to be a rant or a digest on food ethics and blah blah blah. Trust me, we’ll get to the good stuff in a minute. I just want to lay the groundwork for why the heck I made a tofu sandwich. Long story short, we don’t eat meat unless it’s local and/or sustainably and ethically raised. If a pig was allowed to be a pig and express its “pigness” during its life before it became bacon, we’ll eat it. If it was shoved into a confined space without access to the outdoors and fed foods that aren’t good for its body and only make it fat, we won’t. It’s a little more complicated than that, but the point is, we don’t eat much meat. And when we do, it’s often from a farmer whose hands we’ve had the pleasure to actually shake.
That said, we’re still meat eaters at heart. I still crave a burger like, every week. I can’t eat salads all day long or I’d lose my meat-loving marbles. But we’re not about to give up on what we think is important. That’s where tofu (sometimes) comes in.
I remember the first time I ate tofu. It was disgustingly chewy and shaped into cubes and tucked into a tangled mess of pad Thai noodles. In short, it was gross. The second time I ate tofu, it was in a scrambled mix with pesto and cheese, with toast and roasted potatoes on the side. My friends who were eating with me thought it looked inedible. I thought it was delicious.
It’s been a slow-growing relationship with my now-beloved tofu. I’ve learned over time how to prepare it and when to eat it, or when to just leave it out. Tofu, sadly, is not the same thing as a burger. But it can be just as tasty.
One of my favorite ways to eat tofu is marinated and put on a sandwich. This cilantro and lime marinade is made with garlic and a dash of chili powder for a kick, so when you let the tofu sit in it for an hour or two, the flavors imparted are savory and tangy and a little bit spicy. It’s amazing. The tofu no longer tastes like it looks — a colorless, coagulated mass of soy. It actually tastes like a food.
If you’re leery of tofu but are willing to try it out, I suggest starting with this recipe. It’s basically foolproof and can be made in an hour (most of that hour hands-free). And if you don’t want to try it or just plain don’t like tofu, that’s fine. This marinade is also good on grilled chicken. Especially if that chicken came from down the road and was allowed to express its “chickenness” during its lifetime. Just saying.
Cilantro-Lime Tofu Sandwiches
A Girl Versus Dough Original (marinade from eHow.com)
Yields: 4 sandwiches
1/2 cup lime juice
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp olive oil
salt to taste
pinch of chili powder
1 16-oz package extra-firm tofu, sliced into sandwich-size rectangles
lime juice to taste
salt to taste
8 slices of whole-wheat bread, toasted (or any bread you like)
1 tomato, sliced
1/2 onion, sliced
handful of spinach leaves
Combine lime juice, cilantro, garlic, olive oil, salt and chili powder in a small bowl. Pour into a baking dish and place tofu slices on top. Spoon some of the marinade on top of the tofu and place the dish in the fridge to marinate for at least 1 hour (up to 3 hours). Flip over the tofu slices halfway through.
Meanwhile, mash an avocado in a small bowl and add lime juice and salt to taste. Spread avocado mash onto 4 slices of bread. Evenly distribute tomato, onion and spinach on bread slices. Set aside.
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Remove tofu from fridge and place directly on skillet (no extra oil needed for the skillet). Cook tofu until both sides are a golden brown, about 5 minutes each side. Remove from heat and place on sandwiches. Spoon remaining marinade on sandwiches, if desired. Top with remaining bread slices and serve.