Thursday, April 3, 2008

Vinegar: It's What's For Dinner

Why not take the cattle industry's advertising trope and turn it on its head with a tale of an entirely plant-based and exceedingly delicious dinner...

Italian (by way of Asia) Marinated Grilled Tofu with Roasted Veggies (or, How to Save Your Meal When You Add Too Much Vinegar)

This past weekend, Brian and I made a simple and warm dish that featured some seasonal vegetables that are beginning to make their way into the markets now. Like many, my favorite seasonal produce is in the spring and summer months--sugar snap peas, berries, onions, peaches, nectarines so I'm very happy to be digging into all of those foods again. (For a list of when seasonal produce is available across different parts of the US, visit Sustainable Table's "Eat Seasonal" guide).

We also made the Italian Marinated Tofu from Veganomicon. It calls for a 1/2 cup of white wine in the marinade. Since I didn't have any, I thought, why not substitute some white wine vinegar. I like vinegary food but this was a bit much. Once I got the tofu going on my new Calphalon grill pan, which I love, I tasted a small bite and all I could taste was vinegar. Brian suggested adding a bit more tamari. I did and then thought, why not a little agave nectar too. Those additions saved dinner by cutting the bite of the vinegar and adding just a hint of salty-sweetness. Grilling the marinated tofu gave it a nice, pronounced crust and tender, flavorful interior. Having tofu steaks, as opposed to stir-fried cubes, also was a nice change of pace from how I normally eat tofu.

On a parchment lined baking sheet, we loaded up some roasted red potatoes and yellow onion wedges that had been tossed in a small amount of olive oil, kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. When the potatoes are crispy brown and and the onions are softened and a bit charred (this takes anywhere from 20 to 30 minutes at 475 degrees F, depending on your oven), we added asparagus, chunks of garlic and a few tablespoons of white balsamic vinegar. Yes, we still needed more vinegar. It's worth using the white balsamic as opposed to the usual darker variety. Once roasted, it's subtle and savory rather than hitting you over the head with--WHOMP! VINEGAR! It takes about 5 minutes for the asparagus to be ready and then your whole meal is done.

While we prepared dinner, I also cooked for Luckie, who had his usual turkey, rice, and veggies combo. The dog normally has carrots but since asparagus was on the menu, I gave him the snapped off ends of the stalk. He goes nuts for asparagus, can eat loads of the stalk.

Why no pictures of the final meal in its complete state? Because Brian and I are eaters before we are bloggers and we just started eating before the idea of taking more pictures occurred to us. Dessert was chocolate chip cookie dough soy cream topped with a maple french toast twist by Barry's Bakery. No dairy or eggs or funky preservatives and only one Weight Watchers point for each crunchy, flaky treat. That is living.
NOTE: This post is actually by Brian and me. I wrote the text but Brian took the pictures and we both cooked the meal. In other Brian new, he will be headed off to a talk with Gene Baur, president and cofounder of Farm Sanctuary this evening at 6:30 pm at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. It's hosted by the Animal Legal Defense Fund.


Sky said...

Looking good - inspiring me to take my camera with me to restaurants from now on! And where did you find those Barry's twist things? Were the actually yummy for only 60 calories?

Joselle said...

Yes, I'd love to see pictures of your meals out.

I get the Barry's twists at Stop and Shop so I'm sure any major supermarket would carry them. They are good. Even better with a nice cup of tea or coffee to dip them in.