Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Hazelnut Encrusted Tofu

One rainy day at Kings Valley Gardens we spent an afternoon sitting in the hoop house cracking hazelnuts (otherwise known as filberts, I am unsure what, if any, the difference is). The hazelnuts had been gleaned the year before from a nearby hazelnut orchard. I love hazelnuts and for my designated cooking night (we take turns) I wanted to feature them. I had heard of people encrusting various things with them, and tofu seemed like the only available thing to encrust. I was really happy with how the meal turned out and I know others liked it because a repeat was requested the next week. 

In a past post I mentioned including more recipes that actually fit the name of the blog and were cheap, quick and local. This meal fits the bill... but only if you have hazelnuts and strawberries that you grew/gleaned. I am guessing this is a relatively small portion of the population. If hazelnuts are too expensive or not available you could use any nut you have on hand. The strawberry sauce was delicious but if it's not strawberry season the tofu would be good on its own, or I would probably eat it with catsup. 

The hoop house where we sit on rainy days to crack nuts
The hoop house where we sit on rainy days to crack nuts

The full menu that I served the was:
Hazelnut Encrusted Tofu
Strawberry Merlot Sauce
Macerated Kale Salad

For the tofu:
1 container tofu
1/2 cup hazelnuts
1/2 cup flour (I used brown rice flour to make it gluten free)
pinch of salt and pepper
1 egg (you could leave out the egg to make it vegan, but the coating may not stick quite as well)
1 tbsp stone ground mustard
1 tbsp tamari
1 tbsp honey

Hazelnut encrusted tofu, strawberry wine sauce, quinoa,
and macerated kale salad
If you are doing the full suggested menu start the salad first (scroll down for the recipe)

Tofu Directions
Pre heat oven to 400 degrees and grease a large cookie sheet.

At Kings Valley I was introduced to using frozen tofu which I would recommend, but fresh will also work well. To freeze tofu start by slicing it into 1/4 inch pieces. Drain as much water as possible and then simply store it in the freezer. The defrosted tofu will be much more spongy than its fresh counterpart. If you froze tofu a couple of days/weeks/months ago you will need to remember to get it out of the freezer the day before you want to make this dish (probably obvious, but you never know). 

Hazelnut encrusted tofu, strawberry wine sauce, quinoa,
and macerated kale salad
If using fresh tofu start by slicing the it into 1/4 inch slices, or whatever shape you want. We did some "nuggets" and they turned out really well.

Blend/process the nuts, flour, and salt/pepper until everything is a fine powder. Pour this coating mixture into a small bowl. Mix the remaining ingredients (egg through honey) in a second small bowl. Dip each slice of tofu into the egg mixture and then the nut mixture and lay it on the prepared cookie sheet. Repeat with all available tofu. 

Cook tofu in 400 degree oven for 15 minutes, flip, and cook for an additional 15 minutes. 

Sauce Directions
Once the tofu was in the oven I started the sauce. For the sauce I simply cooked 2 cups of strawberries and one cup of red wine (in this case merlot) on simmer for about 5 minutes and then mashed the strawberries with a fork. 

Salad and Quinoa 
Do the salad FIRST so that the kale has time to marinate which makes it more tender. This salad is also delicious the next day, when it has had even longer to marinate. I just tour up a large bowl of clean fresh kale and tossed it with about 1/2 cup of garlic salad dressing (which I will post the recipe for next week) but you could use any dressing you like. You may want to start with a smaller amount of salad dressing and continue adding dressing until the kale leaves seem evenly coated.

I used a pressure cooker for the quinoa. The pressure cooker makes is very quick so you can start this after prepping the sauce. I put

  • 5 cups water
  • 4 cups quinoa

in the pressure cooker and turned the burner on to high. When the pressure cooker reached pressure, on mine this is marked by the gauge on the top rocking back and forth, I immediately turned it off and let it sit. If the pressure cooker is not ready to open when you want to eat run it under cold water for 30 to 60 seconds and the pressure should drop.

This was a lovely summer meal. I look forward to experimenting more with nut encrusted tofu and varying the flavors to match the season. I think walnuts and maple would lend themselves to an autumn dish...

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