Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Vegan Comfort Food

Oh.  My.  Goodness.  Pure deliciousness on a plate.

I read an article today talking about how difficult it is to be vegan because the food is so terrible.  And I thought to myself, "Oh, really?"  This would definitely prove them wrong!  Crispy yummy tofu, creamy mashed potatoes, and a very rich mushroom Marsala sauce made for the ultimate vegan comfort dinner.

Tofu gets such a bad wrap.  I didn't like it until after I was vegan for a few months and actually figured out how to best prepare it.  My preference is for Wildwood Sprouted Tofu.  It is higher in protein and a little easier to digest than regular tofu.  At least, it is for me.  I almost always slice it and press it to remove excess water from the 'fu.  That gives it a better texture.  Then you need to season tofu very well.  It is very bland and takes on the taste of whatever you season it/marinate it/cook it with.

Tonight's dinner definitely takes longer than most of my dinners because of marinating the tofu.  I breaded the tofu slices tonight, but will probably not do that again.  It was good, but it's an extra step that I usually don't find worth it.

Tofu with Marsala Mushrooms and Mashed Potatoes

  • 1 16-oz container of extra-firm tofu
  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 1 cup Marsala wine
Press the tofu between two heavy plates to squeeze out the extra water.  Slice the tofu into four slices, then each slice diagonally to make eight triangles.  

Place tofu slices in a flat baking type dish and cover with the soy sauce and Marsala.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.  You could do this early in the day, though.  The longer the better.  

IF you want to bread the tofu, mix the following together in a shallow baking pan:

  • 2 cups unseasoned bread crumbs
  • 3 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 tbsp fresh thyme, minced
If you don't want to bread the tofu, simply mix the seasonings together.  Set aside for when you are ready to fry the tofu slices.  

Start your potatoes.  Use whatever you have.  I love the Yukon gold potatoes and had half a package of tiny ones, just cleaned and cut in half.  It didn't look like enough for me and my mashed potato loving girls, so I also cut up four small-medium red potatoes.  I don't peel them.  I like my mashed potatoes to be kind of rustic and leave the skins on, but if you are particular about your mashed potatoes, then by all means peel them.   Cover the potatoes with water, add about 2 tsp of salt, bring to a boil, cover, and cook for about 20-30 minutes or until potatoes are tender.  

While your tofu is still marinating and your potatoes are boiling, start your Marsala mushroom sauce.  You may look at these amounts and think WOW!  She loves her gravy!  Well, I do, but it reduces down quite a bit.  You will not be sorry if you have extra sauce.  I promise.  You see the picture above?  See the small amount of mushrooms?  I forgot to take a picture and decided I'd go back and get "just one more small portion."  That's all the mushroom sauce that was left!  

  • 1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced, about 2 cups
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 cups sliced mushrooms - Crimini or Baby Bellas have the perfect meaty taste for this dish, but if you can't find them, you can use white button.  Or go crazy and use a mix of wild mushrooms - I bet oyster mushrooms would be fabulous!  I'm going to try those in this dish next time - I adore oyster mushrooms!
  • 2 cups Marsala
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 4 tsp pepper
  • 4 tsp herbs de Provence (or you can substitute rosemary, but the herbs de Provence are worth searching for)
  • 1 1/4 cups Silk soy creamer
Start with 1 tbsp of the olive oil (if you need a little more, add another one) and saute the onions on a medium heat until they are translucent and just beginning to caramelize.  Add the mushrooms and saute until they are browned.  Add herbs de Provence and Marsala.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cook and stir until wine is reduced by at least half.  Add creamer and continue to simmer until total amount is reduced by half again.  

While your sauce is finishing, remove tofu from marinade and sprinkle with seasoning/herbs.  (If you want to bread it, do so now.)  Heat a small amount of canola oil in a skillet - just enough to barely cover the bottom.  Add tofu to the pan and fry until browned on both sides.  Remove to a plate and blot with paper towels to remove excess oil.  

Time to whip up your potatoes.  I suggest enlisting the help of your 17-year-old daughter.  Mine sure came in handy at this point.  

Drain the potatoes and to them add:  

  • 3-4 tbsp Earth Balance vegan margarine
  • 1/4 - 1/2 cup of Silk soy creamer
  • 1 tsp herbs de Provence or rosemary (if you have fresh rosemary, use that and bump it up to 1 tbsp)
  • salt and pepper to taste
I use an old fashioned potato masher and do mine by hand.  I like an occasional chunk and I've already told you I leave my skins on.  Finish your potatoes in your favorite way, though.  It is comfort food, after all.  If I tell you to make them chunky and you like smooth, it won't be comforting, will it?  :::smile:::  


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