Neither Poverty Nor Riches

Give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me.

A Personal Recipe Archive

Friday, April 14, 2006

Grilled Vegetables and Tofu


Recipe Name: Grilled Vegetables and Tofu

Notes: This recipe is modeled loosely on the vegetable kebab at La Med, a restaurant by my house. This doesn't quite do the original justice (especially without the fresh hummus, green salad, fruit and cheese on the side), but it is tasty and satisfies the same cravings on a grad student budget.


Servings: 4 or 5

Ingredients:
For the Marinade
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup to 1/3 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 3 or 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • black pepper, to taste

The Vegetables, Etc.
  • 1 medium zucchini, sliced into 1/2 inch rounds
  • 1 summer squash (aka yellow squash), sliced into 1/2 inch rounds
  • 1 large Japanese eggplant, sliced into 1/2 inch rounds (I prefer the Eggplant slightly thinner)
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • a handful of cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 1 fourteen ounce package of extra-firm tofu

Directions:
First, prepare the marinade by mixing oil, vinegars, lemon juice, onion, garlic, oregano, and pepper in a large non-metal bowl.

Begin by opening and draining the tofu, and pressing it to expel excess moisture (it will soak up more of the marinade if it is not saturated with water). I place the drained block of tofu on a plate, with another plate on top of it, and put something with a little weight (a bowl of water, for example) on top of that upper plate. I let this compress the tofu while I chop vegetables, and then drain the excess water from the plate, chop the tofu into 1 inch cubes, and place the tofu cubes into the marinade.

Bring a small pot of water to a boil as you are slicing the zucchini and squash, and after they are sliced, blanch them in the boiling water for a minute or so, followed immediately by a cold water bath to cool them off. Drain them, blot them dry, and place them in the marinade.

Remove the stem, core, and seeds of the red bell pepper. Slice the pepper in half, lengthwise. To prepare for grilling you can either roast the pepper in the broiler (which makes it sweet and soft) or blanch it like the zucchini and squash (which makes it firmer and more peppery). Chop the prepared pepper into bite-sized pieces. I put these in the marinade as well, but roasted peppers have enough flavor that you do not need to marinate them if you prefer not to.

Slice the eggplant into thin rounds and place them directly in the marinade.

Finally, slice the handful of cherry tomatoes into halves and add them to the marinade.

Let the vegetables and tofu marinate for 2 hours or so.

When you are ready to cook, begin by starting some rice pilaf. I haven't found a good from-scratch recipe, and I've found that it is quicker, more cost-effective, and equally satisfying to use the Near East original rice pilaf mix.

While the rice is cooking (don't forget to check on it periodically), grill all of the vegetables and tofu. I use a small George Foreman grill, which is quick and easy to clean afterward. Because this sort of indoor grill closes over the grilled food, I like to grill evenly-sized things in a batch - I usually end up grilling all of the tofu at once, and each of the vegetables in a separate batch so that the grilling time and item-thickness is consistent. I usually grill everything for two or three minutes, until dark grill lines appear on the surface.

Toss all of the vegetables and tofu together in a bowl or serving dish, and serve over rice pilaf.

The leftovers for this dish keep and reheat well for several days.

Other things that can be substituted in for any of the vegetables listed are: mushrooms, small sweet onions, or asparagus.

*To roast the pepper, lay the two halves cut-side-down on a broiler pan. I line my pan with tinfoil, because the peppers do not need to drain as they broil, and it saves a lot of cleanup. Broil the pepper until its skin turns uniformely black, but do not allow it to burn. In my broiler this takes about 5 minutes, but time varies a lot for this depending on the broiler. It's best to keep an eye on the pepper until you have your broiler figured out. When the pepper skin is blackened, remove it from the broiler and rinse it in cold water until it is cool enough to handle. Then peel the papery black skin off.

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