Monday, April 17, 2006

This Is Not Your Mother's Tofu

I rarely will cook with tofu. For the most part, it just distresses me. And there was that soup with cubed tofu incident from my childhood...

Trapped somewhere between moderate conservatism and liberal vegetarianism, I can sometimes have problems finding my niche. I eat a diet low in dairy products and high in vegetables and whole grains (so far, so good). I eat very little in the way of processed foods, yet can wolf down homemade desserts like they're going out of style. I won't eat red meat or chicken, but will eat seafood once a week. I usually vote Republican, but I am rabid about recycling. I prefer organic whole foods, but have no problem with tax cuts for the wealthy. Pigeonhole me if you can.

I love NPR, and I believe energy efficiency should be mandated by government legislation, but I am scared of tofu. You see, its a hippie food and I am a conservative Christian. And I have no problem picking and choosing my beliefs to suit my tastes.

Tofu may frighten me, but I've never met a poblano recipe that I didn't like. So when I ran across a recipe I had copied two years ago (or so) from Real Simple magazine for Stuffed Poblanos, I tried not to wince at the prominence of tofu in the ingredient list. I stared warily at the recipe every time I made our menu over the past few weeks, but I just couldn't bring myself to give it a shot. Then I decided to make Shrimp Quesadillas for Saturday, and I needed a side dish. Since we'd already had fresh salsa, and since my avocados will never get ripe enough for me to make guacamole, I felt I was getting word from on high that it was time to conquer my fears and become a True Granola Person.

Saturday morning's recipes were full of success (hummus, veggie pita wraps, tabbouli, banana chocolate chip muffins), so my confidence level was fairly high when I began working on the stuffed peppers for dinner. I put my favorite Morphine album on the stereo, made some iced coffee, and mentally prepared myself. Then I gathered my ingredients and re-read the recipe. It still seemed like a dicey proposition. I got nervous again while I mashed up the tofu, I'm not crazy about chopped tomatoes, and I found it to be really difficult to cut slits into the peppers and pry out all the seeds without massacring the peppers. I was sure the whole thing was doomed.

I tasted the filling after I mixed everything together and, surprise of all surprises, I loved it. Great texture, full flavor, very un-tofu-like. Even more surprising was that The Carnivore walked by while I was fighting with the pepper seeds and he poked a finger into the bowl of filling and made some sort of approving sound. I had carefully hidden the package of tofu in the refrigerator for two days so he wouldn't have any preconceived notions about the dish before trying it, and I think I might have even winced when he asked what was in the stuffing, but I fessed up and he looked surprised, tried another bite, and still deemed it great. Once it was all said and done, the Stuffed Poblanos took the award for the night, far overshadowing the shrimp quesadillas (not an easy feat).

I am a little less fearful of tofu now. But I'm still not going to vote for Hillary. Let's not take this new hippie food open-mindedness too far.

  • 4 large poblano chiles
  • 14-oz package of soft tofu
  • 1 minced garlic clove
  • 1 finely chopped onion (Yolie, if you pulverize the onion, you can get the sharp flavor without having to sink your teeth into onion chunks)
  • 3 cups rice (I used brown rice)
  • 1 chopped tomato (I scooped out and discarded the juicy inner part and only used the outer rim of the tomato)
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 2 Tbs chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 cup shredded white cheddar (I used Pepper Jack cheese instead)
  1. Cut a slit lengthwise down the sides of the peppers, while standing on one foot and holding your mouth just right. Remove and discard the seeds.
  2. Mash the tofu in a large bowl.
  3. Add garlic, onion, rice, tomato, olive oil, parsley and salt to the tofu and mix well.
  4. Stuff the peppers with the tofu filling and bake at 450 degrees for 30 minutes.
  5. Top each pepper with 1/4 of the cheese and continue baking until the cheese melts, about 3 minutes more.


yolie said...

this sounds yummy...except for the tofu (heehee). Maybe I'll try it with some (dare I say it...)ground turkey meat. love you! (i love you so much it deserves an exclamation point)

Sarah (Foodie-in-Training) said...

Yolie, if you really! loved! me! you wouldn't put meat in my pepper recipe.

DollyMama said...

Have you read the new book "Crunchy Cons" yet? it's about conservatives that are also "crunchy." Your description of yourself reminded me of the book, which I'm now reading.