Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Brussels Sprouts and Tofu

Food wise, I had a wonderful weekend. (with the exception of Friday night, when Scott and I both came home from an opera performance and rehearsal, respectively, at around 1AM and sat in front of the couch eating whatever we could scrounge up. Not our best moment.) Yesterday was particularly exceptional. Being the lovely girlfriend I am (note sarcasm here), I bought Scott some bread, olive oil and balsamic vinegar from Zingerman’s, one of his old college haunts, to celebrate two years of dating and we had an indoor picnic (the weather outside was crummy) with those ingredients, pesto, mozzarella cheese and olives from Fairway, fresh fruit, vegetables, baba ganouj, wine, and chocolate chip walnut cookies from Levain Bakery. It was a feast that was far too excessive for two people to eat alone (leftovers!!) and it was followed (several hours later, mind you) by dinner at Marea, one of the best restaurants I’ve visited in the past few months. If you go to Marea, definitely try the calamari appetizer. It’s stuffed with cod puree and accompanied by tomatoes, pignoli nuts, capers and grilled polenta. The flavors are warm and reminiscent of Italy and the dish is incredibly refined and looks spectacular. The tagliatelle with lobster and tarragon is quite a treat, too. Gosh, I wish I had taken pictures.

As you can imagine, it was around noon today before I even wanted to eat anything. At that point, I still couldn’t really imagine eating a full meal so when it came time to make dinner tonight, I knew whatever I made would have to be easy and light. A stir fry type dish was the perfect choice.

Now, I’m going to be honest with you: I am not the world’s biggest fan of tofu. Yes, I will eat it if it’s available and is the only non meat option on a menu. Yes, I’ll actually crave tofu in a Thai red or green curry (that’s my favorite way to eat it). But at home, I don’t generally gravitate towards recipes that include tofu because it’s just not my favorite thing to cook with or eat.

But tofu and brussels sprouts? This intrigued me. I saw the recipe on Dana Treat a few months ago, and was just waiting for the right time to make it. Side note: If you’re ever looking for wonderful desserts or healthy, fresh meals to make, you should read Dana’s site. I’d probably starve without it. Or eat pasta every single night.

Now back to this. The key to this recipe is to let the tofu marinate for a half hour before doing the stir fry. Let it soak up the sesame oil, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, maple syrup and chili sauce. The tofu absorbs these tastes and then infuses all of the other ingredients in the pan with the flavor of this marinade. The profile is noticeably East Asian with a hint of edginess which the brussels sprouts lend to the dish. Even if you’re not a huge fan of tofu or brussels sprouts, there’s something to be said for the bold, sweet, spiciness of this combination.

Best of all, it doesn’t weigh you down. Served by itself or with a side of brown rice, there’s no better way to get back into eating well than to make something like this for dinner.

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