I’ve been trying to put together a lemon-herb tofu for a while, and I think I’ve finally got it.
The original inspiration for this was kebabs. However, you will notice that no sticks were harmed in the making of these vegetables.
They did not go on sticks for a couple reasons. Mixed skewers are beautiful-looking, with all the vegetables arrayed in a colorful progression, but no matter how evenly everything is cut, one foodstuff inevitably cooks before another, resulting in burned something and nearly-raw something else. Additionally, I don’t own a grill (it seems somewhat pointless when my favorite food is beans) and I find that placing the vegetables flat on a baking sheet under the broiler works very well.
I usually make something like this at midsummer, when there are plenty of appropriate vegetables. I especially like broiled small tomatoes, their skins puckering and their flesh slumped into a juicy mass that collapses over the other ingredients when tossed together. In May, though, there are no such ideal tomatoes on offer, so we limited ourselves to what was locally available: the yellow squash and red onions from our CSA box, plus zucchini and fennel from the farmers’ market.
Despite the lack of tomatoes, these came out very well. The summer squashes developed a buttery, almost nutty toasted flavor, the onions softened and caramelized beautifully, and the fennel yielded its crunch just enough to provide an interesting counterpoint to the softer vegetables and the springy-textured seasoned tofu.
I’ve been wrestling all week with how to describe the red onions used in this recipe – I would call them green onions, because they have their soft stalks on – except they’re red on the bottom. Green red onions sounds confusing. Perhaps they’re immature red onions, because they haven’t been dried for storage?
For the marinade:
1 bunch parsley (about 4 c.)
1 bunch mint (about 60 leaves)
6 cloves garlic
Juice of one lemon (about 4 T.)
1/2 c. olive oil
1/4 c. water
Salt and pepper to taste
For the tofu and vegetables:
1 lb. extra-firm tofu
4 zucchini, cut in thick rounds
2 yellow squash, cut in thick rounds
1 young red onion, cut in thick rounds
2 small bulbs fennel, split into wedges
The night before, cut the tofu into even squares and place it into a wide, flat container. Place all of the marinade ingredients in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal S-blade. Process until minced but with some texture remaining. Apply about half the marinade to it and refrigerate at least eight hours or overnight.
Preheat the broiler and arrange the marinated tofu on a large baking sheet with a rim. Place the tofu about four inches from the broiler and cook about eight minutes, checking every two minutes for brownness. Once one side is browned, turn and cook the other side the same way. Remove to a large warmed plate and cover.
While the tofu is cooking, mix the vegetables with the remainder of the marinade. When the tofu is finished cooking and removed to a plate, arrange the vegetables flat on the baking sheet. Place them under the broiler and cook until browned on one side, about eight minutes, then turn all the vegetables over and broil another eight minutes on the second side.
Combine the vegetables and tofu on the plate and serve with rice pilaf. You can also, if desired, pass lemon wedges at the table to squeeze over individual servings.
Makes four servings.