on the menu : balsamic marinated tofu over tomato quinoa “risotto”

BALSAMIC MARINATED TOFU OVER TOMATO QUINOA “RISOTTO”

Throughout the past year of vegetarianism (semi-pescitarianism), I’ve discovered the versatility of many “blank slate” ingredients like tofu.  With tofu, depending on the firmness grade, you can break it down, you can mash it, you can sauté it, you can bake it – why?  Because tofu is so much like a sponge that soaks in whatever flavors are going on around it.

Straying away from the Asian flavor profile, I decided to marinade tofu in balsamic vinegar.  Instead of using regular balsamic vinegar, I opted for creamy balsamic vinegar to keep the acidity at bay.  When you sauté the marinaded tofu, the marinade forms a beautiful crust which is a great textural complement to the quinoa and tomatoes.

The tomato quinoa “risotto” is not laborious like a traditional risotto.  The ingredients and concept is kept purposely simple and as such, creates the perfect foundation to pair with the tofu.  Tomatoes are a fantastic ingredient to emulsify oil because they do so naturally when they break down.  The scallions are a gentle ‘zing’ that create layers of flavor rather than masking them (as garlic or red onion may, for instance).

Above all, this is a great dish for spring.

INGREDIENTS:

  • Tomato Quinoa “Risotto”:
    • Heirloom Tomatoes (3)
    • Basil (1/4 cup)
    • Scallions (2 Green Stems)
    • Quinoa (1 cup)
    • Olive Oil
    • Salt + Pepper
  • Balsamic Marinated Tofu:
    • Extra Firm Tofu (12 oz)
    • Creamy Balsamic Vinegar (3 tbsp)
    • Olive Oil
    • Salt

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Wrap the tofu in paper towels and microwave on a plate for 1 minute to get some of the moisture out.
  2. Cut up the tofu into thin 1/4-inch slices.
  3. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the oil, creamy balsamic, and salt until emulsified.  Add the tofu and allow all of the slices to coat in the marinade.  Let the tofu marinade for a good 20 minutes.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, drizzle in the olive oil.
  5. Finely julienne the basil and add to the bowl.  Finely dice up the green part of the scallions and add to the bowl as well.  Mix together with the basil.
  6. Cut up the tomatoes into bite-size pieces and add to the bowl.  Gently toss together with the oil, basil, and scallions.  Season with salt + pepper and let sit for 20 minutes.
  7. While the tofu and tomatoes are marinating, cook the quinoa according to the package.  Add salt + pepper to the cooking liquid.  Once the quinoa has cooked, let it cool a bit.
  8. Lay out the tofu in a sauté pan, place it over the stove top and raise the heat to medium-high.  Let the tofu cook and each side brown; roughly 10-15 minutes per side.
  9. Combine the quinoa with the tomato mixture until well combined.
  10. Serve the tomatoes + quinoa topped with the marinated tofu.
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