I love Mother’s Market & Kitchen. My favorite location is in Huntington Beach. I literally grew up there. And every face that works at that spot is familiar (total creep that I am, I have to resist hugging them ALL!) Plus, I want to eat ALL THE FOODS in the Kitchen — like, every little thing on the menu. That’s what happens as a vegan when you have so many options. From açai bowls to tempeh wraps, pancakes to split pea soup… I want it all in my belly (oh, and the freshly baked VEGAN biscuits? To die for).
But what I normally fall back on, on an average day, when I’m being as health-conscious as possible (read: avoiding splurging like a maniac), I order the same self-concocted meal: 8 oz. of steamed veggies, 8 oz. of blackened tofu, and a side of Mother’s handmade salsa. It might not sound like much, but it does the trick every time. And if I feel like my body needs some extra healthy fats, I grab a side of avocado, as well.
I love the way lightly steaming veggies brings out the subtle flavors of broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, and yellow squash, without destroying essential vitamins and nutrients. And yes, I know that over-indulging in soy isn’t a smart move, but I rarely eat it, so protein-packed tofu is a treat for me. Plus, add in the incredible, smoky zing of salsa and a rich, creamy smear of avocado, and I’m in Valhalla.
So last night, I wanted to re-create this go-to meal myself, right here in our kitchen. Feeling super lazy, and fighting a nasty cold, I took way more shortcuts on this than I normally would. BUT I REGRET NOTHING. It was exactly what we needed…
DISCLAIMER: I often don’t measure things precisely when it comes to cooking (baking, on the other hand, that’s math, man… I wouldn’t mess around with that). So forgive my estimates.
Lazy Blackened Tofu and Steamed Veggies
(Makes a crap-load)
- 4 cups of chopped organic carrots, broccoli and cauliflower
- Steamer, bottom boiler filled with filtered water and a dash of salt
- Garlic salt grinder
- Rainbow peppercorn grinder
- A nice ol’ knife and cutting board
- 15.5 oz organic firm tofu
- A deep dish
- Bragg Liquid Aminos
- Several dashes of blackening spice
- Light spray of extra virgin olive oil
- Cast-iron skillet
- Thin, metal spatula
The blackening spice (from The Native Foods Restaurant Cookbook; makes about 1 1/2 cups):
- 1/4 cup cayenne
- 1/4 cup paprika
- 1/4 cup chili powder
- 2 tbsp dried oregano
- 2 tbsp sea salt
- 2 tbsp dried thyme
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 tsp ground allspice
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp ground mace
- Storage container
- Trader Joe’s Double Roasted Salsa
- Gopal’s Health Foods Rawmesan
- Plates/bowls/spoons/forks, I don’t really need to tell you these things, do I?
- Chop and start steaming your veggies. Add a few grinds of garlic salt and rainbow peppercorns on top of the veggies (because these things are delicious, and the salt will keep your broccoli greeeeeeeen).
- While the veggies are steaming, chop your tofu into chunks, squares, triangles, WHO CARES?! Dredge them in a deep dish of 1/2 water and 1/2 liquid aminos (this doesn’t have to marinate long).
- Mix up the blackening spice, one ingredient at a time (I like using a mortar and pestle, but a spoon/fork/your fingers will work fine, too). Reserve a few dashes for the tofu; store the rest in an airtight container and it’ll keep as long as the spices in your cupboard normally keep.
- After the tofu has marinated for a few minutes, drain it, add in your dashes of blackening spice, and toss it around to evenly coat (I like a lot of spice because I like it REALLY spicy. If you don’t like it really spicy, take it easy on the spice. DUH.)
- Heat your skillet and spray with a light, even coat of olive oil (I was lazy and used a store-bought spray can; you can save money and make your own spray olive oil; or you can wipe a little oil on a rag and add it to your pan. Let’s not judge, okay?) Do the drop of water test in the pan; when it sizzles, add your tofu mixture.
- Keep your eye on the tofu and keep scraping and flipping, scraping and flipping, with your thin metal spatula, otherwise it will stick and you will be sad. There’s no real rule, IMHO, for how long you need to cook it. You want it crispy? Cook it till it’s crispy. I wanted it heated all the way through, but still soft, so I cooked it just till I could smell the tofu cooking (did you know that rule of thumb? My smarty sister taught me this. When you can really smell your food cooking, it’s probably cooked. This rule only applies to vegan food though, I truly know nothing about cooking poor sweet animals, so don’t go killing yourself by taking my advice here).
- At this point, when your tofu is done, I’m going to assume the veggies are probably pretty well steamed. Now you get to plate! (I LOVE plating!) Take your plates/bowls/etc., divide up the steamed veggies then divide up the tofu. Now, like I said, I was seriously lazy. I didn’t make my own salsa (which you should absolutely do if you have more time or energy than I). And I didn’t make my own cheezy, nutritional-yeasty topping (which you should also do, if you can, and maybe in a future post I shall chat a bit about that). But right now, I’m broke and tired, so I used Trader Joe’s Double Roasted Salsa and spooned about 4 tbsp onto each serving, plus a couple good shakes from my favorite jar of Gopal’s Health Foods Rawmesan.
- Now comes the really hard part: EAT IT.