I really like bacon. And cheeseburgers. But my deep dark secret is that sometimes I feel as guilty as a Catholic school girl after the prom about that. I was a vegetarian for 8 years. It started as maniacal display of teenage rebellion against my meat-and-potatos Irish parents and became a way of life (can you even imagine such defiance?). But as I nurtured my burgeoning ADD symptoms after college, I got bored and distracted and shoved a shrimp in my mouth at a cocktail party; it was downhill from there. Turns out shrimp is the gateway crustacean.
It wasn’t until I started dating B that I fell off the omnivore plateau of poultry and fish into the valley of just about everything else. About once a week I think about going back to being a vegetarian, then I admit that B does most of the cooking in our house and I’d probably starve. That was a really verbose way of explaining that I made a tofu recipe for dinner. And it was really good. Not in that “it was really good…for tofu” kind of way, it was just really good. And easy. And cholesterol free (because I take that into consideration frequently). Brilliant.
Black Pepper Tofu and Green Beans
(adapted from Sunset Magazine, Sept. 2011)
Serves 4 (in theory)
1 pound green beans, trimmed and halved
2 tablespoons lime juice (I just juiced one lime)
2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon pepper
14 ounces firm tofu, drained and patted dry
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
1/2 cup sliced shallots
Chili paste to taste if desired (I added that little twist)
1. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil, add green beans, and cook until bright green, about 3 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water. In a small bowl, mix lime juice, soy sauce, and pepper, then set aside. If using the chili sauce, I suggest you add it to this mixture, then add more at the table if you want it spicier.
2. Cut tofu into 1/2-in.-thick rectangles. Heat oil in a nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat. Add tofu, sprinkle with sugar, and cook, turning occasionally, until evenly browned, about 10 minutes. (This is where I added the chili sauce. Don’t do this – that shit splatters and pops like it has a personal vendetta against your eyes).
3. Stir in shallots and cook until browned, about 3 minutes. Add green beans and cook until warmed, about 3 minutes. Pour in soy mixture and stir to coat.
If you’re nice, tomorrow I’ll tell you about the peach tart I made for dessert.