Sunday, July 31, 2011

Zucchini Season #5: Grilled Vege and Tofu Stack

In an effort to be healthier, Phil and I like to have a few meat-free meals each week. We do not believe however, that this means having to sacrifice flavour or satiety. This recipe is a classic example of what I'm talking about: marinaded and barbecued vegetables and tofu stacked and served with a generous dollop of basil pesto. It can be served as a side dish or the main event, and looks so wonderfully colourful that you won't know whether to dig in straight away or just admire it for a moment.

Maybe you haven't branched out into the world of tofu yet and  the word alone sends shivers down your spine, but I urge you to give it a try. Together with the lightly charred veges and the mouth-watering balsamic vinegar and garlic marinade, you will be very glad you did.

You can use a wide range of vegetables for this recipe, so don't be restricted by what is listed in the recipe. We used zucchini, red capsicum (bell pepper) and portobello mushrooms, but eggplant, sweet potato and tomato would also be wonderful. While you're at it, why not add a slice of grilled haloumi cheese (yum!). Phil and I adored the meatiness of the big portobellos and agreed it was worth paying the extra for them - after all, we didn't have to pay for any meat!

When I made this dish we were house-sitting for Phil's uncle who had a basil plant crying out to be loved into pesto. I do plan on posting a homemade pesto recipe at some stage, although on that particular day I was not taking much notice of my quantities. If you have a food processor and are feeling adventurous, just have a play around with about a cup of fresh basil leaves, 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, 1/3 cup walnuts (or pine nuts), juice of one lemon, a couple of chopped garlic cloves, a drizzle of olive oil and enough water to get a creamy consistency. I just keep adding a bit of this and that until it tastes just right. Fresh basil pesto really is soooo much better than store bought and went perfectly with this dish.

Grilled Vege and Tofu Stack
Adapted from Epicurious

1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh mint leaves
1 package (approx 12oz/340g) extra-firm tofu, cut crosswise into 8 slices, drained on paper towels
1 zucchini, trimmed, cut lengthwise into four 4-inch-long slices
1 red capsicum (bell pepper), rounded ends trimmed, seeded, cut lengthwise into 4 pieces
4 portobello mushrooms, stems removed
Basil pesto, to serve
  1. Fire up your grill, aiming for a medium-high heat.
  2. Place vinegar and minced garlic in large bowl. Gradually whisk in olive oil. Stir in sliced mint. Season marinade to taste with salt and pepper.
  3. Working in batches, add tofu to marinade and turn to coat. Transfer tofu to baking sheet and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add zucchini, bell pepper, and mushrooms to marinade and toss to coat.
  4. Place vegetables on grill and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook until charred and softened, turning occasionally, about 6 minutes. Transfer to baking sheet.
  5. Place tofu on grill. Cook until tofu is charred, about 2 minutes per side.
  6. Stack tofu and vegetables on plates. Dollop a tablespoon of basil pesto on the top, drizzle with any left over marinade and garnish with mint or basil sprigs.
Makes 4 stacks.

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