This is a terrific recipe for a restaurant-quality lunch or light evening meal, perfect for vegans and vegetarians.
It uses a marinated tofu “steak” as a direct replacement for a grilled salmon fillet or chicken breast. There is a light, creamy asparagus sauce and you can finish the dish with your choice of white rice or grains (eg couscous, bulgar wheat, quinoa etc).
Technically, it’s not a difficult meal to make but there is some effort required. There is a marinade to mix, some blending of ingredients to create a sauce and finally some frying or grilling. It’s worth the effort though. When this dish is plated up, it looks very impressive.
The quantities below serve four people.
- 400g extra-firm tofu, drained and sliced lengthwise into four “steaks”
- 2 Tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon agave (or maple) syrup
- ¼ cup diced red pepper, for garnish
- 450g asparagus, trimmed and chopped (about 2 cups)
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1 large leek, white and light green parts thinly sliced (1½ cups)
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
- ¼ cup loosely packed basil leaves (a decent handful)
- 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 Tablespoons toasted pine nuts, plus more for garnish
- To make the tofu steaks: Stir together the soy sauce, olive oil, and agave syrup in large baking dish. Add the tofu and leave it to marinate for at least 30 minutes, turning occasionally and spooning the marinade over all sides of the tofu steaks.
- To make the asparagus sauce: Cook the asparagus for 3-4 minutes in a large pot of boiling, salted water. Then tip the asparagus into a colander and run it under cold water to stop it cooking any further. Keep the asparagus tips separate for garnish. (It’s much easier to do this if you cook the asparagus tips separately in a little saucepan, rather than trying to pick them out of the colander later one at a time.)
- Add a tablespoon of olive oil to a small frying pan and cook the chopped leek over a medium heat for 8-10 minutes. Add the garlic, and cook for another minute.
- (If you’re cooking rice or grains with this meal, you’ve now got about 15 minutes left. This is the time to get them under way.)
- Put the asparagus, leek, basil, lemon juice, pine nuts and 1/3 cup water in blender, and blitz until smooth and creamy. Now put this sauce back in the frying pan in which you cooked the leek. You’re not trying to boil it, just keep it warm. Check the seasoning and adjust as necessary.
- Heat another large frying pan or a griddle pan; get it medium-hot and add the tofu steaks. Cook them for five minutes on each side until you get a nice golden, crispy finish, basting with the marinade occasionally. I guess you could also do this under a grill (in US: broiler) for a similar result.
- To serve: Spread a generous ladle of sauce onto the plate and place one of your tofu steaks in the centre of the sauce. Garnish with the asparagus tips, the chopped red pepper and some toasted pine nuts. You can also drizzle any remaining sauce artistically around the plate.
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