Tuesday, October 4, 2011

MOFO - Day 4 - More Tofu!

Lets talk more about tofu. Tofu is not tofu is not tofu. Different types of tofu have different uses. Newbie tofu users may find themselves confused of frustrated when they see the different types of tofu in the store. Here is a quickie rule of thumb.

Soft and/or silken tofu is just as it says: soft. It will crumble and fall apart very easily. It is best used for dishes where it can be mixed in uses as a thickener. I use it in the recipe below. It is also excellent for making smoothies, mousse, dressings, sauces...you get the picture. While I have seen silken tofu in the refrigerated section, it is usually found by the Asian section on the shelves of your grocery store. It can be stored in a cool dry place for up to a year. Pictured below is my preferred brand and type. As I mentioned earlier. I always try to buy and use organic, non-GMO tofu.

Also pictured below is my beloved Veganaise. This variety is organic and does have a little soy in it. There is minimal protein in it, but man it tastes like the real deal!

Probably the most common style of tofu seen in the stores is called tub tofu. It comes in a little plastic tub and is soaking in water. This is found in the refrigerated section and must be kept refrigerated. I am a big fan of extra firm for most dishes, but the firm also works great in dishes like tofu scramble or making tofu based cheeses. This type of tofu has many other uses. It is great in stir frys, grilled, sauteed, fried, baked, just about any way you might use meat. 

One important thing to remember about tub tofu is that for many recipes it should be drained and pressed. This is something that I learned the hard way. Pressing the tofu takes out extra moisture that can give the tofu an unpleasant, mushy texture in many recipes. There are several methods to pressing tofu. Being the gadget girl that I am, I bought myself a Tofu X-press, but two plates a bag of beans (or some other heavy food item from your pantry) and a clean kitchen towel will do nicely as well. Place the drained tofu on a towel lined plate. Top with the second plate and put your weight on top. Make sure the weight is not too heavy or it will crush your little block of tofu. Let it press for about an hour and you should be good to go. I often put my tofu in the fridge before I go to work and let it press all day for time-sake.

You may also find brick style tofu. This is similar to tub style, but is not swimming in liquid. It tends to be much more firm and is best in dishes with sauces as it doesn't absorb flavors as readily as the tub style.

Ok, now that you are an expert at the different type of tofu, I'm going to share with you a very tasty and fun way to use silken tofu (and Veganaise). It's not low fat, but it is a tasty and awesome party dish.

Special Spinach Artichoke Dip

Makes 3 1/2 cups

1 - 12.3 oz. package aseptic packaged silken firm tofu (like Nori-mu)
1/4 cup Vegannaise
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 tablespoon capers, dained
2 large cloves minced garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons granulated onion
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

8 oz frozen chopped spinach, thawed excess water squeezed out
1 - 8.5 oz can artichoke hearts, drained, corsely chopped
1 - jarred roasted red pepper, diced (approx 1/3 - 1/2 cup)
3 tablespoon chopped Kalamata olives
2 tablespoons chopped chives

In a food processor blend tofu through black pepper until smooth, scraping sides occasionally. Transfer to a large bowl. Add spinach and mix until well combined. Add remaining ingredients and gently stir until ingredients are evenly distributed. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. For best flavor, let sit in fridge for at least one hour for flavors to meld. Serve with pita chips, crusty bread and or fresh veggies.