Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Tofu and Broccoli Stir Fry

A lot of people automatically turn up their noses at the mention of tofu, but I'm definitely not one of them. Many people are a little wary of the somewhat gelatinous texture, I absolutely love the contrast between the brown and chewy outside and tender middle of stir-fried or baked tofu. Its inherent flavor isn't something that I go crazy for (though it doesn't turn me off either), but tofu is a great blank canvas for almost any ingredient, especially Asian flavors. Another advantage of tofu? No advanced planning required to make sure its thawed when it comes time to make dinner.

On Monday nights, I'm often trying to make up some ground after the vices I indulged in over the weekend, leading to a lot of vegetarian meals with eggs, beans, or tofu as the protein hitting the dinner plate. This simple, but flavorful stir-fry is a great way to atone for the dietary sins of the weekend, filled with vegetables and lean protein glazed with spicy sweet and sour sauce and topped by the salty crunch of toasted cashews. Fresh broccoli is by far your top choice here, creating the best contrast in both flavor and texture, but even frozen broccoli will do in a pinch (and won't require the blanching step). If tofu just isn't your thing, this recipe will also work perfectly with chicken, or broccoli all on its own. I served this stir-fry over brown rice, but it would also be great over rice or soba noodles, or even whole wheat spaghetti or linguine. The next time you're reaching for the take-out menus, try this quick stir-fry instead-it'll make it to the dinner table faster than delivery and leave you feeling much better after.

Tofu and Broccoli Stir Fry
from Martha Stewart Everyday Food
serves 4

1 package (14 1/2 ounces) firm tofu, drained, cut crosswise into 6 slabs (about 3/4 inch wide), each slab halved horizontally and cut into triangles
1 1/2 pounds broccoli, stalks trimmed, peeled, and cut into 1/4-inch rounds, florets separated into bite-size pieces
Coarse salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1/4 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 cup cashews, toasted

1. Arrange tofu in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with several layers of paper towels. Top with more paper towels and another baking sheet; weight with canned goods. Let tofu drain, about 20 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, cook broccoli (stalks and florets) in a large pot of boiling salted water until bright green, 2 minutes. Drain; set aside.

3. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add tofu; cook until golden brown, turning gently halfway through, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer to paper towels.

4.  Meanwhile, make sauce: In a small bowl, whisk together soy sauce, vinegar, red-pepper flakes, garlic, cornstarch, and 3/4 cup water; set aside.

5. Add broccoli to skillet; cook over high heat, stirring often, until crisp-tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Whisk reserved sauce to combine; pour into pan. Return tofu to pan; stir to coat, about 1 minute more. Serve topped with cashews.

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