After a vegan friend came over for dinner, the shrink-wrapped package of tofu that she'd brought along to eat languished in my refrigerator. Frankly, I didn't know what to do with it. So instead of challenging myself to find a decent recipe, I ignored it for as long as possible, until the consume-by date loomed close. I hate wasting food, but it's possible that I hate tofu even more.
Eventually I landed at 101 Cookbooks, where I stumbled on this recipe for caramelized tofu with shredded Brussels sprouts. The tofu (preferably firm) is sliced into strips and seared with oil, garlic, and pecans, then finished with dark brown sugar to give it a fabulous sweet-savory coating. Then the Brussels sprouts go into the pan so they pick up all the good pan residue and become crisp and golden. The result was a lightning-quick dinner with very satisfying, balanced flavors. The only part I didn't like? The rubbery tofu. Oh well.
- 8 ounces extra-firm tofu, cut into thin 1-inch segments
- 3 tablespoons olive or peanut oil
- 2 medium cloves garlic, minced
- 1/3 cup pecans, toasted and chopped
- 3 tablespoons fine-grain natural cane sugar or brown sugar
- 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
- 1/2 pound Brussels sprouts, washed, ends trimmed off, and cut into 1/8-inch wide ribbons
- Salt to taste
Heat a large skillet and add the oil over medium heat. Add the tofu with a pinch of salt and cook until lightly browned, then add the garlic and pecans and cook until the garlic is soft and fragrant, about one minute.
Lower the heat and stir in the sugar, stirring often to avoid burning. Remove from heat and add the cilantro, then transfer to a warm plate.
Add the Brussels sprouts to the pan and stir and scrape to combine with any pan residue. Season with salt and cook, stirring only occasionally to promote browning, until there are golden bits and the sprouts turn a brighter hue.
Transfer to plates, top with the tofu, and serve.