Moroccan Spiced Vegetables and Lemon Tofu

Things are busy around here. Hubs has been job hunting for the past couple of months, which has involved lots of meet-ups and networking events.  I’ve had regular evening clients at the gym, along with work to do for my dietetics program. To ensure that we have reasonably nutritious dinners, it has become even more important to plan our meals, stock up on groceries, and make dinners that will last more than one night. Combinations of protein, vegetables, and whole grains tend to fit the bill, providing a variety of nutrients, and acting as a palette for herbs and spices. I’m going to explain the thought process in case anyone out there is trying to figure out how to develop a recipe.

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When planning a meal, I usually start with a general idea, and then decide on the specifics as I go along. In this case, I decided on tofu, wild rice, and roasted vegetables. I then decided on cauliflower and carrots, based on textures, flavors, and nutrients. Carrots and cumin are often paired together, which evolved into the decision to use Moroccan spices with the vegetables. I turned to Yotam Ottolenghi’s book Plenty for ideas, and I ended up adapting the flavors used in his “Spicy Moroccan Carrot Salad.” I was dry-frying the tofu while the vegetables were roasting, and I decided that some acidity was needed to balance out the sweet, spicy flavors of the vegetables, so I went with fresh lemon juice on the tofu. Honestly, I wasn’t sure if it was going to work, but it totally did. Sure, I could have done more with the tofu, but I was trying to keep it simple for a weeknight. I tried to find a decent photo of the meal, but I couldn’t. I’m a terrible photographer. You will just have to take my word for it that it is delicious.

Moroccan Spiced Vegetables and Lemon Tofu

14 oz. firm or extra-firm tofu (I use Nasoya Lite Firm Tofu)

1 lemon

1 head of cauliflower

3 large carrots

1 onion

3 garlic cloves

Red bell pepper

2 tbsp olive oil

Pinch of ground cloves

1/8 tsp ground ginger

1/4 tsp ground coriander

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp smoked paprika

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1/4 cup cilantro leaves

Preheat oven to 375°F. Prepare wild rice, or grain of your choice, according to the package directions. While the rice is cooking, drain the water from the tofu, wrap the tofu in a clean kitchen towel or paper towels, and place a bowl or other weight on top to gently squeeze out excess water. While the tofu is pressing, begin preparing the vegetables. Combine the dried spices in a small bowl. Chop the vegetables (excluding cilantro) into bite-sized pieces and place into a shallow baking pan. Drizzle the olive oil over the vegetables, mix to combine, add the spices, and mix again. Cook for approximately 30 minutes, stirring the vegetables halfway through. 10 minutes before the vegetables are done, heat a nonstick frying pan over medium heat. It is VERY important to use a nonstick pan for this cooking method since you are not using any oil. Remove the towels from the tofu,  slice the tofu into small triangles or rectangles, and place into the frying pan in a single layer. Cook on one side for about 5 minutes, gently pressing down on each piece with a spatula. Once the tofu is golden brown on the bottom, flip over, and cook on the other side for another 5 minutes, or until golden brown. Lower the heat to “low,” and squeeze lemon juice over the tofu, stirring to coat. Serve with wild rice and vegetables, and garnish vegetables with fresh cilantro.

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