Yesterday afternoon, when I was at the co-op picking out a red bell pepper for my kabobs, I ran into my friend Christine, who was also picking out red peppers. I asked her today what she made, and she brought my attention to a recipe called Spicy Thai Tofu with Red Bell Peppers and Peanuts in the June issue of Bon Appetite. As I had some tofu and red pepper leftover from yesterday, as well as some spinach from this weekend’s farmers’ market, I had to give it whirl. I wouldn’t call this dish spicy (nor would I call it Thai seeing as I served it over Japanese soba noodles), but it’s delicious nonetheless. The original recipe will be available on www.epicurious.com, though I’ve posted it below with a few important adaptations & notes. (Recipe below makes enough for one medium-sized meal.)
In a skillet, begin cooking the tofu (1/5th of a package, cubed) in a little bit of oil (I recommend using just a tad of sunflower or peanut oil, though the recipe called for copious amounts of olive oil). While the original recipe called for the tofu to be cooked in the same pan as the other ingredients, Christine and I both found that the tofu’s better prepared separately, with a longer cooking time to give it a chewier texture. I definitely prefer tofu to be more browned on the edges than pictured above (whereas Christine had the foresight to separate the tofu, I didn’t & learned my lesson the hard way!).
In another skillet (or wok, if you have one) sauté the first batch of ingredients for about 2 minutes:
1 small red bell pepper (or 1/2 a large one), cut into long strips 1 Tbsp. minced ginger 1 garlic clove, minced
Once the peppers have begun to soften, add:
1 green onion, sliced on the diagonal 1-2 Tbsp tamari (or other soy sauce) (add the mostly cooked tofu now) juice of 1/2 a lime pinch of dried crushed red pepper 2 handfuls of baby spinach 1-2 Tbsp fresh basil, chiffonaded
Stir over med heat, just long enough for the spinach to wilt. I served this over soba noodles, but rice noodles would obviously be more appropriate given the title of the original recipe :-) Top with coarsely chopped/crushed peanuts and garnish with a slice of lime.
It’s a really clean tasting dish. Seasoned so lightly and cooked so quickly, each ingredient retains its own unique flavor. Using high quality, fresh ingredients is key here.
(Thanks, Christine, for the heads up about this one :-)
2nd time around: A reprise
I made this again for lunch today, putting the tofu in first to let it brown more. I also toasted the peanuts.
And I skipped using a separate pan for the tofu; I simply put it in first, and then began adding ingredients once the tofu was partly cooked.