Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Tofu Almondine in a White Wine-Butter Sauce

I recently spearheaded a very informal survey in which I asked my readers if they liked tofu or not. Overwhelmingly, the answer was that it really depended on how it is prepared. I can assure you that this recipe would pass the test. I mean, the tofu is accompanied by sweet, toasted almonds and a buttery white wine sauce. What could be better than this vegetarian take on a New Orleans classic?

The sauce is the key to the deliciousness of this dish. I try to be calorically frugal, so I used it sparingly. However, the pan with the sauce in it found its way to the dinner table where it was further drizzled with abandon.

Vegans, try this recipe with Earth Balance and coconut milk. I'd love to hear how it turns out.

Tofu Almondine
(serves two)

1/2 cup almonds (toasted in a dry pan until lightly browned)

1 block extra firm tofu
1/4 teaspoon each: sea salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, paprika
1/4 cup flour
1/8 cup canola oil 
1 tablespoon butter
White Wine-Butter Sauce (recipe follows)
1 tablespoon chopped parsley (to garnish)

Cut the tofu into six 'filets' that are thicker on one side than the other, i.e., they come to a point in a way. Season both sides of the tofu with sea salt, black paper, red pepper flakes, and paprika. 

Place 1/4 cup of flour on a large dinner plate. Dredge each filet on both sides and shake off any excess flour. Heat a 12-inch skillet to medium heat and add the canola and butter. Once the butter has melted, gently lay seasoned, dreaded tofu filet into the pan; this is best done in batches of three. Cook tofu for 4-5 minutes on the first side of until golden brown. Flip each piece and repeat the same cooking process for the other side. Removed cooked tofu filet to a cookie sheet and keep warm in a 300 degree oven until ready to serve.

To serve, place one tofu filet on a bed of wilted greens or potato hash, drizzle a teaspoon of sauce over it, and then add a few toasted almonds. Repeat by stacking the filets three high. To finish, drizzle the sauce around the plate and garnish with a little chopped parsley.

White Wine-Butter Sauce:

2 tablespoons butter (divided)
1/2 cup shallot (diced)
1 lemon
2 tablespoons Worcestershire (vegetarian)
1 teaspoon sugar
2 dried bay leaves
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup of half and half

In a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat, melt one tablespoon of butter and sauté the shallot in butter until shallot appears translucent -- this should take about two minutes. Cut lemon in half and add the juice from the lemon and also the rind to the pan. (Don't worry about seeds; you will strain this sauce later.) Add the worcestershire sauce, sugar, bay leaves, pepper and wine to the pan. Allow mixture to reduce by half or until it begins to look syrupy. 

Add the half and half to the mixture, and then strain the whole thing through a fine-mesh strainer. Rinse the pan of any debris and then return the strained sauce to the pan. Keep warm until ready to serve. Just before serving, whisk in the remaining tablespoon of butter. This process is known as mounting a sauce with butter, and it results in a very rich and flavorful sauce.