Vegetarian Slow Cooker-Tofu

Sunday February 7, 2016

making tofu curds

Tofu in the slow cooker? Well, yes indeed.
Tofu, also called bean curd, was invented in China and Japan thousands of years ago by coagulating soy milk. The curds are pressed into smooth blocks. It can have the consistency of fragile soft custard to pretty chewy and is known for being high in protein, low in calories. The firm and extra-firm tofu is denser than silken tofu (which is better for dressings and smoothies) and good for cooking in the slow cooker as it can hold its shape. If you freeze firm and extra-firm tofu, it removes even more moisture and it can be used in sauces and slowly braised.

To Freeze Tofu

Freezing tofu changes its texture dramatically and makes it more firm and chewy. It also absorbs flavors more effectively. Remove the tofu from the water it is packaged in. Leave whole or cut in half, depending on your desired portion. Wrap in plastic and place in the freezer in a resealable freezer bag. The tofu will turn color slightly, pale yellow, which is natural. When ready to use, defrost the tofu in the refrigerator overnight or steam for 15 minutes. Squeeze out as much water as you can with your hands. It is now ready to be sliced, crumbled in a food processor, or cubed for addition to recipes.

Gingered Vegetables and Tofu

This recipe just fascinates me; it is so simple. A basic preparation instead of stir-frying, the vegetables braise in their own juices. You can vary the vegetables seasonally or add some minced jalapeño chile for some heat. Serve with rice or over Chinese noodles, available in the refrigerated section of the produce section of the supermarket.

Overview

Recommended Size: 1 1/2- to 3- quart cooker

Machine Setting: Low

Cook Time: 5 1/2 to 6 hours
Serves 2

Ingredients

1 to 2 tablespoons avocado oil or olive oil

1/3 cup thin-sliced white onion (about 1/2 of a medium onion)

1 cup sliced celery

1 cup diced zucchini

1 cup cauliflower florets

3 baby bok choy, stem end sliced off to make loose leaves

4 fresh shiitake mushrooms, stem removed and thin sliced

2 cups shredded Napa cabbage

1/3 cup pea pods, fresh or frozen thawed, cut in half

1 tablespoon minced fresh peeled ginger

8 canned whole baby corn, drained

2 fresh water chestnuts, peeled and sliced (or 4 canned)

1/2 pound firm tofu, drained and cubed, or crumbled

2 tablespoons sliced green onions, for serving

Low-sodium soy-sauce or umeboshi vinegar, for serving

Instructions

Drizzle the oil in the crock and rub around the bottom and sides. Add the vegetables and tofu to the crock in the order given and toss gently.

Cover and cook on LOW for 5 1/2 to 6 hours, until the vegetables are tender.  Serve hot sprinkled with green onions with some soy sauce or umeboshi vinegar drizzled over.

Vegetarian Posole Verde

During the testing of the first slow cooker book, one of my testers contributed a vegetarian posole. Well, I ended up loving it and making variations on it, like this one with tart tomatillos.  Posole is a whole corn hominy stew and very much tasty comfort food; traditional versions are made with pork. This is one of the easiest ways to use fresh tomatillos; they have a unique, very fresh flavor. Don’t forget all the garnishes; they make the soup really special.

Overview

Recommended Size: 3- quart cooker

Machine Setting: High for 1 hour, then Low

Cook Time: About 4 hours

Serves 2 with leftovers

Ingredients

1 medium white onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small dried hot red chili, seeded and chopped

4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth

10 tomatillos, husked, rinsed, and coarsely chopped

1 4-ounce can chopped roasted green chiles, drained

1 28-ounce can white or yellow hominy, drained

1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano leaves
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

To Serve:
Shredded iceberg lettuce
Sliced radishes
Chopped red onion

Crumbled feta cheese
Diced avocado

Cubed extra-firm tofu
Toasted pumpkin seeds
Chopped fresh cilantro leaves
Lime wedges

Place all the ingredients in the crock, except cilantro, salt, and pepper.  Cover and cook on HIGH for 1 hour, then LOW for about 4 hours.

The last hour of cooking add the cilantro and season to taste. Serve in shallow soup bowls with warm flour tortillas and go wild with your choice of garnishes available in separate bowls, squeezing lime juice all over.

Excerpted from Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker Cookbook for Two, by Beth Hensperger. (c) 2006, used by permission from the Harvard Common Press.

Recipe and text copyright Beth Hensperger 2016

Please enjoy the recipe and make it your own. If you copy the recipe and text for internet use, please include my byline and link to my site.


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