Jerk Tofu, Mashed Plantains, Garlicky Kale
Lately it seems to me that I exclusively make and eat food from other cultures. This bothers me since there is obviously such a rich culinary tradition in the U.S. and plenty of things I haven't tried (and God forbid I disavow my southern heritage!). But the fact of the matter is, almost every other country is more veggie-friendly than us. (With the exception of maybe cream-soaked France.) My daily diet rarely consists of what I would consider 'merican food- its more like hummus and pita, beans and rice, pad thai, ect. And I have a sneaking suspicion that if you cut me I would bleed curry sauce. With the variety of vegetarian delicacies available, I hardly ever get around to mac and cheese, or shephard's pie, no matter how many good vegan versions there are. But when you want people to get excited about vegan food, there shouldn't be the sense that you have to use exotic ingredients or spices at every meal.
But of course it should come as no surprise that when I got to choose dinner for last night I stuck again to another culture and chose Jerk Tofu with various other carribean accoutrements. The set-up got me thinking about how I might make a dinner of a main item and 3 sides that my parents would adore, that was totally familiar and U.S. American. I may even tackle the V'Con chickpea cutlets everyone is so enamored of...
Anyways, for the Jerk tofu recipe I used Nava Atlas' recipe, subbing tofu for seitan because I was having a hard time tracking down seitan yesterday. (Alas- most big supermarkets around here are just getting Earth Balance so seitan is a real long-shot.) The recipe was easy, produced enough for 5 people with multiple servings, and was generally tasty.(As evinced by my meat-devotee boyfriend finishing all his tofu.) My only quibble was that for a sauce so sweet, a little more heat would have enhanced it. I'm not sure if I want to start subjecting my family to scotch bonnet peppers, but maybe adding 1 roasted anaheim pepper into the mix would have enhanced things. But, overall, this recipe was pretty amazing.
As for the sides, rice and beans is a no-brainer. The plantains and kale were only slightly more time consuming, and went great with the Jerk Tofu. For the Mashed Plaintains just slice 4 or 5 ripe (ie, not green) plaintains lengthwise, and fry them until soft and brown in a few knobs of Earth Balance and brown sugar (use some olive oil if you need to). I usually use a cast-iron skillet for this. Then, take them into a bowl and mash them (or use a ricer if you have one) with some soymilk, a pinch of salt, and more EB. Return them to the skillet and fry as a flat sort of pancake for about five more minutes, flip over, and put back in the bowl. The result is a sticky, starchy side that compliments the kale well.
For the Garlicky Kale, first rinse and cut or tear into pieces a good amount of kale, or half a bag of the pre-rinsed stuff. Dice 2-3 large cloves of garlic and let sit for a few minutes to make it extra healthy. Then, in a spaghetti pot or other large covered pot, heat 2 T olive oil on medium low-medium heat and add in your garlic. When its sizzling and fragrant, add in your kale, and using tongs quickly toss to coat with the oil and garlic. Next, sprinkle in some H2O (like 1/4 c.) and put the cover on. Let sit for about 5 minutes and serve.
*Extra Extra* The Times has an article about the environmental and economic cost of meat production by non-vegetarian Mark Bittman. Check it out here.