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.


Jennifer said...

Good point about how it is difficult to eat "traditional" American foods that are vegan. We really don't have many that are vegan "naturally", so we have to adapt the recipes how we can. Most other countries really do have many more options (some almost exclusively) for non-meat, dairy, egg, honey eaters.

I am with you though, it is not at all as if I don't love the worldly cuisine I eat on a regular basis, I just wish there was something more from my "roots" if you will, that I could make, something American that is vegan. The closest I have been able to come up with to the "All American (Vegan) Meal" has been Veganomicon's Chickpea Cutlets smothered with Mushroom gravy, garlic mashed potatoes, and a salad.

That Jerk Tofu looks yummy! Nava Atlas has a lot of good recipes, eh? Is your boyfriend an omni? The reason I ask is that you seemed a bit surprised that he ate all his tofu. My boyfriend is a omni, but luckily for me he is very excepting and willing to try new things. I know many 'o men who would not be caught dead within ten feet of tofu, let alone a lot of the other "weird" things we eat.

T said...

I've been meaning to try those chickpea cutlets! Lets see if I can sell my parents on something other than tofu.
My bf is an omi, I guess, but meat and animal products really dominate his diet so he's tough to cook for. Its a fun challenge to try and get him to eat healthier without being preachy. ("Hamburgers for lunch AND dinner?! Eat some KALE!")
And yeah, now that I've successfully tried that recipe I'm looking into getting Atlas' cookbook- supposedly it is full of quick family meals.

ChocolateCoveredVegan said...

I'm definitely going to add that jerk tofu to my list of things to try.

Lizzy said...

Hey, thanks a lot for leaving a note on my blog! =)
The cream cheese is worth a try and usually I'm not too excited about homemade stuff because I always feel it's a lot of work, but this was prepared quickly. I added more salt, pepper, garlic and onions though since it was way too for stale for me.

The Jerk Tofu looks great, I think I might try this recipe!