Thursday, March 25, 2010

Ruby Chard, Tangy Marinade

Tonight we ate the ruby chard in a tangy and flavorful tofu dish, served over a medley of whole grains that included spelt and barley. I can't remember the third grain! These grains cook up in about 15 minutes - even faster than a pot of white rice, and to my palate, possibly even more tasty. The grain medley came from Trader Joe's (be still, my beating heart!).

So for the tofu dish ...

I know, that looks like a bloody pool of juice on the plate. My husband certainly thought so - a moment of cognitive dissonance.

The chard tonight was so fresh, the pert green leaves veined with red and the stems a shocking beet-pink. It was simply perfect. Last week's chard may have been on its last legs when I cooked it up toward the end of the week, but tonight's was bright and lovely.

I used a recipe from Moosewood Collective Cooks at Home: Fast and Easy Recipes for Any Day. This is one of the first books I got when I was learning to cook. It spans a number of ethnic cuisines and uses ingredients that are easy to source. I would recommend it for the budding cook and for anyone who is looking to incorporate more easy, meatless dishes into their diet. I don't use it every week, but I do use it! (It has a very approachable pad thai recipe that uses kitchen staples to mimic the unique flavors of Thai cuisine, such as tamarind.)

Basically, the recipe had me do the following:

Make a marinade: Combine 1/2 cup soy sauce, 1/2 cup dry sherry (I used 1/4 cup - it's all I had left), 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar, and 3 tablespoons brown sugar. Place all ingredients in a pot, bring to a boil, and cook for one minute. Remove from heat.

Tofu: Recipe called for 1.5 pounds of tofu, but I only had 1 pound of super frim (dense and chewy) tofu. Slice into 1/2 inch thick slices, then cut each of these into blocks about one inch wide. Place in one layer in a "non-reactive" pan (I used a small ceramic casserole dish). Pour the marinade ingredients over the tofu; pour one tablespoon of veg oil over the mixture. (This was a lot of liquid - I probably could have used less!) Let sit for five minutes. While marinating, heat the broiler.

Prep chard, etc: Wash and prep one big bunch of chard (or other hearty green); remove leaves from center stems and slice into ribbons. You want about six cups - I might have had slightly less. Also, prepare lime juice (about 3 tablespoons - I would go light, not heavy on this); grate or mince two tablespoons of fresh ginger; chop 2 tablespoons of cilantro.

Cook & Assemble: Pop the tofu into the oven and heat on one side for about 8 or 9 minutes. Toward the end of this time, heat about two tablespoons veggie oil in deep saute pan or big pot over medium-high heat. Add the ginger and cook about one minute. Add the chard; stir frequently and cook for about four or five minutes.

Pull the tofu from the oven and flip it over, then pop it back in to brown the other side for about 6 minutes (longer if needed).

Once the chard is tender, add the lime juice and cilantro and stir. Add the tofu and the marinade (to taste - I added about half of what was left) and stir over the heat for about a minute. Serve over the grain of your choice!

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