Grilled Tofu Sandwich with Spicy Coleslaw

 

Grilled Tofu & Spicy Cole Slaw Sandwich
Grilled Tofu and Spicy Coleslaw Sandwich, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

Let’s face it: if you don’t enjoy some grilled food during the fleeting late spring, you are totally missing out. And even if you are a committed vegan or a plant-based eater you should not stay grill deprived.

I’ve already showed you how to make phenomenal grilled portobello mushroom steaks, and flavorful grilled eggplant. Today is the day when we cross the Rubicon of vegan grilling with a Grilled Tofu recipe. Trust me: once you try it, you will not be going back!

Before I dive into the details, I have to give credit where credit is due. In this case it all comes down to a fabulous Tofu Bacon recipe developed by The Buddhist Chef. I made that bacon quite a few times and it is absolutely amazing. That recipe inspired me to look for other ways to cook tofu and get it taste and look in a way you would never expect. So here I decided to see whether I can optimize tofu for grilling.

What I discovered is that for successful grilled tofu you do need to cut thicker slices, so I recommend slices that are about 1/2 in (1.5 cm) in thickness. What you’ll need to do is start from extra firm tofu and drain it really well. I left my block of tofu in a strainer and put a heavy can on top to help the draining. Let it sit for one to two hours then pat dry and slice.

The sliced tofu goes into a marinade, and this is a critical step because no matter how good your grilling skills are, tofu is so subtle tasting that grilling it as is will not produce a rich flavor.  The marinade I use builds on the Tofu Bacon recipe by using liquid smoke, smoked paprika, chili powder, and cumin, which all work together towards giving tofu the extra smoky aroma. You will need a bit of oil in this marinade, as well as a bit of steak sauce or vegan Worcestershire sauce. Let the tofu marinate for about an hour, then grill it on high and enjoy with your favorite add-ons.

On this occasion I went with a simple steamed corn on the cob, toasted bread, and vegan spicy coleslaw. For this coleslaw you can use any vegan mayo you like, including store bought one. I recommend adding some ground mustard for extra punch. The coleslaw and grilled tofu work incredibly well – they are match made in heaven!

Grilled Tofu Tray
Grilled Tofu, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

Grilled Tofu Sandwich with Spicy Coleslaw

What you’ll need:

FOR GRILLED TOFU

2 14 oz. (400 g) extra firm tofu

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 tablespoon vegan Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon liquid smoke

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1 teaspoon chili powder

Vegetable oil (to oil grill grates)

Bread for serving

FOR SPICY COLESLAW

16 oz (454 g) bag of Coleslaw mix (or 2 cups shredded green cabbage plus 1 cup shredded carrots)

1/2 cup vegan mayo

3 tablespoons white vinegar

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

2 teaspoons ground mustard seeds

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon salt


What you’ll do:

  1. In a large bowl, mix all the Spicy Coleslaw ingredients together, cover with plastic wrap and set aside for couple of hours. Coleslaw needs some time to “mature”, mostly because cabbage needs a bit of time to soften and become smooth and more palatable.
  2. Drain the tofu and leave in the strainer for 2-3 hours. You can do this overnight in which case leave the tofu blocks in the refrigerator, or you can use any other method of pressing tofu you are used to.
  3. Once the tofu is pressed/drained, slice each block into 8 slices. Arrange in a single layer, in a deep baking dish or any other type of a container with a flat bottom that will allow your tofu slices to rest flat and absorb the marinade.
  4. To make a marinade mix all the ingredients (except bread and oil you need for the grill grate). Mix well and pour over the tofu slices.
  5. Marinate tofu slices for 1-2 hours.
  6. When ready to grill, prepare your grill as you usually do. In my case this means turning all the burners on (I have a gas grill) to full blast, closing the lid and letting any bits and pieces of food from last time burn off for 10 minutes. Then, I turn down the flames, scrape the grill grates well, and oil them with fresh batch of vegetable oil.
  7. For grilling tofu I recommend medium high to high flames, so bring the flame up and place the tofu pieces on. Grill for 5-10 minutes on one side, brush on the marinade, flip them over and grill for another 5-8 minutes. If you like the classical grill marks, you will need to rotate your tofu by about 45 degrees and let it grill some more. If doing that, I suggest you keep brushing on the marinade so your tofu does not dry out.
  8. Keep your grilled tofu tightly wrapped in some foil, to keep it hot while you grill or toast the bread. Once the bread is ready, place a good amount of spicy coleslaw on and top with grilled tofu. I like my sandwiches open faced by you can definitely make this into a standard sandwich, or a wrap. Serve with some grilled or boiled corn for a summer meal worth sharing!

 

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2017

A Very Beefy Veggie Burger

"Beef" Veggie Burger
“Beef” Veggie Burger, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow
For many researching and investing into meat alternatives, making a plant-based burger that looks, cooks and tastes like real beef has become one of the most important goals. Several years ago, I heard Pat Brown, founder and CEO of Impossible Foods, give a talk and one thing Pat mentioned was how incredibly hard it is to re-create a plant-based hamburger. Burgers are such a huge part of American culture, so offering a meatless alternative is unlikely to convince anyone to go meat-free unless that alternative is spot on, juicy and meaty.

But, lets be honest: veggie burgers are definitely not hitting this mark. For the most part, they are a mix of vegetables thrown together and shaped into a patty that usually falls apart as you are grilling it. I know this sounds mean, but it is what it is. I myself have been down the road of trying to figure out how to keep my veggie burgers together while at the same time make them taste authentic many times before. Some attempts have been a total failure, some, like this Roasted Red Peppers and Chickpea Burger, have been a success.

Don’t get me wrong – I love veggie burgers! They have amazing flavors and textures, and they are fun to eat. Also: I am not a fan of hamburgers, but I live in a land of hamburger lovers so I agree with Pat Brown’s general idea that in order to convince people to give up their meat we need to offer them something incredible to sizzle on the grill and stick inside the bun. And just in case you are wondering whether there is any such thing available in retail stores, you should head out to your local Whole Foods Market and get some Beyond Meat‘s The Beyond Burger. I had it few nights ago and it blew my mind!

So although I am most certainly going to be getting those burgers again, they do come with a relatively unfriendly price tag, which means I am where I started: trying to home brew an impossible, incredible and all-around awesome meat-free burger. This recipe for A Very Beefy Veggie Burger is one step closer to achieving that ideal combination of flavor, texture and grillability and the tip top secret of this recipe is to use TVP (Textured Vegetable Protein) without pre-soaking and letting it absorb all the ground mushroom and mashed beans juices. This batch of burgers was cooked in a grill pan because the weather in New England has been very rainy lately and I just could not wait to make these, but the patties are firm enough to withstand the ultimate test of an outdoor grill.

As for condiments, sky is truly the limit. I paired these burgers with some Vegan Herb Mayo, cucumber and tomato slices, butter lettuce and Roasted Red Beets Hummus, but you can use anything you like. The flavor of these patties is very, very similar to what you can expect from a hamburger, but the texture and juiciness does need more work. Still, I will try, try, try again until I develop the recipe for a mouth-watering, and inexpensive, beef-less burger. As Silicon Valley is now funding these types of efforts, perhaps I can re-write the stereotype of “two guys in a garage” into “one woman in the kitchen” story? That would be fun!!!

Very Beefy Plant-Based Burger
Very Beefy Plant-Based Burger, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow
Note: Just in case you are asking yourself why we should go meatless, Bill Gates offered some well-articulated arguments in the Future of Food post few years ago.

 

A Very Beefy Veggie Burger

What you’ll need:

2 15.5 oz (439 g) cans of Roman (cranberry) beans

1 cup TVP (Textured Vegetable Protein; I used Bob’s Red Mill TVP)

8 oz. (227 g) baby bella mushrooms

2 tablespoons almond butter

2 tablespoons nutritional yeast

1 tablespoon soy sauce, reduced sodium

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, vegan

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon garlic powder

Cooking spray

 

What you’ll do:

  1. Drain and rinse the beans. Pat dry and place in the large mixing bowl.
  2. Use a food processor to grind the mushrooms. Add the mushroom meat to the mixing bowl.
  3. Add TVP and the rest of the ingredients (except the cooking spray) into the bowl and use the immersion blender to blend everything into a mixture that looks like ground beef, with the same type of texture. You can also do this step in the food processor.
  4. Let the mixture stand for 30 to 60 minutes on the kitchen counter, then shape the burgers and leave them in the refrigerator for about an hour to firm up. This will give TVP time to soak up all the juice from mushrooms and bean and soften just enough to give a nice ground beef texture to the burger without making it too soft and crumbly.
  5. Heat the grill or the grill pan on high and make sure that your grill grate or your pan are generously oiled. Reduce the heat to medium before putting your burgers on. Grill for 4 to 5 minutes on one side, then flip over and grill for additional 4 to 5 minutes.
  6. Put your burger buns on the grill for a minute or two to toast them gently, then top with mayo, burger, cucumber slices, tomatoes, lettuce, roasted beet hummus or whatever floats your boat – and bite in!!!

Correction: the original post said “yeast extract” but that’s not correct. I used nutritional yeast so I made the correction now. Thanks to Mary Dion for flagging this to me on Facebook!!!

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2017

Roasted Red Peppers Chickpea Burgers

Roasted Red Pepper Chickpea Burger
Roasted Red Pepper Chickpea Burgers, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

There are many things that every time I make then turn out perfect and exactly as I want them. Well, veggie burgers ain’t that! I’ve tried many veggie burger recipes and had failure after failure to reckon with.

The main issue with most of the veggie burger recipes I tried (and failed at) is that the burger consistency is just so delicate that they fall apart as they are cooked. One way to make the veggie burgers sturdier is to use a grain or a flour based binder, like bread crumbs, which I use in my Vegan Jackfruit “Crab” Cakes, or oats, which I used in my Meatless Meatballs. But, I really wanted to see if I can skip using those in a burger.

The recipe I came up with uses chickpeas – in all honestly because I bought one too many cans of chickpeas at a recent sale – and some roasted red peppers, for color and flavor. It also uses sunflower seeds that add a different texture, a bit of crunch, good amount of healthy fats and a good amount of iron, which is something that I keep in mind when cooking given that meat, a great source of dietary iron, is off my table. Additionally, a key ingredient that glues the burgers together is “flax egg”, which is flax meal soaked in water which turns it gooey and slimy, just like egg!  The mix comes together really quickly and all you need will be a stick (hand-held) blender or a food processor.

Roasted Red Pepper Chickpea Burger Mix
Roasted Red Pepper Chickpea Burgers Mix, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

The rest of the preparation does take a bit of time but really not much effort because you will let the fridge or a freezer do some work for you. Placing formed patties into a fridge or a freezer to firm up is officially the greatest tip ever. It helped my Jackfruit “Crab” Cakes, and I can now say it most certainly helped these Roasted Red Pepper Chickpea Burgers. I recommend keeping the patties in the freezer for quite a bit, until they are almost frozen on the edges, because these burgers are still gentle and soft while they cook. They do come together as they cool off and they will be great when you serve them, but you will need to be gentle and careful when you flip them so give the patties plenty of room.

Roasted Red Peppers Chickpea Burgers in the Pan
Roasted Red Peppers Chickpea Burgers in the Pan, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

Leave the burgers to cool just for couple of minutes. As I mentioned, they will come out of the pan pretty soft and they will get firmer as they cool. You can serve these burgers any way you like your burgers served, in a bun or without. They have a delicious, just slightly sweet flavor from the roasted red peppers and the lovely browning they get as they cook.

Could you bake or broil these? I think that would work. Could you form patties, freeze them and then cook them a week later? I don’t see why not. But in that case I recommend thawing for a bit before letting them hit the griddle. Could these be grilled? Well, sorry to disappoint you but I don’t think so. But, this is not to say that I am not going to try. After all, experimenting is half the fun…

Roasted Red Pepper Chickpea Burger
Roasted Red Pepper Chickpea Burgers, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

Roasted Red Pepper Chickpea Burgers

What you’ll need:

3 15.5 oz (439 g) cans chickpeas (garbanzo beans), low sodium

1/2 cup roasted red peppers, homemade or store bought (jarred in water)

1/4 cup sunflower seeds, roasted and unsalted

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1 teaspoon soy sauce

2 tablespoon flax meal

4 tablespoons hot water

Cooking spray

What you’ll do:

    1. In a mixing/measuring cup mix flax meal and hot water. Stir well and let stand for 15-30 minutes.
    2. Place the chickpeas in a large colander or a strainer. Rinse well and drain.
    3. Put chickpeas, roasted red peppers, sunflower seeds, “flax eggs”, and all the spices in a large and deep mixing bowl (or the food processor if that’s what you are using instead of the stick blender) and blend until mostly blended. I like some texture to the burgers so I do leave some bigger chunks around, but follow your taste buds and preferences here.
    4. Line a flat serving platter or a tray with wax paper. Using your hands shape the burgers and place them on the tray. This amount of the burger mix makes about 8 good size burgers. Put the burgers in the freezer for 30-45 minutes of refrigerator for 2-3 hours. If using the freezer method make sure the patties are not frozen through but still soft in the middle and mostly solid at the edges. If you are using the refrigerator, the patties need to give some resistance when you poke them.
    5. Spray the bottom of your frying pan with cooking spray and heat over high heat. Put 3-4 burgers in at a time, how many depends on the size of your pan and it’s important to keep in mind that these burgers are on a softer side so need some extra space around them to help with moving around and flipping. Cook for 4-5 minutes on one side, carefully flip around and cook for another 3-4 minutes.
    6. Let the cooked burgers rest for 5 minutes or so, then serve!

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2017

Jackfruit Tacos

jackfruit-tacco
Jackfruit tacos, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

I never had jackfruit in my life until last night. And just like that this weird plant food became one of my favorite ingredients and the one I want to use in as many of my dishes as possible. What is jackfruit?

Jackfruit is a popular ingredient in South and Southeast Asian cooking, but it remains obscure to most living in the Western world. This means that finding jackfruit may turn out to be difficult as your regular grocery store is unlikely to carry it. But, let me tell you: jackfruit is so wonderful that it is worth jumping through few hoops to get it. My starting point were online retailers, like Amazon, and that would have been fine has it not been for the fact that I wanted to start cooking right away and could not wait for the delivery.

So I got down to plan B and found a local Asian market, in my case Formosa Marketplace, and the place did not disappoint. They got exactly what I was looking for – young jackfruit in brine. Jackfruit also comes ripe in syrup, but that is not the kind that you want for your savory dishes, plus it is not the kind that seems particularly healthy given all that added sugar.  If you are interested in learning more about jackfruit and getting the idea what type of dishes you can use it in, the Vegetarian Resource Group has a useful post.

How do you get from a can of young jackfruit to a taco filling? It’s super easy. All you need to do is rinse the jackfruit and let it drain and dry. Once the jackfruit stops dripping, you will need to go and pull the fruit pieces apart, which does take a bit of effort and time but makes for more surface area to absorb all the lovely flavors you will add next.

Although you could use a pre-made taco seasoning mix, there’s no need for that as those usually contain quite a lot of quite unnecessary salt. One additional ingredient that you will need is almond cheese. I have not yet figured out how to make almond cheese on my own, so for now I get the one from my local Trader Joe’s. They carry shredded almond cheese that is delicious and affordable.

When all is said and done, your jackfruit taco filling will look something like this.

jack-fruit-tacco-filling
Jackfruit Taco filling, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

To build tacos, you will also need corn tortillas, but possibilities are close to endless. You can customize your tacos by adding salsa, avocado, fire roasted green chili peppers, cilantro, lime juice, and shredded iceberg lettuce. For me some cucumber slices and pearl tomatoes on the side hit the spot!

Jackfruit Tacos

What you’ll need (for 4 tacos, 2 people):

1 10 oz. (280 g) can of young jackfruit in brine

1 onion, finely diced

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 lime, just juice

1/4 cup water

4 corn tortillas, soft

1/2 cup almond cheese

cooking spray

What you’ll do:

  1. Place jackfruit in a strainer and rinse it well with water to get rid of the salty brine. Let the jackfruit drain for 15-20 min, and then pat dry with a paper, or a cloth towel. Next, pull the jackfruit pieces apart to get a pile of finer shreds.
  2. Spray the bottom of a pan with cooking spray and turn the heat to medium high. Add finely diced onion and minced garlic to the pan and let the onion and garlic aromas develop for 3-5 min.
  3. Next add the spices and let them simmer for 1-2 min. This will help the spices toast and intensify the flavor. Don’t worry if some of your spices, onion or garlic stick to the bottom of the pan as lime juice and water that you’ll add next will serve to deglaze the bottom. You may need to adjust the amount of water as you go along, so I recommend starting easy by adding 1-2 tablespoons and going from there.
  4. Once you are happy with the deglazing and the consistency, which should be somewhere between the ketchup and tomato paste, it’s time to add jackfruit. Make sure jackfruit is fully coated with your sauce, and simmer for 5-10 min, until jackfruit browns just slightly. Leave to the side.
  5. Heat a non-stick frying pan with cooking spray and place over high heat. Put one corn tortilla in, top it with jackfruit filing and 1/4 of your cheese and fold the tortilla over. Brown on one side for 1-2 min then flip over and brown on the other side for 1 min or so.
  6. Enjoy!

Note: You can use leftover taco filling in number of different ways. You can top a sandwich, or rice and other grains, as well as pasta or zucchini spaghetti

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2017