For those of you who don’t like tofu, I want to make a case for it. If you are already sold on tofu, skip to paragraph 2 below. Saying that tofu has no flavor is like saying an uncooked chicken breast tastes gross. I’ve never had one, but I’m assuming you have to season and cook a piece of chicken for it to taste good. Tofu is no different. It picks up the flavor of just about anything you mix it with or coat it with and the texture is suitable for pan frying, deep frying, steaming, sauteing and so on and on. I use it a lot in our dinners because sometimes just a bowl of pasta or just stir fried veggies isn’t enough. I need a little extra oomph to chew on, to fill my belly up, to get a protein fix. You can use it like you would use ground beef in chili. You can substitute it for paneer, Indian farmer’s cheese, or potatoes for a healthier alternative. You can crumble it up and substitute it for scrambled eggs. The possibilities are quite endless.
These tofu medallions are a mix of crumbled, chunky tofu and pureed creamy tofu, peppery arugula, bread crumbs, garlic, Italian seasoning and nutty garlic rounded off with a sprinkle of red pepper for a little kick. I love nothing more than slurping up a big bowl of saucy spaghetti. But adding a few tofu medallions on top gives a nice crunchy/chewy addition that’s light on the waistline and provides you with some needed protein.
Inspired by Robin Bellinger’s Sesame Scallion Tofu Patties
A teaspoon of lemon zest, chopped parsley, diced green chilis, sesame seeds or a sprinkle of parmesan cheese would be great additions to these tofu medallions. Avoid anything that will let off liquid, like chopped tomatoes (unless maybe if you deseed them), because it might create problems when you pan fry the medallions. Medallions would also be great over a salad or rice.
1 block of extra firm tofu
1. Squeeze the block of tofu to remove excess water. See below for tips on doing this.
2. Take three fourths of the block and crumble it in a mixing bowl with your hands. Add the baby arugula, breadcrumbs, Italian seasoning, salt and chili flakes.
3. Saute the garlic until translucent then add to the mixing bowl.
4. Puree the remaining one fourth of the tofu in a food processor until creamy. Add it to the mixing bowl with the other ingredients and use your hands to mix the ingredients together.
5. Taste a little pinch and adjust as needed for salt and spice. Allow to rest for about 5 minutes if you have time.
6. Scoop up enough of the mixture to fit into the palm of your hand and shape it into a ball then pat into a flat patty about one fourth an inch thick. Place on a flat, dry surface and repeat until all of the mixture is used.
7. Heat a flat, wide skillet on medium heat and coat the pan with olive oil. Place the medallions into the pan (don’t crowd the pan) and cook on each side for about 4-5 minutes until golden. GENTLY flip with a wide spatula (using a fork with your other hand makes it easier) and cook the other side.
*An easy way to make plain breadcrumbs at home is to take a slice of bread and bake it on low heat (around 250 degrees) until crunchy. Break the slice into small pieces and then food process until crumbled.
Removing water from tofu: If you don’t remove the excess water from tofu, you can end up with really bland, watery tofu. There are a few different methods that I use to drain the water depending on how much time I have:
1 – The Long Method: Place the block of tofu on a plate with another plate on top it and a heavy-ish object (like a sugar bowl). Don’t weigh it down too much because you don’t the tofu to crumble. Leave it to drain and periodically dump the water. After about 30 minutes or so, place the tofu between two paper towels and gently squeeze out any remaining water.
2 – The Quick Method: Wrap the block of tofu in two paper towels. Holding it over the sink, gently squeeze with both hands until all of the water comes out.