Easy Broiled Tofu

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Places mi amor and I have been together: Portland, Willamette Valley, San Francisco, Russian River Valley and around Sonoma, Iowa City, Miami.

And now, we’re headed to Chicago. Danny has been there several times, joking that it’s Iowa’s best city, but this is a first-time visit for me. It will be cold. It will be fun.

We’ve got tickets for Book of Mormon and two birthdays to celebrate with his parents. We’ve got  lists of restaurants, bars, and shops to hit while meeting some friends who live in the city. I’m definitely one who likes to do a bit of research and plan a tentative itinerary so I don’t show up and waste too much time looking around for something to do. The anticipation built up with making these lists is part of the fun.

I read somewhere that it’s better to take lots of short vacations rather than one long several-week getaway. I read somewhere else that travel is very good for your well-being because it brings long-lasting happiness in several ways. There’s the build-up, which is the planning stage and fun because you’re excited about what you’ll do, see, and taste. Then there’s the actual vacation/adventure, which will be fun and new. And when you get back, there are the memories, the pictures, and the stories to boost your spirits for a long time.

That sounds about right.

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Early on in our relationship, we wrote down a list of places we wanted to go. We listed more than 30 cities. I still have that napkin. There’s a wine stain on it and it’s written in his bad reporter handwriting. Later this year, we’ll also check off Austin. Maybe soon we can cross off New Orleans and Key West. Tuscany? Might be a while before that one.

This tofu was a chance to reacquaint myself with an old book I hadn’t picked up in a while and make something light for lunch before a big trip. It’s a basic recipe to cook tofu that can then be used in all kinds of ways. Dress it in any kind of sauce, crumble it, or serve as is with some sides. The edges are browned and crisp an inside the tofu is chewy and soft.

I’m too excited to eat anything complex and rich right before a trip. I like to take it easy in preparation for hitting so many restaurants in four days. Yogurt, tofu, tea, beans, greens. Do you do this, too?

I feel like I should bake a good traveling snack before the flight, the way Heidi or Noelle would, but it’s just a quick mid-morning flight. We’ll see.

So, do you have any suggestions for visiting Chicago? Do you have a similar list of cities? Where are you traveling to this year?

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easy broiled tofu

This is a basic and quick recipe for tofu to get you started. The edges are browned and slightly crisp, but inside the triangles of tofu are chewy and soft. Take this simple tofu and throw it into any savory recipe or simply serve it up with a side of roasted vegetables and rice. 

1 pound extra-firm tofu
1/4 cup water
1 large garlic clove, minced
juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons soy sauce
olive oil

Turn on the broiler.

This is optional for this recipe, but I like to lightly press the tofu before cooking. Do this by wrapping the tofu in a couple of paper towels and placing something kinda heavy (I used my pizza stone) to weigh it down and press out some of the water. Meanwhile, make the marinade. Mix the water, garlic, lemon juice, and soy sauce in a small bowl.

Remove the weight and unwrap the tofu. Cut the block of tofu into triangles. To do this, start by slicing the block of tofu widthwise into four equal slices. Cut each slices in half widthwise to make eight squares. Cut each square in half diagonally.

Drizzle about 1 teaspoon olive oil on a small baking sheet and use a paper towel to spread it out in a thin layer. Dip each tofu triangle in the marinade and spread them all out on the baking sheet. Place the tofu in the broiler and cook until it is lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and pour a few spoonfuls of the marinade over the tofu. Don’t worry about getting the garlic on the tofu until about the last round or they’ll just burn. Return baking sheet to the oven for another 3 minutes, and then pull it out again and spoon almost all of the marinade over the tofu. Cook until golden brown and some of the edges look a bit crispy, about 3 more minutes. Serve.

Serves 4. Adapted from “Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook” by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero.

12 thoughts on “Easy Broiled Tofu

  1. Tofu is definitely a must in my life. I would eat all of this right now if I could somehow reach into my screen. I’m glad you are visiting my city! It’s the best city in the whole wide world (yes, I know everyone says this about their hometown). My favorite vegan spots? Karyn’s on Green (Greektown – Halsted and Green St.), Karyn’s Cooked (River North), Karyn’s Raw (Lincoln Park on Halsted St.).. all 3 establishments owned by Karyn Calabrese. She’s awesome. Another vegan spot I really like is Loving Hut. It’s kind of a hidden gem, really casual but cozy spot. If you are looking for a more upscale place, try Green Zebra. It’s not bad. It’s also participating in Chicago Restaurant Week, which ends this weekend. I hope that helps somewhat!

  2. If you have time, a cool bar is The Violet Hour: http://theviolethour.com/

    They have “house rules,” and the atmosphere is fun. There’s no sign and you wait outside a dingy door, but inside is really cool. You get your receipt on a cool postcard, and their drinks are Peche-style! :) You’re going to have to so much fun in Chicago!

  3. I love how you still have the napkin of places you want to visit, that is great!

    Also I can say from experience that mini vacations are great compared to having just one long vacation a year. We have been doing lots of weekend/4 day trips while in Europe and the best thing about this is you always have something to look forwards to and it’s not too far around the corner.

    It’s harder to do more than one big trip a year so it means you go a lot longer without a break and long holidays are exhausting. We did a 20 day trip across Eastern Europe and it was good but also very tiring.

    IMO a 4 day weekend away is perfect, just long enough so you forget about work and really start to relax and enjoy yourself, but just short enough so it feels like a mini getaway instead of a full blown vacation.

    • Faz, thanks! Our Chicago getaway is for four days, and I think you’re right about that being just the right amount of time. Too much time can definitely start to feel overwhelming. Hope your next long weekend away is soon!

  4. I love the listmaking part of traveling, too! Stephan and I want to take the baby on a trip as soon as he’s up for it. We might not get very far, but there will be food for sure. I can’t wait to hear about what you eat in Chicago. Bon voyage!

  5. I was in Chicago a couple years ago and loved Rick Bayless’ XOCO, casual eatery and also the Bongo Room for brunch. I would love to try either of Stephanie Izard’s restaurants (she was a Top Chef winner); her newer place, Drunken Goat. Have a great time in the windy city! It’s so beautiful. I highly recommend the boat tour if they’re having it (may be too cold right now) bc they talk through the history of the city through its skyline… pretty cool.

    • We’re definitely going to try and hit up one of Rick’s restaurants. Everyone says the architecture boat tour is wonderful, but unfortunately it’s probably too cold right now. That means we’ll have to visit again!

  6. This looks delicious! I always struggle to find ways to make tofu tastes good and it never seems to come out like it does in the restaurants! I will definitely give it a try! Thanks for sharing.

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