Barbecue Tofu with Baked Beans and Cheesy Mash

TofuBarbequeWith daylight savings time and the longer evenings, I just can’t wait for those summer cookouts. It’s fun to pull out the grill on a regular old weeknight and turn out some great barbecue!

Whether you like it smoky or spicy, savory or sweet, there’s no reason to give up your favorite barbeque flavors as a vegetarian or vegan. Tofu has a wonderfully absorbent quality when it comes to flavors. It’s especially so when it is frozen, thawed and pressed  beforehand.

Here’s a basic barbecue flavored marinade, that can be used by itself or along with your favorite barbecue sauce at grill time.

Smoky BBQ Tofu Marinade

¼ cup soy sauce or tamari
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar (or mirin)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1-1/2 teaspoons liquid smoke
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons paprika or chili powder

Blend all ingredients and pour over tofu. Makes about 1/2 cup, enough for 1 pound.

There are so many sides to choose from, but on a weeknight, I choose the easiest to prepare. Here is a quick and easy baked bean recipe that can be baking in the oven while you prepare the rest of the meal. It is sweet and tangy with a rich tomato flavor.

Homemade Baked Beans

courtesy of Jenna Weber (www.eatliverun.com)

1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 of a large yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp pure maple syrup
1 tbsp ketchup
1 tsp ground mustard
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 bay leaf
1 tsp hot sauce
8 oz tomato sauce
1 15 oz can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

Preheat oven to 350
In a cast iron skillet or non-stick skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the onions and sauté for about five minutes or until soft and translucent.
Add the garlic and sauté 30 seconds more.
Add the maple syrup, tomato sauce, salt, ground mustard, hot sauce and ketchup and simmer for five minutes.
Add the beans and bay leaf, stir, then cover the skillet with aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes, stirring once during the baking process.
Allow to cool and serve warm.

Serves 4

Cheesy mashed potatoes is the simplest side dish of all, provided you have some leftover cheesy sauce hanging around in the fridge, which I think everyone should! https://veganflavorista.wordpress.com/2012/11/23/sexy-cheezy-sauce/

Cheesy Mash

courtesy of Vegan Flavorista

Wash and dry four big potatoes. Place them in a microwave-safe bowl. Cover and microwave 10 minutes. Mash with unsweetened non-dairy milk until desired consistency is reached. Stir in a big dollop of Dijon mustard, then season to taste with freshly ground black pepper and sea salt. Take about 4 scallions, washed and dried, and snip them with kitchen shears right into the potatoes. Stir to blend.

Gently reheat cheesy sauce and drizzle over warm mashed potatoes. Heavenly!

plate

Smoky Pulled Jackfruit

IMG_3724.jpg

When I first heard that jackfruit can imitate the texture of shredded meat classically prepared as barbecue, I could hardly believe it. I was challenged by the prospect. I thought, how can a soft, canned fruit  make this transition?

img_3690

I researched recipes and the overall consensus seemed to be that the fruit must be cooked down with a sauce or flavorings in order to make it break apart and shred. I tried this technique and was sorely disappointed. The jackfruit did not have the texture I was looking for. Instead, it was like eating a mouthful of soft, wet dishrags.

img_3693

I put on my thinking cap and came to the conclusion that in order to get that meaty, pulled texture, the fruit must be relieved of much of its moisture and the sauce applied in finishing. Here’s my technique. It’s quick, easy and foolproof.

Pulled Jackfruit

2 cans young green jackfruit in *brine

Barbecue sauce, to taste (bottled or homemade, your choice)

1 tsp. liquid smoke (optional)

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Fabricate! Drain the jackfruit and cut out the hard, triangular core pieces (similar to pineapple) then tear the fruit into shreds with your fingers.IMG_3697.jpg
  3. Marinate! With a paper towel, press out as much moisture as possible and then apply the liquid smoke, if using and 2 teaspoons of barbecue sauce, for  just a touch of flavor. Toss the fruit to coat.IMG_3701.jpg
  4. Bake on dry parchment-lined sheet tray (no oil) for 20-25 minutes, stirring at around the 10 minute mark, until the edges are browned and the fruit has a dried appearance.IMG_3706.jpg
  5. Finish! Then and only then, apply the sauce of your choice and serve immediately.img_3711

Yield: 2 cups

Notes: In addition to traditional barbecue presentation, pulled jack fruit goes well in Mexican dishes like tacos, quesadillas and nachos.

*Do not use the jackfruit in syrup, only in brine. There is a big difference.