Look at this tofu!!

Local Tofu and a New Wheat Meat

Yeah, I know – that title will turn away all but the most devout herbivores!

How about: Spaghetti with Italian Sausage and Garlic Toast. Better?

Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Tomato Basil Sauce, Field Roast Italian Sausage (vegan), and Twin Oaks Tofu

Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Tomato Basil Sauce, Field Roast Italian Sausage (vegan), and Twin Oaks Tofu

Let’s start Vegan MoFo Week 2, shall we?

Spaghetti is my comfort food. It reminds me of my dad, which is comforting. After last week’s sad news of the passing of Steve Jobs, I needed some comforting. Since my dad is now hanging out with Steve (asking how he ever managed to corrupt his daughter into drinking the Kool Aid), well, spaghetti it is.

I tried out two new products in this meal – both discovered via a couple of my favorite food bloggers. First up, Twin Oaks Tofu (which I discovered via Kath Eats). First of all, Twin Oaks is a cooperative, worker-owned farm. Second, they make local tofu – the farm is about 60 miles from where I live in Virginia. Third, it’s organic, non-GMO tofu, and it gets rave reviews from everybody I know that has tried it.

That makes plenty of reasons for me to take a stab at it! I grabbed a package of their Italian Herb tofu from the Friendly City Food Co-Op:

Twin Oaks Italian Herb Tofu

Twin Oaks Italian Herb Tofu

Now, word on the street was that this tofu didn’t have to be pressed. Now, it took me a LONG time to finally “figure out” tofu – and only now that I have a handy dandy Tofu XPress tofu press do I truly appreciate it as a meal option. So, a tofu that wouldn’t require a day sitting in a medieval torture device? Interesting.

I figured I would put it to the test of all tests, and try baking it, straight up – no pressing whatsoever. Sliced up, straight out of the package. (I did add a bit of garlic powder to get the garlic toast thing going on).

The other new product in this meal was Field Roast Italian Sausage – a “grain meat” that I discovered via Emily over at Daily Garnish. She had discovered Field Roast veggie dogs at her local market in Seattle, and they sounded better than most of the “fake” meats I’ve tried. I’m not much of a fan of fake meats – but I was never much of a meat fan even when I was eating meat, so it’s not surprising.

Grain or “wheat meats” are usually based on some form of a recipe for seitan, or wheat gluten. Seasoned properly, these “meats” – when prepared properly – can be nearly indistinguishable from “the real thing.” Texture is usually the hardest part to replicate, even if the flavors are spot-on.

I sliced up 2 links of the Italian sausage and sauteed it for just a few minutes until browned, then added a jar of organic tomato basil sauce and simmered for a bit.

I served the sauce and sausage over whole wheat noodles topped with a little ‘nooch Parmesan, and a few garlic tofu slabs on the side.

All I have to say is… look at this tofu!!

Look at this tofu!!

Look at this tofu!!

Seriously, people. Best tofu I’ve ever had. It baked up wonderfully chewy with a nice little crunch on the outside. So flavorful. So easy!

And with regard to the sausages, I have to agree with Emily. Field Roast is top notch in the vegan meats department. I even enjoyed a sausage plain on a giant roll the other day, and it had fantastic flavor and texture. I wish I could find more of their products locally here.

From my plate to yours, here’s to delicious food that makes you feel good!

Polenta Casserole with Seitan

It was an adventurous day today! First, I braved the mud at Messenger Woods to get a nice walk in. Then, I took a few bold new steps at Whole Foods, buying bulk dried beans for the first time, along with some exotic-to-me ingredients like sea vegetables for my upcoming kitchen adventures. I’m on spring break this week, so I plan to do a lot of cooking! I’m not sure where I’ll store all of the leftovers, but I’ll figure it out.

Tonight, I made my first vegan recipe out of Alicia Silverstone’s book, The Kind Diet: A Simple Guide to Feeling Great, Losing Weight, and Saving the Planet: Polenta Casserole with Seitan. It contained a few of those adventurous ingredients, so for those new to them, I’ll explain:

  • Seitan – “wheat meat” – a protein-rich food made from wheat gluten that resembles the texture and taste of meat
  • Tamari – a soy sauce made from soybeans, water, and sea salt, usually wheat-free
  • Umeboshi vinegar (or ume vinegar) – technically not a vinegar, but a fruity, salty, sour product made from Japanese umeboshi plums
  • Tahini – nut butter made from sesame seeds

OK, that covers all of the ingredients that I hadn’t heard of prior to reading this book! I was able to find them all at Whole Foods Market.

Step 1: seitan, asparagus, and corn.Step 1: Seitan, corn, and asparagus

Next, I employed my new kitchen laptop to look up how to chop parsley. I’ve never used fresh herbs before, and wow – fresh parsley smells amazing! I also felt like a freakin’ chef chop-chop-chopping by the time I was done with the parsley. Such a pro I am. (LOL!)


Parsley, Pre-chop


Chopped fresh parsley

I over-estimated how many parsley stems I’d need to end up with 1/4 cup of fresh chopped leaves, so hopefully I can think of something to do with my leftover chopped parsley soon. For those new to chopping parsley, you pretty much hold the knife as usual in one hand, then place your other hand on top to guide the knife as sort of a rocker back and forth over the parsley leaves.

Next up – the cornmeal mixture got spread on top of the seitan mixture, with some tamari sprinkled on top:

Polenta casserole with seitan, ready to bakeAfter baking, I did not read the instructions closely enough. They said to let the casserole sit for 15 minutes before cutting it into squares. I did not wait, and my casserole was mushy (though I also didn’t use as much cauliflower as the recipe called for, so that might have contributed to my mush-factor).


Polenta casserole with seitan - doneI got 9 servings out of this recipe, though I used a 9×13″ pan instead of the recommended 8×8″ pan (couldn’t find my 8×8!) The original recipe notes 6 servings.

And here’s what dinner looked like! I served the casserole with a side of spring greens with organic caesar dressing:

Polenta casserole with seitan and a side of spring greensThe meal turned out delicious. I like seitan – if I didn’t know better, I’d think it was meat (minus the cholesterol and saturated fat and other bad-ness that comes along with animal based meat). I have happily survived my first vegan meal!

[recipe-show recipe=polenta-seitan]