Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

A recipe hack for grain and a tofu trick

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Rolled oats in a bag that's next to a bowl containing more rolled oats.
Photo by Maria Cerda

I like to include both beans/lentils and grain with each meal — as the Daily Dozen suggests — which is why the tempeh I make is 50-50 beans/lentils and (intact whole) grain. (I cook them separately before combining them for the tempeh.) But if no tempeh is on hand and I am, as usual, improvising a recipe, what do I do?

Beans are no problem. Even if I have no cooked beans in the fridge and don’t feel like cooking lentils for dinner, I can just open a can of beans or use tofu. (I mention lentils as an option because lentils require no soaking and take only about 13 minutes to cook, once the water has come to a boil.)

Grain does have a quick-cook option like lentils: unpolished millets cook quickly, as do good pseudo-grains like quinoa and amaranth. But what if I don’t feel like cooking before I cook, as it were? For beans, I open a can (or use tofu). For grain?

The answer suddenly occurred to me: old-fashioned rolled oats. True, they are not an intact whole grain, but they are close: they’ve just been steamed, squished, and lightly toasted to make them shelf-stable. And — important for improvised recipes — they cook quickly, so I can just add them directly from the package to the stir-fry or stew I’m making and they cook along with it. (Important: old-fashioned rolled oats, not instant.)

For chili or curry, I usually use my tempeh, which takes care of both beans and grain, but if I don’t have tempeh, I will often use tofu. Tofu takes care of the beans, and now I can add rolled oats to take care of the grain.. 

The recipe where I discovered this trick is in my post on making tempeh from Du Puy lentils and Kamut wheat. I don’t know why I never thought of this before; it seems a natural and easy way to incorporate grain into a meal — much easier than rice, which I don’t eat anyway (and certainly not white rice: which lacks bran, the source of many important nutrients).

What about rice?

Most people eat a stir-fry with rice or incorporate rice into the stir-fry. However, white rice is not a whole grain: the bran and germ have been removed, which also removes nutrients (minerals and vitamins, along with dietary fiber). Brown rice would be better, but I prefer more nutritious grains, such as wheat, oats, barley, rye, kamut, and the like. 

I definitely want whole grain, with as little processing as possible. I generally use intact whole grain, but the oat groats used in making old-fashioned rolled oats are minimally processed, and given the benefit of quick cooking (so I can use it in, for example, stir-fries), I am willing to forego the intact part. Still, if I do have intact whole grain already cooked and in the fridge,  that would definitely be better.

Tofu trick

Here’s a neat tofu trick I learned from a post on Mastodon: Cut a block of extra-firm tofu in two, and put each half into a sealed baggie and then into the freezer. When you want to use one, let it thaw in the refrigerator overnight. It then is like a waterlogged sponge.

Hold it over the sink and gently squeeze it, and water will gush from it into the sink. Keep turning it and gently squeezing until no more water appears. Then you can slice it (on a mandoline, for example) or dice it for cooking. The once-frozen tofu takes up marinades extremely well — like a sponge. Here’s a downloadable PDF with various marinade ideas:

Written by Leisureguy

28 November 2022 at 1:33 pm

Posted in Daily life

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