Veggies on the counter

Herbed Tofu Cakes with Curried Apple

Posted in main courses by veggies on the counter on February 17, 2011


Lately, I’ve been eating lots of roasted vegetables and bakes, mostly because they are comfort food at their best and have that sort of magical effect of keeping me warm. Also, these are usually dishes that are made in one single pan, meaning there’s minimal work involved in dish washing after dinner, which is also a great advantage. I tell you what I do: often, I make a lentil/vegetable pie and make sure there are enough leftovers for me to enjoy for a couple more meals. Not having that much time to cook lately, this is a method that allows me to have homemade food at hand almost everyday. Anyway, there are also times when I manage to prepare dishes that are done in less than twenty minutes, require minimal effort, are packed with proteins, and taste good. These Herbed Tofu Cakes are one of those no-recipes that I tend to prepare when I don’t feel that much like cooking.

I grab the herbs I have on the refrigerator – this time around, lemon thyme, rosemary and chives were what I had on hand, but you could use any others of your liking -, some tofu and a couple other ingredients, and the cakes are done in no time. The curried apples are a great topping for these protein-packed patties, but you could replace it for some chutney or a simple salsa made with fresh vegetables – they’d be equally good options. To finish things off, serve the dish along with some cooked grains (I can’t get enough of basmati rice cooked with a couple spices such as cinnamon, cloves and cardamom), and there you go.

Herbed Tofu Cakes with Curried Apple

(makes 5 cakes)

for the tofu cakes:

370 grams firm tofu, drained, pat dry and crumbled

1 ½ tablespoons shoyu

1 tablespoon vegan mayo

2 teaspoons dijon mustard

2 tablespoons flaxseed meal

1 ½ tablespoons lemon thyme, finely chopped

1 ½ tablespoons chives, finely chopped

2 teaspoons rosemary, finely chopped

zest of one lemon

2 tablespoons olive oil

for the curried apple:

1 large apple, peeled, cored and thinly sliced

½ teaspoon curry powder

¼ teaspoon sugar

a pinch of salt

a good squeeze of lemon juice

1 tablespoon olive oil

chopped coriander, for garnishing

1. In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients for the tofu cakes, except the olive oil. Mix well until thoroughly combined.

2. Divide the mixture into 4 to 5 equal portions. With your hands, shape each portion into patties.

3. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large frying pan, over medium-heat. Shallow-fry the patties for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, or until golden brown.

4. Once the tofu cakes are done, transfer them to a plate and keep them warm in the oven. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in the same frying pan you used for cooking the cakes and, once hot - but not smoking - add the apple slices, sugar, salt and curry powder.

5. Cook for 5 minutes or until the apple slices are tender and slightly caramelized. Turn off the heat and add a good squeeze of lemon juice to the pan.

6. Serve the tofu cakes with the curried apple slices on top, and garnish each serving with plenty chopped coriander. Serve with basmati rice or any other grain of your liking.

Zucchini and Potato Salad

Posted in salads, side dishes by veggies on the counter on July 17, 2010

More than two weeks ago, I ordered some new cookbooks. In the past couple of days, I’ve been getting anxious at around 11 a.m, the hour at which the over-sized shipments are delivered by hand on my neighborhood. It happens that mine haven’t arrived yet, so now I started considering the hypothesis that they might have got lost on their way from the UK to Portugal. It already happened a few times with other items I’ve purchased, and it’s kind of annoying. But, anyway, as I don’t have yet the new cookbooks, I’ve turned to the “old” ones I’ve got at home and have been exploring them intensely. And if there’s one cookbook that I’ve been really cooking a lot from, that is Bryant Terry’s Vegan Soul Kitchen . When I first got it, I was slightly disappointed by its layout. I thought the design of the book was not particularly appealing, which was a pitty, because it didn’t let Bryant’s recipes shine as they deserved. But despite its design, Vegan Soul Kitchen is by far one of my favorite cookbooks. It’s filled with unique, vibrant recipes, from cover to cover, and I love the fact that Bryant gives both film and music recommendation for each recipe on the book. It’s actually a pretty cool thing because of two particular reasons: firstly, I get to know a lot of music and film through a cookbook, which is something untypicial and original for a cookbook; and secondly, because it gives me some insights on Bryant’s creative process, which I admire because of its interdisciplinarity (by taking inspiration from art and music to create and develop his own recipes).

There was this Crispy Green Beans Salad on the book that I wanted to try. But here in Portugal we’re not in green beans season right now, so I decided to adapt the recipe to what I have bought on the market this morning. And thus a whole new recipe was born - the Zucchini and Potato Salad. In here, I grilled the zucchini until it got good grilling marks, and boiled the potatoes with their skins on until they were soft and tender; tossed everything in a large bowl with some roasted shallots and a garlicky mustard dressing, and served with sprigs of fresh lemon thyme and toasted walnuts. Instead of boiling the potatoes as I did, I think you could also cut them in small cubes and pan fry them until gold and crisp, and then proceed with the following steps.


(serves 4, as a side)

335 grams small potatoes (about 15 potatoes)

400 grams zucchini (2 small ones)

4 large shallots

olive oil


1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1/4 plus 1 tablespoon toasted walnuts

for the mustard vinaigrette:

1/4 cup lemon juice

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 teaspoons dijon mustard

3 teaspoons agave nectar

2 large garlic cloves

1/3 cup olive oil

1 tablespoon lemon thyme, plus a bit more for garnish

salt to taste

1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC.

2. I used very small potatoes in here, not that much bigger than the size of a grape, so if yours aren’t that small, cut them in halves and do not remove the skins. Bring about 2 liters of water to a boil, add 1 tablespoon of salt and the potatoes. Let them cook for 15 to 20 minutes. Drain them and wash them under cold running water. Drain again and set aside.

3. Trim the ends of the zucchini and cut them into 1 centimeter thick rounds. With a pastry brush, brush each round with olive oil and add about 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt (to all the rounds, not to each one individually). Heat a grill on maxium heat, add the zucchini rounds, and cook them for about 3 minutes on each side, or until they get good grilling marks. Remove from heat, let them cool, and set aside.

4. In a medium-size bowl, toss 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 1 tablespoon of olive oil and the balsamic vinegar. Rub this mixture in the shallots (with their skins on). Place the shallots in a baking dish lined with parchment paper, and roast them in the preheated oven for about 1 hour or until their skins have almost blacken. Let them cool, transfer to a cutting board, and take off their skins. Now, cut them into 2 centimeter thick pieces.

5. In a blender, combine all the ingredients for the vinaigrette except the olive oil. While the blender is still running, slowly pour in the olive oil. Have a taste and adjust the seasonings - a bit more salt? a bit more agave? - if needed.

6. In a large bowl, combine the potatoes, zucchini and shallots. Add about half of the vinaigrette and toss well.

7. Transfer all the ingredients to a big platter, add the toasted walnuts and some fresh lemon thyme sprigs. Right before serving, drizzle with the remaining vinaigrette.

recipe inspired by Vegan Soul Kitchen, by Bryant Terry, published by Da Capo Press


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