Friday, April 13, 2007 good

Soy foods have been touted as a wonder food full of phyto-hormones. I for one fell in love with this bean due to its versatility and willingness to take on whatever flavor I chose to give it. It doesn’t hurt they say it is good for us, or, that it is one of a few complete proteins coming from the vegetable kingdom.

There are a few incarnations of soy that I will readily incorporate into my daily life: tofu, tempeh, and edamame.

Tofu: comes in two main types to most of us firm and soft (or silken). Firm tofu has less water in it and has it’s name implies to it is denser than the former. I drain the tofu from the water bath it came in, and then I let it sit in a colander for 30 minutes to dip out some the excess liquid. Another great technique is to slice the tofu into slabs and place it on a towel lined plate. Place another towel on top and then another plate. Put the tofu in the refrigerator for 5 to 6 hours. This really pushed out a lot of the moisture creating an even firmer, chewier piece of tofu. If I am going o stir-fry the tofu this is the process I use – then the tofu does not break up as much when I cook it. Silken tofu has far greater water content and the texture of custard. I love to use this version when making dressings, desserts and soups. Neither version freezes and defrosts successfully. A block of tofu will have about a month shelf life if left unopened – then about 3 to 4 days after you open the packet under refrigeration.

Tempeh: the pre-cursor to tofu this soy product is considered a whole food. Meaning that the entire bean makes up the tempeh. Used throughout Malay and Indonesian cooking tempeh can be a bit more difficult. It requires not only flavor but also liquid – otherwise, it can be dry. Though it makes a fabulous replacement for ground meats and freezes and defrosts quite well.

Edamame: those green, fuzzy pods we all eat prior to spring onto a plate of sushi is yet another soy variety. Not only do I eat them boiled and tossed with salt as a quick snack I will use them anytime I require a bean.

Tomato Bolognese Sauce - yields approx. 4 cups

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion – diced
1 small carrot – peeled and diced
1/2 pound tempeh – grated
2 garlic cloves - peeled and crushed to a paste
1/2 cup red wine
1 teaspoon tomato paste
32 ounces canned peel tomatoes
1 teaspoon honey
1/4 cup Italian parsley - leaves only, chopped
1 yellow pepper - roasted, skinned, seeded and cut into 1/2” diced
10 basil leaves - roughly torn
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Heat a 2-quart saucepan over a medium high heat, and add the oil and onion. Cook the onion until it is translucent, and then mix in the grated tempeh. Stir the mixture to combine well. Mix in the carrot and garlic. Cook for a few minutes stirring occasionally, and then pour in the red wine. Season the sauce with some salt and pepper. Reduce the wine to a glaze, and then mix in the tomato paste, canned tomatoes and honey. Bring the mixture to the boil, and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover the pan and cook for about 30 minutes. Then add the parsley, zucchini, yellow pepper and simmer for 15 minutes longer. Then add the basil, and correct seasoning with salt and pepper.

Serve over pasta dusted with some grated cheese.

Tofu Dressing - yields approx. 2 cups

1/8 cup olive oil
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 pound silken style tofu - drained of excess water
3 scallions - root end discarded and washed
1 garlic clove - chopped
1/4 cup Italian parsley leaves
1/8 cup oregano leaves
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

In a blender or food processor place all the ingredients and blend until smooth. Correct seasoning.

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