I had planned on going to New York City for Thanksgiving, but things changed at the last minute so I found myself at home with my dog Izzy (aka The Goo.) Instead of making myself a Thanksgiving dinner for one, I decided to get out of my apartment (and head) to volunteer. What a wonderful experience! I had the privilege of serving meals to people in the community, taking the time to sit and talk with them. I’d like to thank Gilbert, the 85 year old firecracker who kept ME company and helped to remind me that part of being thankful is giving back that which I’ve been given.
So, with that said, I cooked up a little meal the following day to enjoy with my friend Raimy. The flavors in this tofu marinade are definitely reminiscent of fall. The orange flavor paired nicely with the fennel puree, which is a great alternative to mashed potatoes if you’re wanting to switch it up.
* Note: For best results, marinate the tofu overnight. Yields 12 pieces of tofu.
2 lb. Extra Firm Tofu
1 tbsp. Orange Zest
2/3 cup Orange Juice, freshly squeezed
6 tbsp. Lemon Juice, freshly squeezed
1/2 tsp. Cumin
1/4 tsp. Cinnamon
1/8 tsp. Cloves
1/4 tsp. Cayenne Pepper
1/4 cup Low Sodium Tamari
2 tbsp. Toasted Sesame Oil
2 tsp. Agave Nectar
1/2 tsp. Freshly Ground Black Pepper
1 cup Canola Oil, for pan frying
1/2 cup or so Masa Corn Flower, for dredging (I only used this because I wanted to use up some ingredients in the pantry. You can use flour as well…or finely ground nuts like pistachios)
Sea Salt, to season
Cut the tofu into 12 even strips. Place the pieces between 2 clean kitchen towels and gently press to remove water. Replace with 2 more dry towels and press again. place a baking sheet on top of the towel covering the tofu and allow it to sit while you make the marinade (longer if possible) to remove excess water.
Combine the orange zest, orange and lemon juice, cumin, cinnamon, cloves, cayenne, tamari, sesame oil, agave and pepper into a bowl and whisk to combine. Arrange the tofu into a large baking dish (or ziplock bag if you don’t have one) and pour the marinade over it. Cover and place into the fridge overnight, turning the tofu pieces over after a few hours.
In a shallow bowl or dish, combine the masa and sea salt. Stir with a fork. Heat the canola oil in a large skillet over medium-medium high heat.
Dredge the tofu pieces in the flour mixture, coating them evenly and shaking off any excess flour. Place the pieces into the pan once the oil is hot. Don’t overcrowd the pan with tofu. Put in just enough pieces so that they have plenty of room around them. I needed to cook mine in 2 batches. Cook for about 5 minutes (or until the bottom of each piece is golden brown, then flip over. Cook for another few minutes until that side is golden brown as well, then transfer the pieces to a plate covered with a paper towel. You’ll want to do this so that some of the extra oil is removed.
Roasted Fennel Ingredients:
4 fennel bulbs, coarsely chopped
12 cloves of garlic, peeled and left whole
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Sea salt to taste
2 tbsp canola oil
1/3 cup plain almond milk (plus more if you want a thinner puree)
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Place a large piece of foil onto 2 rimmed baking sheets. Place half of the fennel and garlic onto each sheet and drizzle both with some canola oil. Wrap each batch with the foil, forming a packet. Bake for about 40 minutes, then remove from the oven and open the packets to allow the veggies to cool slightly.
Place the fennel and garlic into a food processor and process until smooth. With the processor running pour in some of the almond milk. Continue adding until desired thickness is achieved. Season with salt and pepper. I also threw together a quick salad of greens, shaved raw fennel, pomegranate seeds and olives with a sherry vinaigrette.