All-Purpose Eats

Patience is not one of my strengths, as any members of my family could attest, and this painfully slow, barely visible advancement of spring is driving me mad. Bolting up and out of bed upon spying little green buds through my bedroom window, I race downstairs to assess the weather… Only to discover yet another clammy, grey morning laying in wait. Feeling thoroughly ambushed by this disappointment, it’s difficult to know how best to displace that negative emotion. Typically taking to the kitchen and channeling frustrations and joys alike into something edible, the lack of seasonal produce has made even that a daunting task at times. So, let’s talk about season-less food, because it’s not all frozen or found in an aluminum can.

One could argue that potatoes are best harvested in the cooler months, but unlike so much other produce, these tubers keep so well and for so long, that they’ve effectively lost their seasonality through modernization. Unless you’re growing your own spuds (and more power to you, in that case) anyone and everyone should have easy access to dozens of varieties, all year round. Having them at the average cook’s disposal for 365 days of the year has led them to morph and mutate into dishes appropriate for any occasion, hot and cold, rich and light- You name it, there’s a potato for that.

And so I land at the recipe, with what some might find a boring, nothing-special baked potato. However, I have yet to meet a single soul who could claim to dislike such a dish, so that sounds pretty darned special to me. The real take-away from this piece though are the tofu croutons. If nothing else, ‘taters or not, you’ve got to give those crispy, savory, and somewhat salty little toppers a go. Plus, if you happen to be lucky enough to enjoy a more cooperative spring, you could just as well pile them on top of fresh, seasonal salads. As for me… I’ll just keep enjoying those potatoes a bit longer.

Yield: Makes 4 Servings

Loaded Baked Potatoes with Tofu Croutons

Loaded Baked Potatoes with Tofu Croutons

There's no wrong way to bake a potato, but the crispy, savory tofu toppers really turn the humble spuds into a memorable meal.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 25 minutes

Ingredients

Crispy Tofu Croutons:

  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 2 Tablespoons Soy Sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon Rice Vinegar
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Salt
  • Pinch Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • 1 14-Ounce Package Extra-Firm Tofu, Drained and Pressed for 30 Minutes

Baked Potatoes:

  • 4 Medium Baking Potatoes, Such as Russet
  • 1/4 Cup Olive Oil
  • 1 – 3 Tablespoons Unsweetened Soy Milk
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
  • Pinch Sweet Paprika
  • 2 Scallions or a Handful of Fresh Chives, Thinly Sliced
  • 1 Cup Roughly Chopped Steamed Broccoli
  • 1/2 Cup Roughly Chopped Roasted Peppers
  • Vegan Cheddar “Cheese” (Optional)
  • Avocado, Diced (Optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees, and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  2. In a resealable plastic container, combine the oil, soy sauce, vinegar, salt, and pepper, and stir well.
  3. Cut your tofu into very small cubes, about 1 cm each, keeping them as uniform as possible to ensure even baking. Place them in the container with the marinade, seal the container, and shake gently to coat the cubes in the mixture. Let rest until the oven comes up to temperature.
  4. Transfer the tofu cubes and excess marinade to your prepared baking sheet, and spread them out into one even layer. Bake for 60 – 75 minutes, stirring every 20 minutes or so, until evenly browned.
  5. Meanwhile, prepare your potatoes by washing them and cutting a slit into the top of each, to vent the steam. Place them in the oven alongside your tofu, and check for doneness at about 60 minutes. The
    skins will be slightly crispy, and they should be fork tender on the inside.
  6. Let the potatoes cool for at least 10 minutes, and then scoop out the insides, leaving a thin layer of potato around the skins so they don’t collapse. Place them in a medium bowl, along with the olive oil, 1
    tablespoon of soy milk, the salt, and paprika. Use a potato masher or fork to break up the potato and incorporate the other ingredient. Don’t overdo it, a little bit of chunkiness is perfect! If necessary, add more soymilk until it reaches your desired texture, and then add in the scallions, broccoli, and roasted peppers. Mix well to combine. Spoon the mashed potatoes back into the skins, and top with the tofu croutons.
  7. Finish off with a sprinkle of vegan “cheese” and/or diced avocado, if desired.

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Nutrition Information:

Yield:

4

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 574Total Fat: 36gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 28gCholesterol: 7mgSodium: 931mgCarbohydrates: 48gFiber: 11gSugar: 5gProtein: 20g

All nutritional information presented within this site are intended for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and any nutritional information on BitterSweetBlog.com should only be used as a general guideline. This information is provided as a courtesy and there is no guarantee that the information will be completely accurate. Even though I try to provide accurate nutritional information to the best of my ability, these figures should still be considered estimates.

Recipe originally written for Nasoya tofu

Sweetness for a Bitter Holiday

Still frustrated about not finding many vegan sweets that my family can eat during Passover, I opt to help out and make one of the traditional dishes of the season, which actually happens to be vegan by default. (Again!)

Found at every traditional seder is Charoses, a food that is meant to sweeten the bitter tears (The salt water and bitter herb) that represent the pain of slavery. In this application it is eaten with matzoh, sometimes in addition to moror (Horseradish,) but it has many other tasty options. This depends on how you like yours, so I’ll get to that later.

Charoses is so simple, there isn’t even a written recipe in our house, so I’ll try to approximate measurements if you’re interested in trying it out for yourself. Don’t stress out, there’s nothing precise about it, and it only requires three things:

Apples, wine, and nuts.

First things first, peel and core three apples, preferably a sweeter variety like Fujis are ideal. Throw these into a wooden bowl, along with a good handful of nuts – Walnuts are traditional, but I find them a bit bitter… And besides, we already had pecans on hand, so I used those. Maybe start with 1/2 cup, and then depending on how your mixture looks you can add in more? It’s really up to you.

Now, mash those bad boys up real good! …But don’t massacre it! You’re looking for a chunky mixture, not a puree. That’s why I tend to use the hand-chopper, but if you’re just not into that or want to save time, you could probably get the same results from a food processor, as long as you kept an eye one it.

With the addition of about 1/2 cup of Manischewitz, (Or, I suppose you could substitute a sweetened grape juice if you don’t want to use alcohol) this is what mine looks like. By no means is this the only way it should come out. I’ve seen other people make theirs so smooth it’s more like applesauce! As something that smooth, it could make a tasty dip for unsalted crackers, or a spread for toast… Chunkier makes a great sandwich filling… and if you throw it under the broiler with some brown sugar, cinnamon, and crumbled matzoh, it makes for a warm and comforting dessert.

If you do try it, just play around with it! There are so many areas open to variation, and then the sky is the limit with what you can do with the end product.