Sunday, July 29, 2007

Settled on Spicy Spinach (with a Couscous Crust)

This is a recipe that led me astray: I started in Japan and ended up on the West Coast. Even though I normally despise Teriyaki-anything, being one of those bastardized and way over-used flavors, I wanted Teriyaki Salmon the other night. Then I decided on spinach as a side dish, then I thought I'd do something quiche-y, then I wanted something healthy... and if you're like me at all that means nixing the cheese and heavy cream and using Tofu instead. Actually, if you're truly like me, you'd intend to add an egg to the tofu/spinach creation and instead accidentally crack it on the side of the cutting board only to spend 10 minutes cleaning up the goopy mess... but I digress. In the absence of egg, my Spinach Tofu creation headed vegan and curried.

Why curry? Well, the honest to god truth is that I had a "What Would Heidi Do" moment, and flavors likely to be found in a California Kitchen popped into mind. Then of course, my Teriyaki Salmon sounded terrible and I went with a Ginger glaze instead.

Were the Curried Spinach with Tofu and Ginger Glazed Salmon the the best palette combination ever? Not really, which is why I am not including both recipes here. But individually the dishes were great and I figured I'd post the spinach recipe rather than the salmon. My favorite feature of this recipe, and something I will definitely be working on for an ultimate baked dish, is a What I Think Is Quite Clever invention of my own: using couscous for a "crust" of sorts. It's a good way to get in some carbohydrates without loading up on buttery dough, and the couscous gets flavored by the spinach/tofu/shallot drippings as it bakes at high heat. This whole recipe comes together in a snap, and as with most of what I post here, I'll add the comment that this is a perfect base for playing around with flavors. There are few spices that would go wrong here. Other ideas? If I wasn't so lazy, I would have pureed the tofu rather than crumble it (baked pureed tofu has a texture that is remarkably similar to quiche), and if there were mushrooms to be found in my fridge, I would have added some bellas to the shallot step.

Curried Spinach with Tofu
Serves: 2, as part of a main course, or 4, as a side dish

2 shallors
2 cloves garlic
1 package firm tofu
1 large bag fresh spinach
1-2 tbsp curry powder*
1 tsp cumin
salt and pepper to taste

2/3 cup couscous
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup water or broth

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Add shallot and olive oil to large pan and cook over medium-low heat until shallot is translucent (about 3-4 minutes). Add garlic, curry and cumin and reduce heat to low, cooking for an additional 2 minutes.
  3. When the garlic/shallot mixture is cooked through, add spinach to the pan. Crumble tofu on top. Turn pan to medium-high heat and cook, stirring often, until the spinach is completely wilted. Salt and pepper to taste. Continue stirring and cooking until some of the tofu liquid has evaporated (about 5-10 minutes total). Make sure to crumble up the tofu as it cooks.
  4. Meanwhile, add olive oil to a shallow baking pan. Toss couscous with salt and pour into pan. Top couscous with the tofu/spinach mixture, pressing carefully to ensure even distribution of casserole ingredients. Pour water or broth into pan corners.
  5. Bake, covered with silver foil, for 20 minutes. Remove foil and broil for an additional 3-4 minutes.
*Note, I've got a thing for spice lately. I used an ton of curry powder in this recipe - Greg started hiccuping when he tasted it. Really, truly, honestly, do this one to taste. All curry mixtures are individual and composed of many different spices with varying levels of heat, so where you buy your curry and also what your personal spice limit is will affect how much curry you should add to this recipe... I'd start with 2-3 tsp and work your way up. It's best to cook spices like curry in oil first since their flavors are fat soluble, but if you're not sure about the spice level it's easy to add in some curry powder at the tofu step too.

1 comment:

Susan said... the idea of the couscous crust. I've got to try that.