Monday, October 17, 2011

Pumpkin-Crusted Tofu with Roasted Pumpkin, Basmati Rice and Cranberry Relish

Last week I said that the fried portion of my Vegan Mofo adventure was over. I lied. But only because I found a recipe that I bookmarked nearly three years ago - with a "Try this in October" note. Two Octobers came and went without me trying it. Forgive me this last fried indulgence!

Until I made this meal, I had never bought a sugar pumpkin for food purposes. Every fall, since I first moved out on my own when I was 19 years old, I haven't been able to resist the urge to buy one of the cute round pumpkins that hang around the squash aisle of the market every October. And every year they have been given Table Decoration Status until they've rotted out. It never fails. Every November we end up wandering around the house asking each other, "Do you smell that?" and "Why does it always smell like garbage in this house?" and then a few days later we notice the soggy culprit in the middle of our kitchen table.

Honestly, I don't know where the intimidation came from because I work with squash all the time. Pumpkin is no different from the butternut and acorn and delicata squashes I have become so fond of roasting this time of year.

This year I still couldn't resist the urge to buy a sugar pumpkin. But unlike previous years, I mustered up the courage to actually cook it!

The recipe that I bookmarked years ago is in Vegan with a Vengeance. I can't find a copy of it online, but since it's the archetypal vegan cookbook I'm confident that most of you have it. If you don't, you probably should!

The one noticeable difference between something like a butternut squash and a pumpkin is the exceptionally tough exterior. My chef's knife didn't really do much. I had to grab a knife that was serrated on both sides and then use it to hack the crap out of the pumpkin, much like carving a jack-o-lantern!

The prize for throwing out your shoulder while carving out a pumpkin is the opportunity to roast the seeds! Is there anything more glorious than the smell of roasting pumpkin seeds?

When they get golden brown you pull them out of the oven and let them cool down for a bit. Then into the food processor they go.

Meanwhile, you slice the pumpkin, brush on some oil and toss it into the oven.

I had it in the oven for about an hour before I was dying of starvation and took it out, even though it wasn't as tender as it should have been. The recipe suggests roasting it at 350F but I normally roast my squash at at least 375F, which is what I will do next time.

I think the cranberry relish is considered an option for this recipe but it is not. It is a must. Besides, you have nothing but time while waiting for that pumpkin to roast. It's quite tart, and when I tasted it on its own I wasn't sure if I was feeling it all that much. But combined with the pumpkin and the fried tofu I'm about to show you - amazing!

After you've drained the tofu of as much liquid as possible, you cut it into 2" slabs and prepare your breading station - flour, water and the ground pumpkin seeds mixed with corn starch and oregano, dipping each piece of tofu in each bowl until totally covered in the pumpkin seeds.

They look like this when they are finished frying but the real story is how they smell. Technology has come a long way but sadly it is still something I can't share that via the blog. You'll just have to make them yourself!

This is a pretty labour-intensive and time consuming recipe. It is definitely not a weeknight dinner. But the best meals usually take the most time, don't they? I first saw this recipe three years ago and was too intimidated to try it, especially considering my history of injury-via-frying (for the record, Paul did the frying this time), and I'm disappointed that I didn't take the time out to make it sooner. In fact, I think it's going to become an October tradition in our house.

7 comments: said...

I LOVE this recipe! It's definitely one of my favorites, and it makes fall weather go down a little easier. Every year I plan on freezing cranberries, so that I can make this for a few more months. (Cranberries are around for a surprisingly small amount of the year.) The combination of salty, fried, crunchy, sweet, and sour makes this dish an absolute winner. Your pics look divine!

Mary said... - I can't believe it took me so long to finally try it! You're so right about cranberries. Trying to find fresh ones the week after Thanksgiving proved to be a nightmare. I managed to find a bag of frozen ones, and it was the very last one!

Brittany Boersma said...

This looks awesome. I roasted a pepper squash last night and it blew my mind haha.

Also I just wanted to let you know that I nominated you for an award that has been going about. I really like following your blog, I live in Toronto now but I used to live in Woodstock which isn't too far from Kitchener and I have some family downtown Kitchener too. So I guess I like being about to relate to your blog:) Anyway I thought you deserved a bit of recognition:)

You can check it out on my blog post here if you’d like

Take care,


Mand said...

I love the autumn plates! I love that you have different kinds of plates, I always find it sooo boring when people have 15 white plates!

Bliss Doubt said...

Mary, it looks like you ground up the pumpkin seeds with shells and all. Did you really? And it tasted okay? I've never cooked pumpkin seeds in the oven, but I've bought the "pepitas" in snack bags and they're always shelled. Just wondering.

Yeah, about cutting them open. Every autumn I even resist the butternuts at first, wondering if I want to risk cutting off my own arm getting the dang squash open. But it ends up worth it.

Also, I don't think you ever have to apologize for a fried recipe.

Mary said...

Brittany - That is so kind of you! I will check it out soon; I am having one of those weeks where I barely have time to cook/blog. Thanks so much!

Mand - I am beyond addicted to buying dishes for the blog. I always troll discount stores and look for cute designs...they are always so cheap when you aren't buying them as a part of a set.

Bliss - Yup, shell and all! You've never roasted pumpkin seeds from carving pumpkins as a snack before? This is the exact same idea. Pepitas are great, I buy them too, but I find them to be totally different from roasting the whole seed. Roasted pumpkin seeds smell and taste like popcorn! On Halloween we toss them with a little oil and salt/pepper and have them as a snack while watching scary movies. In this recipe they give such a unique taste and crunch to the tofu.

Jenn said...


I can't wait to try this! When I first saw the photos, I thought maybe you had done up some puffball mushrooms! We had them this year for the first time, breaded like you did (without the pumpkin seeds) and they were INCREDIBLE. As for the pumpkin seeds, the first time I roasted my own, I didn't realize they had a shell when I ate them. Hmmmm... Now I know better and grinding them up for breading is a great idea! Fiber is our friend! ha ha ha! Convenience aside, why anyone would use canned pumpkin in the Fall is beyond me!! You don't even need to use a pie pumpkin if you are making soup with it! Thanks for another great post!

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