Welcome to Romeo's Food Lady! This blog contains recipes for delicious vegetarian food. Most of these are not recipes authored by me. Rather, this is just a compilation of great veggie food I've found from all over the place, usually tweaked just a little. It's intended to be a reference FOR ME so I don't lose great food I've found nor the changes I've made to suit my tastes, but I'm happy for you to use it, too. After more than 25 years of being a vegetarian, I know what tastes good.
Romeo's Food Lady is named after my friend and cat, Romeo. Romeo is not a vegetarian, but his Food Lady is!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Tofu Gumbo

So Monday night I FINALLY made that recipe for a vegan tart I've been going on about since Christmas, and you know what? It was awful. Who posts a recipe for an awful, awful dish? I'm really open-minded about eating mediocre food, because I honestly think it's a sin to waste food when people are starving. But this thing was inedible, so I just can't recommend it. I couldn't even get half of my slice of tart down. Luckily, Scott found it palatable enough to keep from wasting it, but I did not!

The good news is that I'm going to share a delicious tofu gumbo recipe with you. A couple of weeks ago, I reached into the freezer case at the market to grab a bag of field peas, and when I got home, the field peas had morphed into a bag of frozen okra. I don't really cook with okra, but I remembered that a few years ago I'd saved a Kwanzaa menu (with recipes) that was published in
Vegetarian Times that included tofu gumbo. It's true that sometimes I'll keep a recipe for years before it fits into my scheme. I made THAT recipe tonight, and it was delicious. As is often the case, I didn't make it exactly the way the recipe read, so I'm going to share it with you the way I made it. Here goes!

3 T. plus 1/4 c. canola oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 ribs celery, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced (ribs and seeds removed, of course)
1 -2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can diced tomatoes, with packing juice
1 T. fresh thyme
1 T. fresh oregano
2 T. fresh basil
2 bay leaves
2 c. vegan vegetable stock
1 t. salt
freshly ground pepper, cayenne pepper, dry mustard, and tumeric, to taste
4 oz. frozen okra
1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 lb. extra-firm tofu, water squeezed out, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (I usually freeze my tofu when I buy it at the store and let it thaw the day I'm going to use it. This changes the texture favorably.)
NOTE: I served this over white rice, so you should also get some white rice ready to cook.

You’ll need 1 large skillet and one medium-to-large nonstick skillet.

Heat 1 T. canola oil in the large skillet over medium heat. Sauté the onion, celery, pepper, and garlic until the onions are translucent and the vegetables are soft. This takes about 10 minutes. Add the can of tomatoes, the thyme, the oregano, the basil, the bay leaves, the stock, the salt, a generous grinding of black pepper, and cayenne pepper, to taste. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 15-20 minutes.

In the meantime, heat 2 T. canola oil in the nonstick skillet. Sauté the okra until lightly browned. (I sautéed it for a couple of minutes, then I moved all the okra to the middle of the pan and let it cook until the bottom was lightly brown.) Remove the okra from the nonstick skillet.

NOTE: This is where I started cooking rice according to package instructions.

In the same nonstick skillet, add the tofu. Sprinkle the tofu with a generous grinding of black pepper, cayenne to taste, a couple of shakes of dry mustard, and a couple of shakes of tumeric. Sauté until it, too, is lightly browned. (I did the same thing I did to the okra, but I browned the tofu cubes on 2 sides.) Remove the tofu from the nonstick skillet.

In the same nonstick skillet, heat the remaining ¼ c. canola oil. Whisk in the ½ c. all-purpose flour, and continue heating until the mixture smells nutty (3 or 4 minutes). Stir this mixture (called the roux, unless you are Cajun or Creole, and then I apologize for any inauthenticity) 1 T. at a time into the tomato mixture until it creates a gravy-like texture. Remove the bay leaves and discard.  Stir in the okra and tofu.

I served the dish over white rice with some awesome white sesame-seeded bread and vegan margarine. Scott drank his homebrewed beer, and I had a glass of red wine, then green tea. I wish I weren't full, because I'd love to eat some more! The recipe served about 4 as a main dish.

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