Dinner date.

Hectic schedules and saving money for vacation (WOOHOO!) meant that “date night” last week (I feel like a soccer mom being interviewed for Better Homes and Gardens when I say that) was a meal in the back yard with candles, wine and later a walk to Vegan Treats for cherry-chocolate soft serve.

I’ve pulled out some cookbooks I haven’t flipped through in a while to give me new flavor ideas, and came across this simple and absolutely wonderful recipe for Caribbean Jerk Tofu and roasted vegetables from Moosewood Restaurant Low Fat Favorites. Allow me to share! This is a copy of the recipe, edited a little by me.

Caribbean Jerk Tofu

2 tofu cakes, pressed and cut into triangles, cubes, or “steaks”

MARINADE/SAUCE:

  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 3 fresh chilis or jalapeno, sliced and seeds removed
  • 3 TBPS tamari sauce
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 TBSP brown sugar
  • 2 tsp fresh ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • a little black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Press the tofu to drain water. Put all marinade ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth.

Put tofu in a dish and pour marinade over the top. Store in fridge for at least 30 minutes. Put marinated tofu on a baking sheet, spooning extra marinade on top. Bake for an hour, turning over once or twice.

Caribbean Roasted Veggies

(This is very close to the marinade recipe above, so you can always try making extra and just using that if you want to save a little time! But I think this recipe holds up better to coat the vegetables.)

DRESSING

  • 3 TBSP tamari sauce (or soy sauce)
  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • 2 TBSP red wine vinegar
  • 1 TBSP brown sugar
  • 1 small onion, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp cloves
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tsp fresh ginger
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 fresh chili or jalapeno, seeds removed

Blend all ingredients in a food processor.

The vegetables I used were: one zucchini, 2 red potatoes, one large sweet potato, one large bell pepper. (You can use these and/or carrots and thick slices of onion.) Veggies were cut into chunks.

Oven should be heated to 425 degrees. Toss veggies with dressing in a large bowl, then add to a baking sheet coated with spray oil. Bake until tender, about 45 minutes. Stir veggies once or twice during baking to prevent sticking to the pan.

Verdict: SO DELICIOUS, and the house smelled great for two days! This is a really unique combination of seasonings and flavor, and with a well-stocked pantry, the marinade can be made almost any time, for whatever you’re cooking.

I also made wheat berries (in place of rice), dressed simply with olive oil, fresh cilantro and lemon juice. If you’re not sure what a wheat berry is, get rid of your preconception because NOT a berry. It’s a whole wheat kernel (flour is made from these little guys!) that can be used as you’d use rice.

Wheat berries are cooked with a 3:1 ratio (3 cups water, 1 cup dried wheat berries), and once cooked, they have a very chewy al dente texture and an earthy, nutty flavor. If you like white bread, these may take some getting used to. If you like whole grain bread full of nuts and seeds and little crunchy things, you’re going to LOVE wheat berries.

I had many ingredients already in my pantry, so this whole dinner only cost about $5.00. And there were plenty of leftovers. And room for vegan ice cream (barely).

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