Roasted Tofu & Veggies – A One-Pan Meal

I apologize for not getting this out to you in time for Cinco de Mayo. With it’s fresh mexican flavors of lime, chili and cilantro, this dish would have been the perfect easy meal for those of you on your 3rd margarita by supper time. The whole thing roasts on one baking sheet, making for easy prep and clean up. I wish this brilliant idea was my own, but I first read about it on The First Mess. She roasts kale with the tofu, uses a different flavor profile all together, and credits Bryant Terry for her recipe. No matter where it came from, I love the idea, so plan on seeing plenty of riffs on it in the future.

The only thing you really need to pay attention to here is the timing. I suggest waiting until you see a decent amount of browning on the tofu before you even think about adding the vegetables to the pan. Otherwise, the mushrooms and asparagus will be done too soon. The mushrooms take up quite a bit of space to begin with, but will shrink down before it’s time to add the asparagus. I chopped the asparagus into smaller lengths, mostly because they are easier for me to eat and fit on the baking sheet. They would probably look better if you left them whole, so go ahead  if you are so inclined. And if you need to feed a family with this, you can use two baking sheets when you double it, which will make timing a bit easier. Or you could just make the same amount and serve it with rice, polenta, or some other grain.

I don’t want you to think me snooty when you read the need for organic limes here. See, the strongest lime flavor and fragrance comes not from the juice of the lime, but from the zest, or the outermost part of the fruit. This is the case for all citrus fruits. So, while the inside of a conventional lime (or lemon, orange, etc.) isn’t exposed to a whole lot of pesticides, the zest sure is. And on top of that, conventional citrus is waxed. Again, not a big deal if your only eating the inside, but if you are using the peel, as in this recipe, I suggest going organic. Of course you all know there are other reasons to buy organic and local produce, but from the personal safely perspective it’s extra important for certain things. For more info on this, check out The Dirty Dozen, 12 fruits and veggies with the most exposure to pesticides.

I can see this going in a million different directions. Pretty much any veggie that can be roasted would work. Try broccoli, cauliflower, peppers, sweet potato. Swap lemon juice for the lime, or brown rice vinegar. Add sunflower or sesame seeds to give it an Asian flair, pine nuts for Italian-ness. And for vegans, swap out the  creme fraiche for avocado. If you come up with any inspired ideas, please share!

Roasted Tofu & Veggies

2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. chili flakes
1 tsp. cumin seeds
1 organic lime, zested and juiced
1/4 c. avocado oil (or other oil)
8 oz. firm tofu, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
8 oz. shiitake (or crimini or portabella) mushrooms
1 bunch asparagus
2 T. pumpkin seeds
1/2 cilantro, roughly chopped
a dollop of creme fraiche, or grating of jack, or white cheddar, or some diced avocado, or…

Preheat oven to 400.

Combine garlic and salt in a mortar and pestle and pound into a paste. Alternatively, sprinkle the salt over the garlic on your cutting board, and smoosh into a paste with the flat side of your chef’s knife. Add the chili flakes, cumin and zest, and pound or smoosh some more. Mix in the juice and oil.

Place cubed tofu in a bowl. Pour over about 1/3 of the lime/oil mixture and toss to coat. Spread on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the mushrooms. Leave any small ones whole, medium sized get halved, and the large ones are quartered. Basically, you’re trying for similar sized, so they cook evenly. Tip these into the same bowl you just had the tofu in, and pour another 1/3 of the lime mixture in, tossing to coat.

After about 20-25 minutes, your tofu should be starting to brown. Flip it, and add the mushrooms to the pan. They  take up a lot of space, but will condense as they cook. Give them about 10 minutes in the oven.

Now slice the asparagus, or leave it whole, whatever you choose. Toss in the remaining lime mixture, in the same bowl, and when the mushrooms are up, take the sheet out of the oven, scoot everything over and make space for the asparagus, spreading it into a single layer on the pan. Leave this in the oven for 5-10 minutes, depending on the width of your asparagus.

There are two options with the pumpkin seeds. Either make space for them on the baking sheet about 3 minutes before the whole thing is ready to come out of the oven – or roast them in a dry skillet.

When it comes out of the oven, sprinkle half of the cilantro over the pan and dump the whole thing into a serving bowl. Top with the rest of the cilantro, the pumpkin seeds and creme fraiche.

serves 2

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