Lent is drawing to a close — depending on whom you talk to, I can begin eating dairy at sundown of Maundy Thursday or after I go to Easter Mass — either Saturday Easter Vigil or Sunday morning. This little bit of information is especially important because it will impact the goodies I can enjoy for my pre-race dinner and post-race feed, as Saturday is the Pear Blossom Run here in Medford. A 10 miler requires just a bit of carbo-loading (to which a little cheesy would be tasty!) and a little reward post race (like a good omlette with feta!) and oh, yeah, CHOCOLATE.
In the meantime, I’m still using my tofu. This dish is one I kind of cobbled together after a little inspiration from my Uncle John, the closet chef. Uncle John has undeniably endured my finicky and fickle eating patterns. For instance, one summer he labored over fresh dough and presented us with pesto pizza. Undoubtedly, I know would fully enjoy the meal and insist on helping out in the kitchen, inquiring whether he made the pesto himself, which type of parmesan he preferred or if he toasted the pine nuts before blending. At the time, pizza = pizza hut, in my mind. Sadly I turned up my nose, and I’m sure my mom let out an exasperated “why do you have to be this way?” sigh.
I first watched my uncle prepare a similar bean dish over Thanksgiving dinner in 2003 — he quickly sauteed whole green beans with a little spicy black bean sauce. YUM. Later when he and the fabulous Aunt Barbara visited me in Portland the following spring, we ate at the Chinese restaurant Fuijuan (sp?) on the eclectic Hawthorne Avenue. He order beans and tofu, if I recall properly. And so, I decided to try my had at this. It started as a simple sautee of green beans in olive oil with a little minced garlic, and then I added some almonds to up the protein. For a while, I included shelled edamanes and sesame seeds, and finally after learning the “boiling tofu” trick, I have begun to add the tofu.
The recipe is rather simple — I use frozen, whole green beans (the chopped are too much like the lunch-lady dull green from elementary cafeteria days, if not in taste, then memory), almonds, olive oil, garlic, pepper flakes, and tofu.
Because tofu requires a little extra TLC for the flavor, when I’m using it, I’ll add it first to try and brown it a little — about 3 or 4 minutes?
** The tofu used here has previously been boiled to get out all the water. I typically will slice and boil a package and keep it in the refrigerator for easy use. You could sautee “unboiled” tofu, but it’s more likely to fall apart and doesn’t seem to soak up as much flavor.**
The green beans are sauteed next, in the same pan — 5 to 7 minutes total. Once the beans are nearly done (4-5 minutes?) I usually add the garlic and almonds about 2 to 3 minutes near the end. I spice it up with some sea salt and spicy red pepper flakes. I tend to heavy on the salt. I’d like to say it is because it enhances the flavors of the beans, but I just like salty things.