21 September 2010

Grilled Tofu Steaks with Cilantro-Basil Pesto and Lemony Asparagus

Didn't I promise you a summery recipe? What's more summery that grilled asparagus, fresh squeezed lemon, zingy pesto, and crusty blackened tofu? This is something I made with my mom for the Fourth of July and it's been hanging out in my big folder of "Blog Photos" ever since. Finally, on the last day of summer when most people have probably closed up their grills for good, I'm posting it.
Don't just cast these recipes aside, though! This vegan pesto is really awesome and doesn't have to be smeared on grilled stuff. Put it on pasta or crusty bread and there you go, comforting fall food. The asparagus can also be roasted- that's what I did the first time I made it cause I didn't have a grill. It might even be better that way. And don't feel like you have to just use asparagus, either. I find that pretty much all vegetables taste delicious with some lemon juice, salt, pepper, and olive oil. That probably goes for fall veggies as well. Mmm. I can just imagine a big bowl of spaghetti squash drizzled with the stuff. delish.

Anyways, I like these recipes because they're healthy and vegan, something that's difficult to accomplish as a broke college student these days. Whenever I cook with my Mom, though, we always use really fresh ingredients and can afford to use the substitutes like organic soy milk and nutritional yeast that are hard for me to pay for by myself. I dig it :)

Grilled Tofu Steaks with Cilantro-Basil Pesto and Lemony Asparagus
1 block of extra firm tofu, drained, pressed, and cut into 1/2 inch wide steaks.
olive oil
kosher or sea salt
fresh cracked pepper

2 cups loosely packed fresh basil leaves
1 cup loosely packed cilantro
1.3 cup chopped walnuts
3 cloves garlic
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup olive oil

1 bunch asparagus
lemon juice
olive oil
kosher or sea salt
fresh cracked pepper

1. If you have a basil plant, I highly recommend using fresh basil for the pesto. I know it's a lot, but it's so worth it. I went out to our plant and snipped off a bunch of leaves until I had about two cups.

mmm, check out that fresh mid summer basil.
2. Once your tofu steaks have gotten rid of most of their moisture, rub all sides with a touch of olive oil and a liberal amount of salt and pepper. Let sit while you make the pesto.
3. Place basil, cilantro, walnuts, lemon juice, salt, and garlic in a food processor. Blend until a paste is formed, scraping the sides occasionally.

4. With the food processor still on, slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Process until combined.
5. Smear the tofu steaks with HALF of the pesto. The other half will go on the steaks after they have been grilled. Set aside to marinate while you prepare the asparagus. Which takes like five seconds.

6. Snap the ends off of one bunch of asparagus. In a small bowl, whisk together about 1/4 each lemon juice and olive oil until they're more or less emulsified.
7. Spread the asparagus on a baking sheet and drizzle with the liquid. make sure every inch is coated. You may not need all the mixture, or you may need to make more.
8. Crack fresh pepper and sprinkle coarse salt liberally over the asparagus. take some time to really rub the liquid and seasonings onto the asparagus. I like to think this makes little tears in the asparagus which helps it soak up all the yumminess.
9. Time to grill. Heat your grill to... I don't know... medium heat? I'm not much of a griller. It should be hot enough to, you know, grill stuff.
10. Lay out the asparagus and tofu steaks right out on the grill. Flip the steaks and turn the asparagus after a few minutes, checking their doneness. When the tofu is ready it will have deep brown grill marks and be heated through. The asparagus will be blistered and tender.
11. Top the steaks with the remaining pesto and serve!
Well, there you have it. A couple simple, summery grill recipes that are way overdue. A little testament to the last few hours of summer. Sadly what's keeping me from grilling isn't the cool weather... it's the fact that I think if I stand outside and try to cook something I will literally evaporate. Too. Damn. Hot.

But I'm sure you're sick of hearing me complain about the weather. I'll be back later in the week with progressively more autumny recipes!


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