This week's Meatless Monday recipe is a guest post from Kasey Fleisher Hickey of the food and music blog Turntable Kitchen.
Rhubarb is an ingredient that has long been contested in my family. My great grandfather grew it in his garden in Russia and would eat it to help his digestion; my father, on the other hand, won't go near the ambiguous plant. Some consider rhubarb a vegetable, while others consider it a fruit. In the springtime, when rhubarb stalks (think pink celery) are at their peak, I use it in both sweet and savory recipes: from pies, crumbles, and to sauces, jams, and chutneys.
In this recipe, I simmer rhubarb on the stove with onion, golden raisins, cinnamon, and sugar to create a thick chutney with a lovely pink hue and sweet-tart flavor. Pair it with crispy, caramelized triangles of tofu, some fresh cilantro, and whole-wheat orzo for a delicious vegetarian lunch or dinner. This dish welcomes the arrival of warmer months with a medley of fresh, crisp flavors and textures in each bite. Keep any leftover rhubarb chutney in the fridge, reheat it, and slather it on crusty bread. can be reheated and even spread on toast.
Caramelized Tofu with Savory Rhubarb and Onion Chutney
For the tofu:
1 package of extra firm tofu, sliced into 1 inch thick rectangles, then cut in half to form long triangles
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons of sugar (pure cane or brown sugar works here)
3 tablespoons of chopped cilantro, plus more for garnish
kosher salt and a freshly ground pepper, to taste
For the savory rhubarb and onion chutney:
1/4 cup of sugar
4-5 large stalks of rhubarb, roughly chopped
1 onion, roughly chopped
3 tablespoons of golden raisins
1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup of cooked whole wheat orzo
1. Combine the sugar and one cup of water in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook, without stirring, until the sugar begins to caramelize and turn a golden brown color.
2. Once this happens, remove the saucepan from the heat, stir in the rest of the ingredients, turn down the heat and let the sauce bubble and simmer for about 10-15 minutes (until the rhubarb has broken down, the onion is soft, and the mixture is thick and creamy). Season with salt and pepper, to taste. When the sauce is ready, let cool slightly while you prepare the tofu.
3. Season the tofu with salt and pepper, on both sides. Add a splash or two of grapeseed oil to a large, nonstick skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the tofu in one layer without crowding the pan. Cook the tofu in batches, if needed. Cook for several minutes on one side (until it begins to turn lightly golden). Flip and cook for another 1-2 minutes. Stir in the garlic and sugar. Cook for several more minutes, flipping once or twice, until both sides are golden brown and caramelized. Stir in the cilantro.
4. Place several pieces of caramelized tofu over the whole wheat orzo. Top with a generous scoop of rhubarb and onion chutney. Sprinkle with cilantro. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, and serve with additional chutney on the side.