Despite the two feet of snow that still blanket the lawn, the temperature is above zero and both my partner and I had the same reflex: BAR-B-Q!!! There’s no way to kick off the grilling season like some smoky, spicy, jerk sauce smothered all over a thick slab of tofu and a side of juicy vegetables. Serve it up over rich and creamy rice and beans and you have a memorable meal. No Bar-B-Q? No worries. You can also bake the tofu and vegetables for a less smoked but equally satisfying spread.
Yield: 4 generous servings
What you need for the tofu and veggies:
- 7 scallions, white parts only, chopped
- 1 green chili or jalapeño pepper, chopped
- 6 sprigs of fresh thyme
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1″ fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
- 2 bay leaves, crumbled
- 1 teaspoon allspice
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup sunflower or olive oil
- 2 tablespoons blackstrap molasses (organic and unsulphured)
- 1 lb tofu sliced into four thick slabs along the large side (see photos)
- 1-1/2 red peppers cut lengthwise into large wedges
- 4 oz whole mushrooms
What you need for the rice and beans:
- 1-1/2 cups cooked kidney beans (well rinsed if using canned beans)
- 1 cup brown basmati rice
- 1/3 cup red rice (or more brown basmati, but the red rice looks pretty)
- 2 cups unsalted vegetable broth
- a small (160 mL) can coconut milk (about 2/3 cup)
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 small onion, finely diced
- 1 tablespoon sunflower or olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsely
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon allspice
What you do for the tofu and veggies:
- In a blender, purée together the scallions, chili pepper, thyme, onion, ginger, garlic, bay, allspice, nutmeg, thyme, salt and apple cider vinegar until relatively smooth.
- Pour the mixture into a glass baking dish (or any other marinating vessel you deem fit) and whisk in the oil and blackstrap molasses.
- Add the sliced tofu slabs to the marinade and slather well. Marinate in the fridge several hours or overnight.
- An hour or two before cooking, add the sliced pepper and mushrooms to the marinade and mix to coat well.
- If you’ll be grilling, then get the Bar-B-Q ready, preferably with a packet of wood chips (Jack Daniel’s oak barrel if you’ve got it!) sprinkled with allspice handy to add some extra smoky flavour (for tutorials on smoking in the B-B-Q – you’ll have to Google it: that’s my partner’s department!). Get the veggies skewered and a long basting brush out. If you’re baking, preheat the oven to 350F and put everything, veggies and tofu, in a 9”x13” or larger oven-safe dish – you should have a single layer without too many overlaps.
- Grill/smoke the veggie brochettes for 2-4 minutes, until slightly charred on the outside, juicy and peppers still crispy. Grill/smoke the tofu slabs for about 5 minutes on each side, basting frequently, until grill marks are nice and dark and there are bits of crispy going on.
- If you’re baking rather than grilling, then you have a few options. You can bake anywhere between 45 minutes and an hour, depending on how much you want the sauce reduced. For more sauce, cover the dish for at least half the baking time. For less sauce and more sticky, then bake it uncovered. Either way, turn the slabs and veggies a couple of times during the baking period. Optionally, you can finish it off with a bit of broiling to get crispy bits happening.
- Serve immediately atop a bed of rice and beans, however you choose to cook it.
What you do for the rice and beans:
- Heat the oil in a large (3 quart) pot over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the onion and stir and fry until beginning to brown around the edges, 4-5 minutes.
- Add the garlic, stirring until fragrant, another minute or so. Add the salt, allspice, bay, thyme and parsley and toss once or twice. Now add the broth, water, coconut milk and rice.
- Bring to a boil, cover tightly and then lower heat to maintain a very low simmer (usually the lowest setting on the burner). Cook covered, 35-45 minutes, or until all the liquid is absorbed.
- Quickly add the cooked kidney beans over the rice, cover again, and turn off heat. Let sit 10-15 minutes.
- Using a rice spatula or wide spoon, mix the beans into the rice doing your best not to break up the rice grains.