Monday, September 22, 2008

One Last Zucchini

Today is the first day of fall, and legally, it should be the end of zucchini season. I hear those of you who garden have been losing your minds trying to figure out what to do with your summer squash. I don’t wish to offend, but I have no sympathy for you. Despite my numerous pleas, no one has left any zucchini in my mailbox nor at my front door. I’m thinking about opening up a Zucchini Orphanage in the hopes of attracting some donations.

Despite the promises of fall—its cool breezes, orange pumpkins, cozy sweaters, steaming mugs of hot apple cider—I don’t mind a zucchini or two lurking around my kitchen. I really like zucchini! I like their mild flavor, the way they add texture and bulk to soup, and the way they add toothsome vegetal layers to pizza. I like the way they require minimal prep work—no peeling necessary, and you can cut or grate them in less time than it takes to groan, “Not another zucchini!” But the real reason I’m discussing zucchini with you on the first day of fall is because I’ve got the perfect recipe in hand for one last zucchini: Southwestern Tofu Scramble.

I deserve absolutely no credit here. The recipe is from EatingWell (did anyone else not realize this magazine spells its name as one word?), but I raise my spoon to my friend Nicole, who is brilliant. Nicole gave the recipe two thumbs up and told me I really ought to try it. She is a wonderful source of recipes and cooking recommendations; Nicole clearly knows her stuff when it comes to tofu. This recipe does not disappoint. Seasoned with classic southwestern spices and packed full of vegetables, this is tofu at its friendliest and most delicious. As lunch or dinner, it is light yet filling (always a mysterious combination in my mind) and it reheats well in the microwave for a brown-bag lunch at work. I’ve only made this recipe for me, but I have no problem polishing off all the leftovers. Nicole is usually cooking for two, and she’s even inclined to double the recipe because it makes for such good lunches. If you have to share your tofu scramble, that’s a wise strategy indeed.

Southwestern Tofu Scramble
From EatingWell magazine
Makes 3-4 servings

This recipe is fantastic, and I follow it almost exactly as the magazine published it. The spicing and saltiness are perfect; I don’t tinker with those things here. I do, however, play it loose with the final add-ins: the cheese, salsa, and fresh cilantro. For all of these things, I just add a dollop or a few fresh leaves and call it lunch. I’ve listed both the magazine’s suggested measurements as well as adding my own “to taste” instructions, which, quite frankly, could be added in bold letters to just about any recipe. You should always feel free to play around in the kitchen, but some recipes are more playful than others.

To round out this entrĂ©e into a meal, I like to eat it with corn chips and a green salad or a piece of fruit. Or all three if I’m feeling especially hungry.

3 tsp. canola oil, divided
1 14-oz. package of firm or extra-firm water-packed tofu, drained and crumbled into small pieces (I just break it into small pieces with my fingers)
1 1/2 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. cumin powder
1/2 tsp. salt, divided
1 small or medium zucchini, diced
3/4 cup frozen corn (thawed or not—EatingWell suggests thawing it, but I never do because I’m lazy. It’s your call.)
4 scallions, sliced into small pieces
1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack or sharp cheddar cheese, or to taste
1/2 cup salsa, or to taste
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, or to taste

1) In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1 1/2 tsp. of the canola oil over medium heat. Add the crumbled tofu, chili powder, cumin, and 1/4 tsp. of salt. Cook for 4-6 minutes, stirring frequently. This step infuses the tofu with the spices. Transfer tofu mixture to a bowl.
2) Add the remaining 1 1/2 tsp. of canola oil to the pan and heat over medium heat. Add the zucchini, corn, and scallions along with the remaining 1/4 tsp. salt. Cook for about 3 minutes, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are just tender. Add the vegetables to the bowl containing the tofu and mix thoroughly.
3) At this point, if you are using cheese, you can either add it to the bowl containing the tofu and vegetables or you can sprinkle some cheese on top of individual servings. Add some salsa and cilantro to each serving if desired. Eat.


ttfn300 said...

Ooh, I've been meaning to try some new ways with tofu, I'll be giving this one a shot! :)

ps- i didn't know that either about EatingWell, I always put the space!

Rosiecat said...

ttfn300, I think this tofu recipe is a great place to start expanding your tofu recipe collection. It's my new favorite!

As for EatingWell, isn't it funny how our eyes and brains trick us into seeing things that aren't there? I've had a subscription to EatingWell for about three or four years now, and I just realized how they ACTUALLY spell their name a few months ago!

Thanks for stopping by!

boston girlie said...

I just love this recipe! And I agree about not measuring the add-ins. It had not occurred to me that zucchini was going out of season, and I would thus lose my chance to make this dish. Bummer! I'll stretch it out for as long as possible... And maybe I'll try it with another vegetable. Hmmm.

JD said...

Wife and I had our first experience with eggplant not to long ago. It actually has much of the same texture as Zucchini, and is just as easily prepared. It is easily chunked up for use in stir fry's and such, and readily takes on flavors.

Rosiecat said...

Boston Girlie, you are my tofu guru. As for zucchini, I know that summer is zucchini's most proliferative season, but like many vegetables, it tends to be in supermarkets all year long. And just between you and me, I couldn't even find zucchini at my farmer's market on Saturday...I had to buy it at Whole Foods (shhh!). If you do try this recipe with other vegetables, let me know!

JD, glad to hear you and the Wife are mixing it up with new vegetables! I must confess that I'm not a huge eggplant fan, but I think it might be a question of preparation. I haven't given up on eggplant altogether, but I'm certainly not buying it by the bushel either.

Asmodeus said...

Asmodeus is a known carnivore--but this dish dissolves all such earthly gastronomical boundaries. Tofu: well-prepared, it is the permeable membrane of hunger and satiety, carnivorousness and vegetarianity, love, distraction, I, thou.

Anonymous said...

RA, if you lived here, we would send our parentless zucchinis to your orphanage.

Although I do think our zuke plants have bit the dust for this year . . .


Nick said...

I love EatingWell, don't think I noticed the one word thing either. The thing that annoys me about them is that you get the magazine, and then for the next 2 months they slowly release all of the magazines recipes online. Almost seems a waste to buy it...but I guess it's a matter of having them all in front of you with the pictures and being rip-out-able and write-on-able.

Rosiecat said...

Asmodeus, never has tofu been so highly praised by a carnivore.

Aw, thanks, AMPD! I would take such good care of your orphaned zucchinis. But perhaps you are a bit relieved that zucchini season is over, at least in your backyard?

Hmm, that's an excellent point, Nick! I haven't really thought about canceling my EatingWell subscription, though, because I love the column by Mark Scarbrough and Bruce Weinstein. Those guys are great food writers--funny, smart, and totally in love with each other and food. I really like food magazines that devote some space to food story-telling. I already have too many recipes and not enough time, so I want to be entertained by something a little deeper than a collection of recipes.