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 entrée 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.