Recipe:Stuffed tofu

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Stuffed tofu (prepared here with a parsley tomato accompaniment) is a fun and easy dish to make. It's vegetarian, but has enough flavor and texture that you won't even notice you're not eating flesh. It's not the best dish to prepare if you've never made tofu before, but everyone has to start somewhere!

Serves 2.

Ingredients and Prep

•12 oz extra-firm tofu. Tofu has little natural taste of its own, so it can be quite bland without further treatment. Here, we'll be giving it a fine flavor with a seared-on coating and delicious filling. It comes in many varieties of firmness, from silken to extra-firm. We want the firmest, because we are going to be manipulating it a lot and want it to hold together. Don't buy cubes; buy the slab.
Place the tofu on a clean hard surface, then cover it with your cutting board. Weigh down the board with a large cookbook, evenly. Tofu has a lot of water in it, and it needs to be squeezed out some. A half hour of this should be sufficient to prepare your tofu.
•1 head of garlic.
Wrap the whole head of garlic in aluminum foil, tightly and completely. Preheat your oven to 400 F, then roast the garlic in there for a half-hour. Make sure the garlic cloves are soft. You should be able to easily open them and squeeze out the roasted, delicious garlic (I also like to make roasted garlic like this and just eat it on bread).
•1/2 large white onion.
Mince and sauté with a little butter until translucent.
•1 large eggplant.
Cut into slices and cook on low heat in a pan until cooked. Use your fingers and remove the innards from the outside of the eggplant.
•1 16 oz. carton of cherry tomatoes.
•1 large bunch of curly parsley, also called "Italian parsley".
Clean it of stems. Do not chop.
•A small amount of butter.
•Small jar of sun-dried tomatoes.
•Balsamic vinegar.
•Olive oil.


Instructions

1. Combine cooked eggplant, onion, and garlic together in a bowl. Add six sprigs of chopped parsley, a pinch of salt, and a dash of ground black pepper. Combine until homogeneous.

2. Take the prepared tofu and cut it into fat slices. You will probably get four from a standard sized block of tofu. Make an incision in the side of each slice, running 3/4 of an inch from each end. Make clean and careful slices, and handle the tofu gently.

3. Stuff the tofu steaks with your prepared mixture. Do not overstuff, or else you'll split your steaks. You can generally fit in enough stuffing to double the width of your tofu steak at the center. Use your own judgment, unless you are SuperJosh (in which case it might be best to use someone else's judgment). If you have extra stuffing, it goes great in sandwiches with melted cheese.

4. Ideally, you now put the stuffed steaks in the fridge overnight, drizzling them lightly with balsamic vinegar and olive oil and covering them carefully. This will let the tofu absorb some of the flavors. This is not absolutely necessary, however, if you are in a hurry. If you do store them overnight, though, be very sure to completely seal up their container or cover them with plastic wrap. You don't want your tofu absorbing the flavor of the adjacent pickles in your fridge.

5. Preheat your oven to 350 F. While it is heating, take the tofu out. Rub it gently with balsamic vinegar and olive oil, then put it on a baking sheet. You might want to put foil down under the tofu to make it easier to clean up later.

6. Bake the tofu for 45 minutes. Halfway through (but no more), you can open the oven if you choose and drizzle more vinegar on. I usually do not. Even without additional vinegar, your tofu should form a nice glazed exterior.

7. While the tofu is baking (about 20 minutes before it finishes is the best time), put the cherry tomatoes in a pan on medium heat. Sauté them in a little olive oil until the tomatoes start to burst and release their juices. Don't squish them or try to rush it. Once they're cooked - usually about ten minutes or less - then add the rest of your parsley and turn the heat to high. Cook for a minute or two, until parsley is wilted. Drain off the liquid.

8. Plate the stuffed tofu with a sun-dried tomato on top, add the tomatoes on the side with some nice bread, and enjoy!