I got off work early today, got in 50 minutes of exercise at Spirit Anacostia, and headed to an eatery in my neighborhood before I decided, “No. Just because the kids are away, doesn’t mean I really want to eat out.”
So I made a U-turn and made my way back home, where I had all of the ingredients needed to make a delicious meal of barbecue tofu pita pockets and baked fries.
I started with my absolute favorite variety of potato, The Yukon Gold (Sounds like a professional basketball team, don’t it?). I love this potato for its smooth texture and subtle, buttery flavor, and today I’m loving it even more because I have to cut up just one. Did I mention the kids are away?
I preheated the oven to 450 degrees, sprayed a thin coating of cooking spray on a baking sheet large enough so that the fries would not touch each other. I cut the potato into the size fries that I desired and put them in a medium glass bowl. I generously sprinkled the fries with garlic powder and onion powder, then added a little cayenne pepper, and topped them off with some sea salt. Next, I took a large spoon and whirled around the seasoned fries. Lastly, I drizzled some olive oil over the fries and whirled them around again. The point was to evenly coat the fries with both the seasonings and the oil.
I then poured the fries onto the cooking sheet and spread them so that the sides were not touching. I put the cooking sheet in the oven and baked the fries for about 10 minutes, checked them for desired tenderness, and added 5 more minutes of baking time. They came out golden, crispy and delicious.
As for the barbecue tofu, I used a recipe of mine that appeared in the article “Vegan Soul Grows in Anacostia” from The Washington Post. The recipe also appears below with links to some key ingredients.
During the last five minutes of the fries baking, I wrapped pita bread in foil and added it to the oven. Once the pita was hot, I cut it in half, lined each half with red leaf lettuce, added some sauce from the tofu on top of the lettuce, put chunks of barbecue tofu in the pita pocket, and topped it with some fresh, chopped red onion.
I put the fries and barbeque tofu pita pockets on a plate and started eating like the kids were going to walk in at any moment, then slowed down and savored the bites like a mom who realized her darling children would not be back for at least another 24 hours. . .
Vita’s Barbecue Tofu
- 4 servings
For the sauce
- 1 12-ounce bottle store-bought vegan barbecue sauce, such as Annie’s Naturals Organic BBQ
- 2 teaspoons maple syrup
- Pinch cayenne pepper (optional)
For the tofu
For the sauce: In a large saucepan over low heat, combine the barbecue sauce, maple syrup and cayenne pepper to taste, if desired. Add a fresh tomato for extra heartiness. Cover and keep warm on the lowest possible setting.
For the tofu: Pour enough oil into a large cast-iron skillet to fill at least 2 inches; heat over medium-high heat for about 15 minutes. To test whether the oil is hot enough, drop one of the chunks of tofu into it. If the oil immediately sizzles, then it is ready.
Meanwhile, in a large plastic bowl with a tight-fitting lid, combine the liquid amino acids, onion powder, garlic powder and ground ginger; add the cubes of tofu and seal the lid. Invert the bowl, turning it over gently a few times until the tofu is evenly coated. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
Working in batches, add the coated tofu to the hot oil and fry, turning the cubes, for 8 to 10 minutes or until an evenly crisp, golden brown coating forms. Do not crowd the skillet; adjust the heat as necessary. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the tofu directly to the warm barbecue sauce. Allow all of the fried tofu to cook in the sauce for about 30 minutes on the lowest possible setting, stirring gently to avoid breaking up the tofu.