Tofu Cacciatore

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Blogging Marathon #31: Week 1/ Day 2
Theme: Meatless Dishes
Dish: Tofu Cacciatore

For the first week of the ‘Blogging Marathon’ I have chosen the theme as ‘Meatless Dishes’. I really am enjoying this challenge of converting meat dishes into meatless versions. Do check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM#31

Today’s recipe is an Italian recipe called ‘Cacciatore’, which when literally translated means ‘Hunter’. It is traditionally the recipe used by hunters to make whatever game they acquire from hunting. Traditionally chicken, pheasant, duck or rabbit is used in this recipe. But today in an attempt to make it meatless I have used tofu. I saw this recipe in the South Beach diet cookbook, and was intrigued by the recipe. I have used tofu in place of meat before in another one of my favorite Italian dishes – Tofu Parmesan and loved how it tasted, so I was eager to make this dish. It’s a very simple dish to make but tastes really good.

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Ingredients:
1 lb extra firm tofu
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, sliced
1 small red bell pepper, sliced
1 small green bell pepper, sliced
2 tbsp garlic, minced
1 tsp red pepper flakes(optional)
1 tsp dried Italian seasoning
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tbsp chopped fresh basil
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 28 oz can low sodium crushed tomatoes
a sprig of basil, for garnish
non stick cooking spray
salt, pepper to taste.

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Method:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Drain the tofu packed in water and wrap it in a clean kitchen towel and press it down with a heavy pan, to wring out as much of the moisture as possible. This step is very important as it will aid in the browning of the tofu. Cut the tofu into 1/2 inch slices and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Remember, the tofu by itself is pretty bland, so don’t skip this step.

Heat 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil in a pan and sear the tofu slices until golden brown on both sides. I worked the tofu in 4 batches to achieve this. Make sure not to crowd the pan for even browning. Set the browned tofu aside.

Add the remaining olive oil to the pan. Add the minced garlic and crushed red pepper flakes. Let this infuse the oil for a few seconds. Add in the sliced onion. Let this saute for a couple of minutes and add in the sliced bell pepper. Cook for a couple more minutes. Add the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, italian seasoning and oregano. Bring this to a boil and let it simmer for 10 minutes until saucy. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Grease a 9 X 13 baking dish with non stick cooking spray. Place the seared tofu in this dish and cover with the tomato sauce. Place this in the preheated oven and bake for 45 minutes. The dish is done when the sauce is absorbed well by the tofu and the tofu is coated evenly with the veggies and the sauce. Serve hot garnished with basil.

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Verdict: The Tofu Cacciatore was tender, flavorful, and filling. The tofu really stands well to the flavors typically used with meat. A side salad finishes off this Italian meal beautifully.

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