Thursday, July 15, 2010

Blackened Tofu, It's Good to Have You Back

When I got married and moved to Little Rock, I had only been a vegan for a few years. And those were poor-in-college years. I survived on cold cereal, spaghetti with jar sauce, and Subway Sandwiches. I barely knew what tofu was, and I had to use that soymilk powder mixed with water in a mason jar for my mini-fridge.

That's me, my junior year of college...notice how it looks like Brad is looking at me?
Did anyone else feel like they fell in love with him while watching Legends of the Fall?

The year that I ate in the cafeteria, my favorite night was taco night. I got taco shells filled with lettuce and tomato (maybe I added olives from the salad bar). But they wouldn't let us have more than 2 or 3 at a time. I'd ask, "Can I please have a few more? I'm a vegetarian, and this is all I can eat." No,they made me wait in line again for a few more, which I had to do so that I wouldn't starve from only eating 2 taco shells filled with lettuce and tomato.

Wow, now that I'm thinking about it, I barely recognize this person I'm talking about. When Ryan and I were engaged, we thought we were really BIG TIME when we discovered we could microwave a bag of frozen vegetables and put them on a tortilla with salsa. THAT was a great meal to us.

It was those experiences that probably contributed to my Blackened Tofu obsession. It was so fun to be married/out on our own , and while we didn't have a lot of money (My paycheck was around $400 every two weeks as a private school teacher.), it still felt like a lot to us. And it was OUR money. We didn't have to ask our parents for money anymore.

Most Saturday mornings, we drove over to Whole Foods (It was Wild Oats then.) and stocked up. We went overboard choosing things from the deli and bakery (and lots of other stuff to cook throughout the week). Then we would rent a few movies (We didn't watch a lot of movies in college; we had a lot of catching up to do!), lie in bed all day, and eat out of our plastic deli containers. Awww...the life of newlyweds. We look back on this time with the utmost longing...usually when our kids are all fighting and interrupting us and jumping on the couch.

Just for fun, let's look back at that time...we were so young...sigh...and thin.
This was on our honeymoon at Tupelo, Mississippi...birthplace to Elvis.

Blackened Tofu with my FAVORITE salad:
romaine with caesar dressing from Post Punk Kitchen

Anyway, I always went straight to the deli to get a container full of Blackened Tofu. I've never been the biggest fan of spicy food...but I couldn't get enough of this. I continued getting this for several years...until...they STOPPED making it. (For the record, our Whole Foods could be A LOT more vegan-friendly than they are.) I actually worked at this Whole Foods for about 6 months, and I tried to pull up my vague memory in order to replicate the recipe. I have made this once before, I think, but the other day, I decided to get serious about it.

Blackened Tofu, eaten on my Food for Life gluten free tortilla with greens, sprouts, avocado, and tomatoes

I squeezed the water out of 3 tubs of tofu, then froze it.

After it thawed, I cut it into strips.

I carefully rolled the tofu in enough olive oil to help the spices stick...and then rolled it in the spices. Then I baked it. Maybe 25 minutes at 350? (That part is a little fuzzy; I'll go back and do it again, then edit this.)

I used this seasoning (which is what the used in the deli):
Chef Paul Prudhomme's Blackened Redfish Magic Seasoning Blends
(Salt, Herbs and Spices, Dehydrated Garlic, Paprika and Dehydrated Onion)

Since I did not think my kids could handle the massiveness of this spiciness, I also made them plenty rolled in just olive oil and cornmeal. It was definitely a hit for their little mouths.

Let's talk about how spicy the Blackened Tofu hurts, it's so spicy. Like you have to drink something after you take a bite. Like hurts so good spicy. Again, I'm not a fan of jalapenos - and barely even onions, but I just love these for some reason. Ryan does, too.

It was a bit of a game with the kids - take a bite, yell, "Aaa! It's spicy!" and take a drink. And repeat.

Cornmeal dusted tofu: 10 thumbs up
Blackened tofu: 4 adult thumbs up


  1. Oooh a Whole Foods kitchen spy! How exciting! :D

    The tofu looks amazing, even though I am a big heat wimp!

    By the way, Brad Pitt is totally checking you out there! :D

    Thank you so much for following me to Wing-It Vegan! Halloweegan is an insane ride, so hold on tight! And I am sure there will be
    plenty of Gilmore Girls talk around here! :)

  2. This post made me cry, for a few different reasons.
    I forget how long Ryan's been in our lives! Unbelievable.
    I might try the un-spicy version for my kiddos. I know R would like it...maybe even W, if I get lucky.

  3. Hi there :) When you said you squeezed the tofu water out, was that by hand or using a tofu press? I'm so curious. Your tofu came out looking amazing!! Haha I would love to test my spice tolerance with that.

  4. River, I can't imagine anything better than talking about Gilmore Girls over vegan treats!

    Cary, you were practically a little girl when Ryan came along...sniff, sniff. I'll make some of the tofu for you guys next week!

    Diana, I just squeezed it out by hand - and by placing it on a plate with another plate on top. Then it was amazing how much water came out of it while in the freezer. I would love to have a tofu press, though!

  5. Cary, does the title of my post bother you?

  6. That tofu looks awesome! Thanks for checking out my blog. I am adding your blog to my blog list. I see you live in Little Rock. I live in Jackson, TN. We don't have a Whole Foods here, so we have to make a trip to Memphis about once a month for the things I can't find in the big "J" touwn. Jackson is not a vegan place, that's for sure! :o)

  7. It would've if it had been "Dear Blackened Tofu, It's good to have you back. Love, Jenny"
    Not too little a girl. I was in high school. But it does seem like forever. I knew him back when his hair was long and blonde.

  8. Awesome post. I never thought i'd be were I am now either! I never cooked and ate tortillas with salsa non stop! Now, I'll at least put something fancy in the tortilla!

  9. Blackend Tofu is such a great idea, and that wrap looks fantastic. This is such a sweet post; you and your husband sound like such a cute couple.

  10. Oh, wow!!! This looks totally amazing! Such a cute story about you & your husband, too. :)

  11. You so need a tofu press girl! That would be perfecto for all your tofu needs :)

  12. The food looks great, and your photos/text are very sweet!

  13. Thanks so much for stopping by my blog. I'm in Little Rock too and I remember when Whole Foods/Wild Oats was actually Beans Grains and Things!

    Loved reading this b/c it made me think back to my early vegetarian days. Wow...not sure how I managed to stay nourished LOL.

  14. I've never seen Legends of the Fall... and I've never had blackened tofu. How sad is this? I think I need some culture ASAP! :)

  15. LOL! LOVE the Brad Pitt poster flashback.

  16. must watch it...and eat it! I'm going to have to say I loved Brad Pitt in Legends of the Fall even more than I love blackened tofu.

    Heather! I completely forget that it was Beans & Grains & Things. I'm going to edit my story. I think it was even called that when I worked there. I think I remember our manager having a meeting with us and telling us it was going to change. Then for the longest time I kept calling it Beans, then I got used to it, and only now have we gotten used to calling it W.F. instead of Wild Oats.

    And thanks, everyone!!!

  17. I remember my early veg days and not knowing how to cook tofu. I tried and failed so many times at home before I learned how to do it! The blackened tofu looks great - I agree, a hit of spice would be a nice addition in those cool wraps or salads.

    Oh, I'm with you on the no need to for a tofu press. A cast iron skillet works wonders and does double duty for cooking it too.