I have to preface this entry with a thanks to my friend, Nick, without whom there might not be an entry and there definitely wouldn't be such an interesting meal. Today was a busy day, and last night was date night so (obviously) there was no dinner prep done in advance for tonight. This lack of forethought doesn't happen often, but when it does it leaves me severely crippled in terms of dinner options.
I buy dry beans. This means that they need to be soaked the night before, rice takes at least an hour to cook, and I had eaten all of the kale. I was also out of balsamic vinegar, my default salad topping. Tofu was living in the fridge, but I hadn't had the chance to marinate it. What to do for dinner? I didn't leave school until 6:30 tonight, and by the time I left I was starving. My mind was running through ideas on the subway ride home (the most popular one being consuming two luna bars and maybe some carrots) and was texting my friend Nick. He reminded me of my blog, and I realized that I really do have the capabilities learned from my parents to make something delicious out of nothing. I need to stop being such a big baby sometimes.
With a renewed sense of purpose, I plowed on home and created THIS! I looked into the pantry and pulled out a jar of sunflower seeds, a jar of flax seeds, a can of stewed tomatoes, a box of Trader Joe's whole grain sesame crackers, some nutritional yeast, and some whole wheat flour. I grabbed the tofu and some almond milk out of the fridge and got to work. It immediately got pressed with a towel (to get the extra water out) and cut into six pieces.
I then grabbed a ziplock bag and put a handful of each of the following: sunflower seeds, nutritional yeast, sesame crackers, and flax seeds. This was crushed with a rolling pin until it was mostly crumbs. I then dipped the tofu pieces first in some flour, then the almond milk, and then the ground seed/cracker mixture I created (it was meant to resemble breadcrumbs). I put it on a tray and baked for about 25-30 minutes at 350 degrees.
While the tofu "cutlets" were baking, I dumped the canned tomatoes onto a saucepan and added some minced garlic and diced Spanish onion.
Normally I prefer fresh things to canned, but aside from the obvious save in a pinch, tomatoes are an exception to this rule. Contrary to their year-round availability in the supermarket, tomatoes aren't really in season all the time. Usually they start reaching full potential in the summer/early fall. When making a sauce any other time of year it is better to use canned tomatoes. They pick the tomatoes for canning when they are actually ripe, as opposed to picking them while they are still green and ripening them with ethylene gas like they do with out of season tomatoes.
The sauce simmered away on the stove, and with nothing but time and excitement on my side I was then seized with another surge of creativity. I grabbed some umeboshi plum vinegar, soy sauce, maple syrup, and Dijon mustard from the cabinet. A salad would go great with these "cutlets", and who needs balsamic vinegar anyhow? I'll be damned if I let that ever stop me from having a salad again. The maple syrup may sound strange, but umeboshi vinegar is very bitter. Delicious, but bitter. It goes great with soy sauce, but some sweetness really helps to balance out the acidity when consuming it raw like I was about to, so I threw in the maple syrup to tone it down. All I really had for salad were some mixed greens, three small peppers, and some cucumber so I chopped those up and threw them into the bowl with the homemade dressing. It was AAMAAAZINGGGGGG!!!
By this time, my stomach was about to eat itself and the "cutlets" were finally ready. I threw two of them onto a plate with a sizeable portion of the sauce, took a picture for you all, and went to town. This may not seem like a crazy meal by looking at the picture, but the taste was incredible and the tofu cutlet was baked to perfection (crispy but still moist on the inside). I'm glad I wrote this all down in the blog so I could remember what I did.
It also tasted even better because of the effort, I think. The whole meal was a big experiment, and it worked out so freaking well I can't believe it. You'll notice a chocolate soymilk there. I know. I shouldn't. BUT I was rewarding myself for not being such a turd. So what did YOU have for dinner?