Saturday, April 3, 2010

Kale and Tofu Spring Stir-Fry on Spaghetti Squash

Now that's a sensical title for a blog post. Am I right? I'm realizing I need to reign myself in a bit from my penchant for cutesy titles, yet another vestigial reminder of my years and years of grad school. Either I need to simplify, making the titles of the posts clearly reflect the recipe content therein, or I need to let my freak flag fly. I, like most of the people I know who are products of too much humanities education, adore a long title. The best ones involve semi-colons. After those, the second tier have colons. If neither a semi-colon nor a colon is present, then the title must contain a gerund. If the title fails each of these three, then it's probably coherent and (more or less) to the point. For today, I'll let that suffice for my musings about the way that grad school inflects my current, decidedly non-academic, existence.

The most important word in this particular title is also the single preposition: on. I envisioned this dish as taking maximum advantage of the spaghetti squash, yet another one of those foods that manages to function like a complex carb without actually being one. As I look forward to the summer, and all the lighter clothing I hope to wear, I'm really into these kinds of things right now. If you know of any, please please don't hold back. The comment button is there for a reason. Use it. I've already written about using mushrooms for pizza crusts. And then there was the live onion bread. And the cabbage leaf rawco shells. While this recipe doesn't involve any kind of surprising use of the spaghetti squash, it does use it to maximum advantage.

Usually, when I make spaghetti squash, I make it place of actual spaghetti. I'll brew up a batch of garlicy marinara with mushrooms and some bean balls from the Veganomicon, and we'll eat the whole mess together with a heady sprinkling of nutritional yeast. And I'm way into eating spaghetti squash like that. For the meal about to describe, however, the spaghetti squash was actually a sort of last minute addition. I had some Russian kale, one of the new and fabulous things about our new home, and some carrots. I knew I was going to make a stir-fry with these vegetables, lightly cooked and seasoned, along with chunks of tofu and maybe nuts of some variety. Beyond that, I didn't have many ideas. As I slugged my way around the produce section (feeling very lethargic), I passed the squashes twice before circling back. This roundabout process produced the dish that is the subject of this post.

I've been very into simple stir-fries with simple seasonings lately. I get turned off by stir-fry recipes that involve a ton of different spices and sauces: vegetarian fish sauce, oyster sauce, teriyaki sauce, chili paste, different oils, etc. All of that gets really expensive, rich, and sort of ridiculous if you think about it. Instead, I've been experimenting with different combinations of fresh produce--raw and cooked--and seasoning with just a bit of olive oil, Bragg's, and fresh citrus juices. C hasn't been complaining.

I'm just a tiny bit ashamed to tell you that C and I ate the whole thing, a fact that will probably shock you if you follow the recipe with the suggested amounts. Until you do so, please imagine that this makes a very reasonable amount of food for two healthy adults. You're very kind.

Kale and Tofu Spring Stir-Fry ON Spaghetti Squash

1 medium spaghetti squash
1 lb firm or extra firm tofu
olive oil
sea salt
2 carrots
1/2 cup raw walnuts
1/2 sweet onion, chopped
3 mandarin oranges
Bragg's liquid aminos

Preheat your oven to 375. Cut the squash in half lengthwise. Remove the seeds and place cut side down on a baking sheet.

Here I should just pause to tell you that there are many schools of thought when it comes to cooking spaghetti squash. Some people like to microwave it. Others say you have to bake it in several inches of water. Some prick the squash with a knife; others do not. Personally, I try not to microwave much. I also find that baking the squash in a lot of water, when the squash is already ~mostly~ water, yields some seriously watery squash. I really dislike the feeling of eating my food out of a puddle of water. But maybe that's just me. I used to bake the squash in the water--because I thought I had to--and then put it in a strainer for as long as I could before eating. That solved part of the problem, but then the squash was cold, which necessitated the microwave, which I try not to use, and it was, truth be told, still pretty damned watery. This is how I do it now. I put just a bit of water on the baking sheet. The sheet can only hold a bit of water and still be safely transported from the counter to the oven without having it slop out all over the place. I place my unpricked squash on the sheet, as I've described, face down in a bit of water. Then I bake it for about 30 minutes. Please note that the time varies a lot from squash to squash. If your squash is bigger, obviously plan to increase your cooking time and vice versa for the small ones. Just plan to keep an eye on it. You can check your squash in two ways: First, if you can easily prick the squash through the peel as it sits face down on the sheet, it might be done. Flip it over slightly and test to see if you can scrape the squash out of the skin with a fork. When the squash has been properly baked, it will come out of the peel easily in spaghetti-like strands. If you can do all of this without burning yourself, you are twice the woman I am. Bravo. If you end up yelling about your scorched fingers to your next-room-over grumbling partner, then we are two peas in a pod.

Start baking your squash. Then get your tofu and cut it into 1/2 to 1 inch cubes, depending on your predilections. Transfer the tofu to a second baking sheet. Drizzle it with a bit of oil and sprinkle lightly with the sea salt. Stir it around gently to coat. Put the tofu in the oven with the squash. Plan to check both and give them a stir or a poke once every 10 minutes or so until your tofu is lightly browned and the squash is finished. When this has been accomplished, remove the pans and set them aside to cool slightly.

Heat a bit of oil in a medium frying pan. Add the onions and carrots and cook until they're just softening and the onions are golden. Add the kale and stir. At this point, if the pan seems dry, add a bit of water to deglaze and help steam the kale. Turn the pan off. Add the walnuts and Bragg's to taste. Peel two of the oranges and add the segments. Add the tofu that has been nicely browned and is chilling on your counter. Toss the whole lot together.

To assemble, scrape a portion of spaghetti squash onto a plate. Cut the remaining mandarin orange in half, and squeeze the juice onto the servings of squash. I used half an orange on two servings. Top the seasoned squash with the stir-fry.


b3carmain said...

I..don' Ever. Spaghetti, linguini, penne, or otherwise (if they exist).

JennShaggy said...

Haha I know...I like to think I hit the parent lottery.

Mmm...I looooove spaghetti squash. My mom used to make it for us all the time. Looks delicious!