Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Vegan MoFo 16.2: Fra Diavolo Flavored Tofu and Butternut Squash Soup with Chipotle and Lime


We woke up to a thick foggy morning but it was fairly warm at 50 degrees. Since we have a lot of leafy greens in the refrigerator we both had kale and banana smoothies this morning with ground flaxseeds, walnuts, cinnamon and ginger. I know you are shocked to see a green smoothie on my blog, LOL.

Thankfully there are lots of leftovers in the refrigerator for lunch. I was able to pack soup from Saturday and big serving of curried unfried rice for Dan to take to work.

My lunch was ½ portion of the curried unfried rice and some fat-free hummus from a dusting of paprika and pine nuts, raw parsnip, green bell pepper and an olive. I added the olive because I was craving a little salt.

I had a lot of things to do today to get caught up from last week which meant Monday was a bit busy and rushed for me. To keep things easy I decided to make the tofu and soup earlier in the day to have on hand at dinner time.

The tofu is based on a traditional Italian recipe that is typically made with chicken. Fra diavolo stands for brother devil and refers to the spiciness of the dish. It is traditionally made with olive oil which I omitted since I don’t cook with oil as you know. Here is what I did:

Tofu Fra Diavolo
Serves 2

Tofu Ingredients:

14 ounces extra firm organic tofu (make certain it doesn’t contain added soy protein which would mostly likely be isolated)
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon hot crushed peppers (wet hots)
freshly ground black pepper

Salad Ingredients:

½ red onion, peeled and thinly sliced on a mandoline
1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar, or to taste
dried Italian seasoning, to taste (about ¼ teaspoon)
1 cucumber, cut into quarters and then sliced ¼ to ½ inch thick pieces
¼ cup fresh parsley minced, optional


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees convection. Line a sheet pan with silpat or parchment.

Drain the liquid from the tofu and press it to remove the excess water. Cut the tofu into six slabs. I only choose 6 pieces because things in 3’s look better on a plate. Place the tofu on the sheet pan.

Mix the Dijon and hot crushed peppers and then place 1/6 of the sauce mixture on each slice. This is what the tofu looks like before it is baked.

Bake until you like the texture. Dan prefers his tofu to be more firm so I baked ours about 45 minutes. This is what it looked like when it came out of the oven.

Once the tofu was room temperature I refrigerated it until dinner.

To make the salad sprinkle the sliced red onion with a little red wine vinegar and dried Italian seasoning and toss to coat. Add the remaining ingredients and toss. Cover the salad and refrigerate until it is time to eat. My salad marinated for at least 3 hours and the cucumbers were still crisp.

To serve place the salad on the base of the plate and top with the slices of cold baked tofu. Yes I served this cold as a salad and we liked the texture of the tofu better cold. Not to mention it made this a truly make ahead meal no reheating required. This would also be great to pack for lunch.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 237.01
Calories From Fat (44%) - 104.2

Total Fat - 12.5g
Saturated Fat - 1.13g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 125.69mg
Potassium - 707.81mg
Total Carbohydrates - 14.53g
Fiber - 3.74g
Sugar - 3.31g
Protein - 22.12g


I don’t typically serve baked tofu cold but I have to say the texture when it is made this way is really good. For some reason it is much more firm when cold which Dan appreciated. The flavor of the tofu is mildly spicy, but not terribly hot. I probably wouldn’t try to serve this to anyone that doesn’t like heat but I think it would work in many dishes. This is a very simple technique and results in a nice firm tofu which would be good on a salad on in a collard wrap. Don’t be surprised if you see that in the future. ;-)

To accompany the tofu and veggie salad I wanted to make a hot soup. I decided to do a test run of the soup I was planning for Thanksgiving and it is good that I did. While I liked the heat level as I made it below I know my mother would find this mind blowingly hot *shakes head* but she thinks black pepper is intense so consider the source. Here is what I did:

Butternut Squash Soup with Chipotle in Adobo and Lime
Serves 3


1 butter nut squash, cut in half seeds removed
1 yellow onion, peeled and diced
6 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
water or veg stock necessary to process (I probably used 3 or 4 cups)
1 or 2 chipotles in adobo, depending on how much you like heat (I used 2 but I like heat)
1 lime, zested and juiced
¼ teaspoon cumin seeds, or to taste
black pepper, to taste


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees convection. Cut the butternut squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Place the squash halves on a sheet pan lined with silpat or parchment. Bake until the squash is tender when pierced with the tip of a paring knife. This should take anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour.

Allow the squash to cool so that you can handle it. You now have two options. If the squash was organic and you are using a high speed blender, like a Vitamix you can place the squash and skin in the pot which is what I did. I did tear the squash into pieces with my hand to make it easier to process later. Alternately you can use a spoon and scoop the squash flesh from the skin and place that in the pot. Now add the other ingredients and cook until the onions and garlic are tender, about 20 minutes. Allow the veggies to cool a little and then process in your blender and return to the soup pot to heat, or refrigerate until needed. Taste for seasoning and adjust to your taste.

I served this with a few dehydrated red onions on top.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 98.39
Calories From Fat (3%) - 2.77

Total Fat - 0.33g
Saturated Fat - 0.07g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 17.55mg
Potassium - 638.24mg
Total Carbohydrates - 25.22g
Fiber - 4.55g
Sugar - 5.38g
Protein - 2.51g


We liked this soup quite a bit but I suspect that my parents would find the soup to be too “clean”. If I decide to serve this to my parents I will either add raw cashews to the base when I process it in the Vitamix or finish it with lime flavored cashew crème fraiche.

Why I no longer watch the Food Network:

A good friend of mine called me yesterday and wanted me to turn on the Food Network. Seriously I knew I shouldn’t watch long but it ended up staying on my TV for a few hours. Another friend of mine had mentioned that Giada’s recipes are healthy. Really? I can’t say I see that.

The recipe I saw Giada make yesterday was vegetarian (it would be vegan without the 1/2 cup of parm) and I wouldn’t eat this nutritional disaster unless someone had a gun to my head. I was horrified when she used ¾ of a cup of olive oil in a salad for 4 people. Needless to say I had to run the nutritional numbers on this recipe. I had to make a few assumptions like the amount of salt she used in the water to boil the pasta which looked like a tablespoon. Each serving of this recipe contained over 1,000 calories (50 from the parm), 46 grams of fat (3 from parm) and more sodium than you should have in an entire day and this was one side dish not a meal. OMG! I could not believe how bad this was.

This is a perfect example of what can go wrong with vegan food. Sure no animal was hurt in the making of this food (if you leave off the parm) but what about the impact on the humans that will be eating the food? When I first began eating vegan food I assumed that because there was no cholesterol and little saturated fat that vegan food had to be healthier than omni food. I no longer believe that is true. Each day many other vegans post recipes that are unhealthy. Have any of read the ingredient lists on vegan dairy or meat substitutes? Talk about a scary science projects meant for human consumption. Yuck! :-p

It is incredibly sad to see other people preparing and eating food that is harming their health and the health of their familes. When I was growing up my parents knew nothing about nutrition other than the misinformation that is taught in school and disseminated by the government. How did we as a country get so nutritionally messed up? *shakes head*  The most disturbing part is that people seem to be addicted to the unhealthy stuff.  *sigh*

Sorry for the rant but the nutritional statistics on the recipe from yesterday were so absurd that I had to talk about this. While I realize this is one of those subjects that everyone feels strongly about (as I clearly do) I also think it is important to bring it up. As wives and mothers (or fathers) we are responsible for the health of our respective families. Eating has a direct impact on your health and something that I feel is very important. While I know many people aren’t ready to eat as healthfully as we I hope you eat more like us than you do than like the recipe I linked to above. If you don’t please let me be delusional and continue to think you do. ;-)

Speaking of being messed up nutritionally this is another reason I am excited about going to see “Forks Over Knives” in a few weeks. I fully expect to love the flick. Maybe I need to tone down my expectations a little. I wouldn’t want to set myself up for disappointment.

Happy Thoughts:

With the steady rain we had today and my achy knee it is a bit tough to focus on happy thoughts at the moment. However I think that is probably the best time to think of them. ;-) Today I am grateful for:

• A relaxing day at home curled up on the sofa with a mug of green tea and a few books to keep me company.
• The fact that the rain is expected to end overnight which means I can get back to my normal routine tomorrow. I am looking forward to walking to the library to pick up a vegan cookbook I put on hold yesterday which will hopefully be available tomorrow.
• The college where Dan and I graduated is in our neighborhood, has a reasonable alumni gym membership rate. We are going to check it out soon, hopefully this week. Hello swimming in the winter. I will be a happy girl about that, LOL. Swimming has always been one of my favorite activities. If they also have indoor tennis courts I will in complete heaven.
• My three little felines are being so cooperative about taking their medications. It is nice to have them be uncharacteristically good. ;-)
• Dan bought me some beautiful jewelry that I need to share with you soon. I am not certain if it is part of my Christmas present which is why I haven’t taken pictures yet. Yes, I am very spoiled. ;-)
• I am really looked forward to the Johns HopkinsWomen’s Health Conference in Baltimore this weekend. Are any of you attending? Please let me know if you are so we can meet during one of the breaks or at lunch.
• Last I am grateful that we were able to get seats to the advanced screening of “ Forks Over Knives” on December 8 at the Johns Hopkins School of Health. I have wanted to see this since I first heard about it almost a year ago.

Signing out:

I am a very lucky lady and have a lot to be thankful for today. I hope all of you are equally fortunate in your lives. I need to go so that I can make Dan a batch of strawberry banana soft serve. It isn’t he wants to eat it, he needs the calories. Well that is what he told me. Enjoy your evening! Talk to you again tomorrow.


  1. One of the first raw cook books I read was by Ani Phyo - I was HORRIFIED by the amount of oil in her recipes. Our eating is FAR from perfect (whatever that is!), but cutting down on the oil, salt, etc. is so second nature to me now that I would never make a recipe like that 'as is'.

    Hope you have a great day!

  2. Neca,

    I know what you mean about the amount of oil in raw books. It isn't just Ani's books or for that matter raw books that do that.

    Our diet isn't perfect either though I keep trying to make it better, healthier.

    Whenever I watch the Food Network I end up talking to the TV. The sad thing is that Paula Deen and Ina Garten's recipes are worse. Who makes a side dish with that much fat and calories? *ugh*

    I hope you have a great day too. ;-)


  3. Ali, could you say a little more about soy protein isolate? I know you mention it a lot - I've never really looked into it myself.

  4. Hi Ali. First of all, everything, as always, looks YUM! I'm into the tofu and ESPECIALLY the SOUP! I love soup!!! Secondly, I love your post about Giada's recipe. I still watch Food Network, not really to do any recipes, but to learn technique...and I just enjoy it. Giada, however, was never someone I enjoyed watching anyway...LOL.


  5. Foodfeud,

    Sure I can talk more about soy protein isolates and why they are best to avoid. I will write more about it today. Thanks for the suggestion. ;-)


  6. Loving the spicy dishes!! I think the chipotle with butternut squash would be a perfect balance. Yum.

  7. LJ,

    I used to love watching the Food Network. As I would watch I would get ideas of ingredients to combine or dishes to veganize. However now I watch and I end up talking to the televsion set. I am always shocked by how unhealthy the food they prepare actually is. This was the first time I actually ran the nutritional stats and it was a disaster. The funny thing is the cheese was the least of this problems this dish had, and of course we could easily replace it with walnut parm. But the base recipe itself was white flour (the fregola), fat (from too much olive oil) and multiple days of sodium. *rolls eyes* Can you tell it wound me up? LOL, I was in total curmudgen mode. ;-)

    talk to you later, hugs,

  8. Heather,

    I must have been in a spicy mood on Monday. That didn't even occur to me until your comment. I guess that is what happens when I have to make mild food over the weekend for lunch with the folks. LOL

    I hope you are having a good Tuesday,

  9. Love your happy thoughts section, glad for so many happy things for you!

    I like the sound of the sauce on your tofu. I have been meaning to try a different dijon based marinade you posted a while back for some time now. Which is your favorite?

  10. Good Morning Sarah,

    I am glad you like the happy thoughts, I do too. I think it is far too easy to focus on the bad stuff and there is plenty of good too. ;-)

    I don't know that I have a favorite marinade it depends what flavor mood I am in. The one I made that is sweet and hot was also very good (I think it was apricot preserves and sriracha). Which marinade were you thinking of making?

    I hope you have a good Tuesday,

  11. Ah yes, this is the one! http://veganepicurean.blogspot.com/2010/09/happy-anniversary-and-dijon-and-nut.html
    I suppose thats for a more decadent day, like anniversaries. :)

  12. Sarah,

    The nut crusted tofu was good. It would be nice for Thanksgiving. Dan enjoyed it a lot. You could use maple syrup in the glaze if you wanted to make it more festive. Did that help at all or just make it more confusing? :-/

    talk to you later,

  13. There are endless shows on the Food Network for omnis but how about some vegetarian options? My employer offers a caterer at lunch and they provide one vegetarian dish per week, if that. I talked to the caterer about it and she seemed pleased with herself that she offered it. If you were dependent on the caterer for lunch and were a vegetarian, what would you do for the other 4 days during the week? The food that is actually served (via the caterer or Food Network), whether it be omni or veggie, is an entirely different story in itself!

  14. Jill,

    When we first went vegan I had no idea what to eat and felt like I need a veggie burger or something like that in the center of the plate. It amazes me how much my cooking and our tastes have change. I wish that more people understood the impact lifestyle (food, exercise, stress) has on health.

    Sorry you only get one veg option per week from the caterer. I wish I knew why professional cooks find it so difficult to make veg food taste good.


  15. Definitely helped! I was thinking maple would be nice with the dijon. Oh how I wish I didn't love maple so much :) I already have my Thanksgiving dishes all planned out, but I will try the nut crusted tofu sometime soon.

    I am cooking a vegan Thanksgiving dinner for a group of unapologetic meat eater friends on Saturday. Not going for the healthy vegan approach by any means, but I do plan to knock their socks off with some of the vegan versions of the classic Thanksgiving casseroles. This is my first Thanksgiving as a vegan and I'm waaay excited about this party. As far as the family gatherings I will be in TN with my mom's side of the family. My aunt that is cooking dinner texted me last night with this exact phrase: "I am going to be cooking Thanksgiving dinner, give me a call so we can talk about your 'diet'" LOL! Can't wait for this convo tonight. Needless to say I'll be packing a cooler for the trip :)

  16. Sarah,

    Enjoy your first vegan Thanksgiving. This is the first time I am cooking all vegan but not the first time eating all vegan if that makes any sense. I normally cater to the omnis but not this year. I think they can handle it. LOL, let the whining commence. ;-)

    About the tofu I was also thinking maybe a little sprinkling of maple sugar on top would also be good if you have it. I love maple too, but I try to keep my consumption to a minimum. Dan had a little maple syrup on his vegan chai pancakes at brunch. I can't let that man out of my sight for a second. LOL

    Good plan about packing a well stocked cooler. Most omnis don't make a vegan friendly Thanksgiving. They seemt to put butter or cream in everything. Good luck with the conversation and the meal.


  17. I always watch the food network on Saturday mornings. For some reason I like seeing if something is being made that I can veganize. I do however get grossed out by the meat. Sometimes I actually end up changing the channels, especially when certain people come on.

    Everything sure looks good. I had tofu last night myself. I'll be posting about it later on this evening.

    Have a great afternoon!

  18. Michelle,

    I used to love the Food Network before I got serious about health. The sad thing is that Giada's recipes are normally better than most. I may have to check the nutrition on a Paula or Ina recipe just to see how horrific they are nutritionally. Sick curiosity now I suppose.

    I have been on a tofu kick lately. It has become my favorite vegan alternative for meat since you can flavor it so many ways. Can't wait to see what you did with tofu. I am always looking for ideas.

    I hope your afternoon is good too,

  19. Hi Ali. I haven't commented for a while, but knew I had to when you talked about Forks over Knives. My daughter was a film major, and long story short, she is setting up the screenings for the film! She is working in CA in the industry, living her dream. She was also an instant convert to veganism, based on the film. Never mind that her mother has been preaching the health benefits for several years, lol. No matter, she is on board, and we will have a great time cooking and eating together when she's home for Christmas! I'm sure you'll love the film: it's getting rave reviews from packed theatres!

  20. Colleen,

    An instant convert to veganism based on the film is quite the recommendation. I am even more excited to see it now if that is possible. Two of our omni friends may be going with us. Hopefully we get a little conversion of our own. *fingers crossed*

    Sometimes people need to hear things from people that aren't family for it to sink in. The same thing has happened hear so I understand. ;-)

    I hope all is going well with you,


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